6th > May > 2005 Archive

server room

Intel feels healthy and dual-core happy

A confident collection of Intel executives boasted today about the company's financial health and upcoming dual and multicore processors during an analyst conference. Exiting CEO Craig Barrett, incoming CEO Paul Otellini, CFO Andy Bryant and a host of other division heads did their best to woo the Wall Street crowd. Intel this year has worked to restore its reputation after a somewhat difficult 2004 that saw numerous product delays, product cancellations and manufacturing mistakes. The Intel brass made a rare admission to feeling AMD's heat more than ever before and then quickly dismissed the notion that the company will be unseated as chip king anytime soon. "The business is actually healthy right now," Bryant told the analysts. Minutes later, he emphasized this point adding, "Intel's business is solid right now." This business checkup capped off three hours of presentations from the various Intel executives. New information was rather hard to come by during those 180 minutes, although Otellini did highlight three relatively unknown chips. The first is a chip code-named Woodcrest, which will be Intel's second-generation dual-core Xeon aimed at the dual-processor server market. It will arrive at around the same time as the multicore Whitefield chip for multiprocessor boxes. Otellini also highlighted the upcoming dual-core Conroe chip for desktops and the dual-core Merom chip for notebooks. Both of these parts will be the second generation follow-ons to Presler and Yonah, respectively. Intel is currently behind AMD in the dual-core server processor race since the dual-core Opteron appeared last month. Intel won't be shipping the dual-core Dempsey chip in volume to end users until 2006. Otellini, however, vowed to have "thousands" of Dempsey-based systems sent to OEMs and ISVs in the later part of this year for testing. Abhi Talwalkar, a high-ranking executive at Intel, admitted some frustration at seeing AMD win server business during 2004. "Certainly, there has been increased competition in (that) part of the marketplace," he said. Intel also did its usual sales pitch for Itanium, insisting that things are better than ever with the 64-bit chip. "All of the big RISC vendors are offering large scale systems," Otellini said, ignoring the two largest RISC vendors - Sun and IBM - that are not shipping large scale Itanium systems. While life isn't perfect at Intel, it is pretty damn good. Bryant's presentation was full of charts showing Intel's exceptional ability to outpace rivals and other large companies in cash production, revenue consistency and returns to investors. ® Bootnote Congratulations to Intel for figuring out how to make a web cast available when a user has a popup blocking browser. It only took two years. Related stories Supermicro abandons Intel-only stance, embraces Opteron AMD dual-core 1xx Opterons 'to go Socket 939' Intel partner sues... Intel (and AMD too) AMD cheers govt calls to end 'single-vendor' IT tenders
Ashlee Vance, 06 May 2005

Bashful IBM takes orders for Opteron blade server

IBM's long-awaited Opteron-based blade server has quietly gone up for sale on the company's web site. Back when the dual-core Opteron chip shipped in April, IBM promised to deliver an Opteron blade sometime this quarter. It, however, has yet to formally announce the system to the public. But the secret is out after The Register found the LS20 in IBM's online store. The system starts at $2,259 with a standard 2.0GHz Opteron chip and 1GB of memory. A blade with the low power 2.6GHz Opteron and 2GB of memory starts at $3,449. In total, IBM has four models of the LS20 available. IBM's web site says the boxes will ship "within 2 weeks," although it is notorious about taking a long time to get to volume shipments. So be patient. Up to 84 of the LS20s can fit in a standard rack. IBM's BladeCenter chassis "supports lower power versions of all these full performance Opteron processors. These 68W processors draw nearly 1/3 less power than the standard 95W AMD offering." Customers can plug in up to 8GB of memory on each blade and use either 36GB or 73GB Ultra320 SCSI drives. IBM will support Red Hat, SuSE and Windows Server 2003 operating systems on the box. The LS20 is quite the controversial system. IBM is rumored to have held up production on an Opteron blade due to its tight relationship with Intel. Now, with the LS20 and a new workstation, IBM will have three Opteron systems and serious Xeon competition. HP sells the widest variety of Opteron kit ranging from workstations to blade, two-processor and four-processor servers. Sun Microsystems also has a number of Opteron boxes but has yet to release a blade. Dell is pretending Opteron doesn't exist. ® Related stories Intel feels healthy and dual-core happy Supermicro abandons Intel-only stance, embraces Opteron DataCore gets cheap and dirty with iSCSI SANs The dual-core x86 server era begins thanks to AMD
Ashlee Vance, 06 May 2005

Hollywood calls BitTorrent Brits to US Court

ExclusiveExclusive The US movie industry has made good its promise to name Brits Kevin Reid and Ian Hawthorne in its legal action against the users of their bds-palace.co.uk website, which links to BitTorrent-hosted content. Last month, Reid formally received a summons to appear before the US District Court of New Jersey, where MPAA members Paramount, Warner, Universal and 20th Century Fox are attempting to identify and therefore sue individuals they alleged shared their film and TV content without authorisation. The site's owners claim they were told they might have to pay $150m in damages if they fail to settle. Settlement would cost them a mere $7m, they say. The summons follows demands made in March this year by the studios' lawyer, Matthew J Oppenheim a partner with Washington DC law firm Jenner & Block, that Reid and Hawthorne hand over the identities of the alleged copyright infringers. If they failed to do so, Oppenheim threatened, they would too would be named in the studios' lawsuit. That has now happened, though it's arguably of little help to Hollywood. US law does not reach as far as the UK, and even if the US Court views Reid and Hawthorne's refusal to answer the summons in a harsh light, there's little it can do about it. Should the two Brits visit New Jersey, they might possibly run into trouble, but they may well be free to visit other states of the Union safe from harassment from Motion Picture Ass. of America-member lawyers. Reid claims Oppenheim "made it quite clear that he felt that if our Prime Minister could be persuaded to back his country in the Gulf War, then there was no doubting that American law would prevail in the UK". Fortunately, our courts tend to be a little less in awe of our transatlantic cousins than our glorious leader does. Reid and Hawthorne have always maintained that what they are doing is legal under UK law. BitTorrent has legitimate uses, and bds-palace.co.uk links to legal content host by that network. Where they have been notified of links pointing to illegal content, they have removed those links, they claim. What muddies the waters a little is bds-palace.co.uk's use of a US server, which is how the site came to the attention of the MPAA in the first place. Still, Hollywood's lawyers must come to the UK, either to persuade an English High Court judge that any ruling on the evidence made in the US should apply here too, or to challenge Reid and Hawthorne under UK copyright law, which in some respects is less liberal than its US equivalent. David Harris, a lawyer specialising in intellectual property and information technology issues at UKITLaw.com, is representing bds-palace.co.uk's owners. He recently told The Register he welcomes such a move - there are issues here, such as the difference between hosting a link to a BitTorrent file, and hosting the file itself - that need to be thrashed out in the UK court, he said. Harris is also representing Alexander Hanff, whose has also been threatened by MPAA members over BitTorrent links to allegedly illegal copies of their content on his site, DVDR-core. ® Related stories Hollywood brow-beats second BitTorrent Brit Hollywood threatens to sue UK BitTorrent man for millions
Tony Smith, 06 May 2005

O2 goes down the pan

Our thanks goes to the vulture-eyed Register reader who sent us this snapshot after a late night shopping trip to his local supermarket. Mulling the vast and colourful array of toilet cleaners on offer, he spotted this germ killer - and could have sworn he'd spotted the logo somewhere before. A spokesman for mobile phone giant O2 - which is never too keen to seen its brand diluted in any way - told us that they did come across this sort of thing "from time to time" and that alleged cases of trademark infringement are examined on a "case by case basis". Of course, O2 and Tesco are best buddies thanks to their joint venture, Tesco Mobile. Even so, asked whether O2 had been in touch with Tesco over the logo, an O2 spokesman said "no" but said they would be "loo-king into it". ® Related stories O2 and EasyAir avoid High Court spat O2 gets protective over 'bubbles' O2 sues 3UK over ad bubbles
Tim Richardson, 06 May 2005

ATI multi-card rendering details emerge

ATI's SLi-style multi-card image rendering system will be able to use any of the company's 3D graphics cards, if claims made by hardware website Hexus.net are anything to go by. ATI's system - apparently dubbed Multi Video Processing (MVP) - will, like Nvidia's rival SLi technique, speed image rendering by getting two GPUs to co-operatively render each 3D scene. Citing a number of sources, the site claims ATI's approach uses a master/slave system. The slave card can be any ATI board - only the master card needs to specifically support MVP. Nvidia's alternative requires two SLi-compatible boards to be used. MVP was previously believed to operate across the PCI Express bus, avoiding the need for the proprietary card-to-card connector used by Nvidia's SLi boards. However, the sources claim ATI's system actually connects the two boards via a backplane connection - presumably feeding the slave card's video output into the master card's video-in part. ATI's solution will also require a suitable mobo. One particularly interesting aspect of Hexus' revelation is ATI's use of a tile-based rendering scheme. Instead of doing the whole scene as one, the image is partitioned into squares, the better to minimise the bandwidth needed to bat a rendered tile from one card to the other. It's an interesting trick that goes back to the early 1990s when Imagination Technologies was developing its PowerVR line of graphics chips. PowerVR technology was used in Sega's ill-fated Dreamcast, which used a tile-based rendering scheme, as did other PowerVR-based products such as the Kyro range of graphics cards. Tile-based rendering was also championed by start-up Gigapixel, which was later acquired by 3dfx, which was later acquired by Nvidia... ® Related stories Nvidia agrees to buy ailing 3dfx for $112m 3dfx pulls plug on graphics card production 3dfx to grab Gigapixel for $186m GigaPixel takes on 3dfx, S3, Nvidia with tiles
Tony Smith, 06 May 2005

Marconi culls 800 jobs

Marconi is to rid itself of 800 workers in the UK following its failure to win a slice of a major £10bn contract from BT. The job losses were widely expected after BT rejected Marconi's bid to become a preferred supplier for its new, gee-whiz 21st Century Network (21CN). Although BT said Marconi's telecoms gear was up to scratch, the UK's dominant fixed-line telco said the price just wasn't competitive. However, the job losses are fewer than the 2000 cuts unions had feared the company would make if it lost the BT deal. As a result of today's announcement 450 jobs are being lost in Coventry, with a further 300 in Liverpool. The restructure will give Marconi room to "dismantle much of the current UK-based central operations organisation leading to significant cost savings", it claimed. The company is also looking at introducing other "overhead cost reduction initiatives" across the whole business in a bid to save money. Full details of the makeover and how much it will cost will be published on 17 May when Marconi publishes its preliminary figures for the fiscal year to the end of March. In a statement, Marconi chief executive Mike Parton said: "We are committed to maintaining and improving the products and services we provide to our customers. "The new leaner organisation that we have announced today allows us to maintain our product roadmaps, focusing our R&D expenditure on our key product lines whilst making significant cost savings mainly in overhead areas to underpin profitability." Earlier this week, union bosses said they were "disappointed" following a meeting with Marconi execs to discuss potential layoffs. ® Related stories Unions hold powwow with Marconi over job fears Marconi mulls bleak future following BT bombshell Job fears haunt Marconi Marconi savaged after failure to win BT 21CN deal
Tim Richardson, 06 May 2005

Intel: 65nm output to surpass 90nm production Q3 06

Intel's first 65nm microprocessors are due to ship at the end of this year, with volume shipments taking place in Q1 2006. However, the company revealed yesterday it expects 65nm output numbers to surpass those of 90nm parts as quickly as Q3 2006. The first Intel chip fabbed at 65nm is expected to be 'Yonah', the dual-core next-generation Pentium M part that will ship with 'Napa', the chip giant's third-generation Centrino platform. Yonah features a number of tweaks over today's 'Dothan' PMs, including the use of a 667MHz frontside bus and support for SSE 3. Yonah will be quickly followed by 'Presler' and 'Cedarmill', the dual- and single-core 65nm Pentium D parts that will succeed the 90nm 'Smithfield' due to ship next quarter. Yonah will be available as a single-core part too, it is believed. 'Dempsey', the 65nm dual-core Xeon part, is due in Q1 2006, too. Intel will clearly be pushing all these chips aggressively, and while 65nm process yields might not yet be on a par with 90nm yields - as you'd expect - the chip maker suggested yields will be at a "world class" level by the time volume production kicks in, ie. Q1 2006. Intel's D1D and D1C fabs in Oregon, 12C in Arizona and 24E in Ireland will be used to punch out 65nm parts, Robert J. Baker, Intel's senior vice president and general manager of the Technology and Manufacturing Group, said yesterday. Intel also revealed that by the end of the year, 36 per cent of the chips it ships will go into mobile devices, up from 31 per cent now. ® Related stories Intel feels healthy and dual-core happy Intel launches dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition Intel confirms 'Conroe' Intel's Cedar Mill chip 'to draw 65W' Intel 'Yonah' to boost Centrino media speed Intel to ship dual-core Xeon MP in Q1 06 Intel 65nm desktop, server CPUs 'up and running' Intel dual-core Yonah to ship single core too
Tony Smith, 06 May 2005

Europe annexes Caribbean islands

You often hear it said that the Internet is redrawing the map of the world, but little did any of us know that was a literal truth.
Kieren McCarthy, 06 May 2005

CWU accepts BT pay offer

The Communications Workers' Union (CWU) is closer to settling this year's pay dispute with BT. Union bosses are recommending workers accept BT's 3.5 per cent pay increase to be backdated to 1 April. Throughout the pay talks - described by the CWU as "long and tough negotiations" - BT had offered a below-inflation deal which would, in effect, have led to a pay-cut for workers. The CWU, which represents around 54,000 of BT's 100,000-odd workers, described BT's early offers as "derisory" and warned that the mood among members was "pretty hostile". But announcing the settlement today, the CWU said: "The offer is now clearly above the current rate of inflation and ranks with the best pay deals being achieved this year in other companies." Workers will be balloted on the pay offer later this month. Originally, BT staff had demanded an eight per cent increase in wages to repay them for their "loyalty, hard work and co-operation". ® Related stories BT workers demand 8% pay rise BT workers' union rejects 'derisory' pay offer BT near to settling London allowance dispute Union calls BT strike ballot over derisory offer Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner (that BT wages get me down)
Tim Richardson, 06 May 2005

Aussie boffins patent single-photon generator

A group of Australian scientists has developed a new technique for producing single photons at room temperature, paving the way for real-world quantum cryptography. The research team already holds a worldwide patent on their invention, and has secured a AUD3.3m ($2.6m) grant from the Victorian government to develop their technology. Scientists have known for some time that a laser beam can stimulate a diamond to emit single photons. Working from this starting point, Dr James Rabeau, a research fellow in the University of Melbourne's School of Physics, built a device that would send those single photons down an optical fibre. Rabeau and co. used chemical vapour deposition to grow diamond crystals on the end of a section of optical fibre. The idea is that the laser will strike the diamond, stimulating the emission of a photon which will travel down the optical fibre as part of a message. Quantum cryptography relies on the particle-like behaviour of light to secure transmission of data. Using the technology, two users can exchange secret keys, safe in the knowledge that no one could possible have eavesdropped on their 'conversation'. Each bit of the key is encoded on a single photon. Intercepting that photon changes its polarisation, yielding no useful information to the eavesdropper and alerting the parties exchanging keys to the interception. Rabeau's breakthrough is to have developed a cheap and reliable way of generating single photons, something he and his team says has not been possible up until now. However, as we reported last month, Toshiba has developed a single-photon-emitting LED, and numerous other products are available. ® Related stories Quantum crypto moves out of the lab Quantum crypto comes to Blighty Holy Grail of crypto to arrive in three years, say UK boffins
Lucy Sherriff, 06 May 2005

Americans are pants at password security

Americans are just as blasé about password security as the Brits, according to a new survey. Two out three three people (180 of 272) approached in a downtown San Francisco street by researchers were happy to provide their password in exchange for a coffee gift card. Of those respondents that declined offering their actual password, 51 provided a clue about their password in exchange for a $3 Starbucks gift voucher. Only 41 of those quizzed (or 15 per cent) on San Francisco[s Market Street refused to hand over the goodies. Whether these people were adverse to either Starbucks or coffee remains a mystery. It's also possible that people told researchers fibs just to get a freebie, of course, but the suspicion remains that many people are prepared to hand over their password on a whim. Several respondents were so enticed by the allure of a $3 coffee card that they gave away their password and then mentioned to surveyors that they would change their password as soon as returning to their computer. Similar UK surveys have found that around 70 per cent of UK workers were happy to hand over their password in exchange for a Marks & Spencer's Easter Egg. VeriSign - which sponsored the US survey - admitted it was light-hearted and unscientific. Nonetheless it reckons its poll illustrates real challenges about password management. Of all respondents, 57 per cent reported having four or more passwords, and 79 per cent reported using the same password for multiple websites or applications, a practice that means one stolen password could jeopardise multiple accounts. The survey also found that some people continue to store passwords on Post-it notes. Other popular locations for passwords include the contacts folder of email applications, on PDAs and in the notes function of a mobile phone. VeriSign spins its survey findings to illustrate that more secure forms of user authentication are needed to protect against digital ID theft, such as two-factor authentication products from the likes of VeriSign. Well it had to get a plug in there somehow. The survey was published yesterday in the run up to the Digital ID World conference in San Francisco next week (9-12 May). ® Related stories Brits are crap at password security Surveys are tosh, and so's your reporting Office workers give away passwords for a cheap pen Banks 'wasting millions' on two-factor authentication
John Leyden, 06 May 2005
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Amazon.com leaks PalmOne LifeDrive info

All the speculation surrounding PalmOne's much-rumoured LifeDrive aka Tungsten X aka LifeDrive (again) has achieved a level of legitimacy: the product as appeared on Amazon.com. It will be called the PalmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager, and while the details are sparse - nothing beyond the basic specs really - there are a host of piccies of the PowerBook-styled aluminium-looking PDA. It is due to ship on 18 May - a week on Wednesday - for $500. As anticipated, the LDMM clearly builds on PalmOne's Tungsten T5, with its ability to operate as a USB Flash drive, allowing users to drag and drop files across rather than go through that tedious mucking about with HotSync conduits. The unit itself is powered by a 416MHz Intel XScale CPU, and sports a 320 x 480 LCD that can be viewed in landscape as well as portrait mode, Amazon.com says. There's no reference to storage capacity, and whether LDMM contains a hard drive, 4GB or otherwise. The piccies reveal it does indeed integrate Wi-Fi wireless networking. It clearly runs the Palm OS. Well, not quite. According to the page, it was posted not by PalmOne or Amazon.com, but by an affiliate seller. So the possibility remains that it's all nonsense. Certainly the units alleged dimensions: 16.3 x 16.3 x 10cm are wrong, simply on the basis of the half-a-dozen pictures included. They suggest the device is not part of the Tungsten line-up after all, which implies PalmOne is creating a fourth brand alongside its Tungsten, Zire and Treo families. In turn, that would seem to indicate the company doesn't see LDMM as the next stage in the PDA's evolution: not a portable PIM, but a true personal data carrier. Think portable Home folder, but unlike simply copying it to an external hard drive or Flash unit, imagine having the ability to view and interact with data as well as take it from computer to computer. The PDA has been struggling to find a role for itself between, on one side, music players like the iPod and video devices like Creative and iRiver's' PMC offerings, and, on the other, smart phones like... er... PalmOne's own Treo range. LDMM seems a genuine attempt to lift the PDA above its PIM focus, and put the emphasis more on mass data storage than carrying select snippets of information with you. Still, at the price, PalmOne is going to have a hard time convincing consumers they need a LifeDrive more than an 60GB iPod Photo. ® Related stories GPS drives Euro PDA shipments PalmOne launches Treo 650 in UK Smart phones boom - Symbian up, MS and Palm down PalmOne brings Bluetooth to Tungsten E2 PalmOne 'Life Drive' photos surface PalmOne posts mixed Q3
Tony Smith, 06 May 2005

Can IBM's Euro problems continue?

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/technology/2005/05/05/cx_ld_0505ibm1.html?partner=theregister.
Lisa DiCarlo, 06 May 2005

Pope's auto auctioned for $250,000

The Pope's old motor has been snapped up for $250,000 after being auctioned off on eBay. The 1999 Volkswagen Golf was once owned by Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, before he was elected head of the Catholic Church last month and renamed Pope Benedict XVI. The car was bought by Benjamin Halbe, 21, earlier this year, although at the time he was unaware of the identity of the previous owner. Once that became clear, he rushed to sell it on eBay. Not surprisingly, it's been bought by those media-hungry bods at GoldenPalace.com who aim to use the car to house their growing collection of holy items, including the mystifying image of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, a chicken breast resembling the late Pope John Paul II, the charred image of Jesus Christ on the bottom of a frying pan and a pretzel shaped like the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. "We have amassed a collection of what many consider to be holy artefacts," said GoldenPalace.com CEO Richard Rowe. "It seems only natural to get a blessed vehicle to carry these items. "We are planning to showcase our acquisitions by bringing them on tour and allowing people to enjoy the experience of sitting in the divine car, in an effort to raise as much money for charity as possible," he said. ® Related stories eCasino snaps up Virgin Mary cheese sarnie Woman rebrands as GoldenPalace.com 'Human billboard' craze gets another taker Casino brands eBay cleavage woman
Tim Richardson, 06 May 2005

One mobile phone for every European by 2007

Mobile penetration in Western Europe is expected to exceed 100 per cent by 2007, according to a new forecast issued by the research firm Analysys. The company predicts that penetration of mobile phones will grow from 90 per cent in 2004 to 98 per cent by 2006, before reaching the 100 per cent mark the following year. The launch of 3G around Europe will be the catalyst for growth, with consumers buying new mobile phones and SIM cards to avail themselves of new services, according to the report. Analysys says that penetration has already exceeded 100 per cent in several countries, including Italy, Sweden and the UK. However, it has stagnated in some of the markets in which operators have placed significant emphasis on converting customers from pre-pay to contract in a bid to stabilise Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). "In countries such as France and Germany operators have an opportunity to increase penetration by marketing pre-paid offerings, which is often the best way to attract certain segments of the population, but they should not lose sight of profitability," said Alex Zadvorny, analyst with Analysys and co-author of the report. "Italy, where ARPU has been in line with the Western European market average and registered the slowest decline among the major European countries between 2000 and 2004, is a good example of how the prevalence of pre-paid does not necessarily suppress ARPU," he added. Analysys predicts that voice ARPU in Western Europe is expected to stabilise, and that if operators take the right steps to take advantage of the data service opportunity, mobile service revenue is forecast to grow strongly at an annualised rate of nine per cent between 2004 and 2007. "With the advent of 3G, operators have an opportunity to stabilise and potentially even grow voice ARPU by using the efficiency of the technology and offering large bundles of minutes," said Zadvorny. "At the same time, in order to take advantage of the mobile data services opportunity, operators need to address factors such as transparency of pricing, standardisation and ease of use of devices, and the implementation of the relevant billing systems." Copyright © 2005, ENN Related stories Users untouched by mobile viruses despite hype GSM Association rejects revised phone DRM rates Mobile email hits the road
Charlie Taylor, 06 May 2005

McAfee charts course for turnaround

Anti-virus firm McAfee has reported a drop in first-quarter earnings despite increased turnover. For the quarter ending 31 March 2005, McAfee reported net income of $35.9m on revenues of $236m, compared to profits of $58m on a turnover of $219m in same period last year. The lowered results reflect a change in McAfee's business - following the sale of its Magic help-disk and Sniffer vulnerability scanning businesses in 2004 - rather than more fundamental difficulties. McAfee said its core consumer security and intrusion prevention businesses are performing well. McAfee consumer revenue in the quarter grew by 114 per cent year over year to $100m. McAfee IntruShield (intrusion prevention) revenues grew have doubled since last year, it added. The firm reckons its tighter focus on the small business sector and recent launch of anti-spyware software will pave the way for future growth. McAfee expects revenue for Q2 2005 to be between $220m and $230m. The security firm is bullish about FY2005 earnings, raising its revenue predictions to between $955m and $975m, compared to previous estimates of around $947m. McAfee's shares fell to $22.35 on Thursday after the results came out, a drop of 43 cents or around two per cent, but rallied in after-hours trading to reach $23.36. ® Related stories McAfee looks ahead after mediocre Q4 McAfee sees accounting weakness Hotmail ditches McAfee for Trend Anti-virus vulnerabilities strike again
John Leyden, 06 May 2005

PC-dumping ex-prosecutor mired in teen porn scandal

A former Dutch prosecutor, who resigned last year after it emerged he had chucked his old PC out with the trash is in trouble again. The PC, which contained hundreds of pages of confidential information about high-profile cases, as well as former Dutch prosecutor Joost Tonino's social security number and personal tax files, also revealed that he had an appetite for pornography. Tonino subscribed to dozens of teen porn newsgroups and websites, and in letters to a friend also found on his former hard drive, he admitted bluntly that he "had trouble staying away from little boys". A six-month investigation by the public prosecutor's office, however, concluded that Tonino had done nothing "unlawful" as none of the pornographic images viewed on the PC were downloaded directly to the machine's hard drive. The pictures were found in the Internet Explorer cache by forensic experts, and could have been the "by-product" of visiting porn sites in general, the office concluded. The details were revealed yesterday by Dutch TV station SBS, the same broadcaster that uncovered the contents of Tonino's dumped PC a couple of months ago. Because Tonino didn't want his private life made public, he sued the station, but the judge ruled that there was enough evidence to question his behaviour. It is expected that Tonino, who had already accepted another job with the public prosecutor's office, will resign shortly. Tonino maintains that his sexual orientation has never interfered with his professional life. ® Related stories Dutch Customs exposes UK chip carousel fraud Porn-surfing Norwegians awarded $40k Dutch plans for iPod tax could kill MP3 industry Porn swallows 20% of NZ police IT capacity UK police tackle mounting internet porn caseload Playboy in PSP porn punt Italian smut virus scammer jailed for 14 months Dutch plan audacious flying tricycle
Jan Libbenga, 06 May 2005

Apple vs Apple trial date set

Apple Computer will face Apple Corporation, the Beatles' recording company, in court in just under a year's time. According to the Mac maker's latest 10-Q filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the two Apples will battle it out over which of them has the right to use the word 'apple' in relation to the music business: Apple Corp. because it's been doing so since the 1960s, or Apple Comp. because it's been doing so via iTunes since 2002. And the date of the UK court hearing: 27 March 2006. Apple and Apple have been here before, with Corp. suing Comp. a number of times over the last 20 years as it has perceived the Mac maker trading on its trademark toes. Those cases ended with Comp. settling out of court, paying Corp. huge sums, and agreeing not to enter the music market again. But with the iTunes Music Store, Apple Comp. has gone too far, Corp. alleges, and is suing for damages. Last month, Apple Comp. said iTunes had sold more than 350m song downloads, and we expect that by the time the case comes to court - if it comes to court; there's still room for yet another settlement - iTunes will have sold at least 1.7bn songs. ® Related stories Apple iPod grabs half of US Flash player market Creative income falls on iPod-minced margins US mobile carriers shun iTunes Apple iTunes sales tally passes 350 million Apple financials rude with health Apple Japan 'will' open Music Store - chief
Tony Smith, 06 May 2005

Sci-fi solar sail tested in Cleveland

Space missions to the sun and inner solar system could be powered by solar sail within a decade, Californian researchers claim. Solar sails - thin sheets of material that use photons from the sun to propel craft through space - have been the stuff of science fiction for decades. Now scientists at ATK Space Systems are putting their sail cloth to the test in the world's largest vacuum chamber at NASA's Glenn Research Centre, Wired News reports. The space simulation chamber is 122ft high and 100ft in diameter. It has been used to test radiators for the International Space Station, rocket components, and the inflatable landing bags used by NASA to protect the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on their way to the surface of Mars. The plastic-like, reflective cloth, which is 100 times thinner than a sheet of paper, is a spin-off from technology used to develop paint for spacecraft. The researchers need to test the material in a vacuum to see how it might perform in space, so they stretch triangular sheets of the cloth over four booms that form a square, and pump all the air out. Then they see how the sails deploy and move around in different temperatures. Eventually, the researchers say, it could be used to fly science packages direct to the Sun or other planets, without having to swing around other bodies several times to get an acceleration boost from the gravity-slingshot effect. Although the acceleration from the solar sail would be low, it would be maintained constantly, so a craft could eventually get up a reasonable velocity. Initial flights in space are likely to use sails 130 feet across on each side of a craft. The speed and direction would be controlled by shaping the sails or changing their angle to the sun, much as with a yacht or a dingy, though if you fall out, it's a lot further to swim to the shore, of course. ® Related stories Shuttle grounded until July Oracle developers - fancy a trip into space? Space-walkers launch 'Nanosatellite'
Lucy Sherriff, 06 May 2005

Mashboxx opens beta test scheme

ExclusiveExclusive Snocap, Napster creator Shawn Fanning's attempt to build a legal P2P music-sharing network, has signed major recording company EMI. Separately, Mashboxx, the first P2P software to leverage Snocap's tracking technology, launched a public beta-test programme today, calling on interested parties to sign up to express their interest in participating. The British giant joins Universal and Sony-BMG as major-label users of the system, which allows them to track anyone sharing their content and force downloaders to cough up for the privilege. More recently, a stack of prominent US independent labels, including Gammon Records and Absolutely Kosher Records, along with Artemis Records, Streetbeat Records/Pandisc/Kriztal Entertainment, Nacional Records, Nettwerk Records, OM Records/Deep Concentration, Reality Entertainment and TVT Records. Snocap announced its service in December 2004, though the service has yet to go live through P2P providers. Once such is Mashboxx, the company set up by former Grokster CEO Wayne Rosso, which uses Fanning's technology to reveal which shared songs are being monitored on behalf of Snocap's label customers. Download a track that is, and Mashboxx's software swaps in a DRM-protected version that invites you to pay to listen, to burn or whatever usage the copyright holder permits. In all other respects, it's a standard P2P app, able to access all of the major P2P networks and, crucially, trade content not monitored by Snocap just as any other P2P client does. It's an interesting approach, in that it targets the downloader rather than the sharer. The goal is not to stamp out sharing - which is, for now, the Recording Industry Ass. of America's policy - but to tap the system as a way of reaching new paying customers. As always, there are ways around it, but it works on the principle the most downloaders want an easy life and will find it more convenient to cough up 99 cents to hear the track they've just downloaded in stereo and without an annoying voice butting in mid-track to suggest they pay for it. And it's got to be better than sifting through countless bizarrely-titled MP3s that might be what the downloader is after, but probably isn't. In any case, Snocap is smart enough to figure most modifications of the original song and highlight it as a 'protected' track. Snocap's approach is also different in that it puts the emphasis on labels to take responsibility themselves for the protection of their content, rather than create of closed-world sharing networks - "P2P for pussies", as one industry executive describes them - which are totally safe but appeal to relatively few folk. The stance of Universal, Sony-BMG and now EMI suggests that major labels are now willing to engage with the P2P world and to take advantage of the opportunity to turn illegal downloaders into legal ones it offers. With so much of their catalogues being traded already, labels are encouraged to get Snocap to track as much if it as possible, which should make it easier for them to release a lot more old and/or obscure content and still make it pay, because it's made accessible - yes, labels can 'share' their own content too - to far more potential downloaders than even Apple can offer right now. ® Related stories Hollywood calls BitTorrent Brits to US Court Revamped Real music service aims at Napster MP3 zapping malware worms onto P2P network New wave of lawsuits to hit 'illegal song-swappers' Intel 'backs' Bertelsmann P2P project RIAA discovers Internet2 Wippit to gain over 1m major-label tracks Musicians 'unconcerned' about file sharing Shawn Fanning's Snocap touts vision of P2P heaven Grokster, Sony BMG to do legit P2P service?
Tony Smith, 06 May 2005

UK DrinkorDie members jailed for software piracy

Three UK software counterfeiters who styled themselves as "latter-day Robin Hoods" received lengthy prison sentences today over their role in infamous software piracy organisation DrinkorDie. Another defendant escaped with a suspended sentence after a hearing at London's Old Bailey. Former city bank worker Alex Bell, 29, of Chafford Hundred, Essex, was jailed for two and a half years by Judge Paul Focke for conspiracy to defraud. Steven Dowd, 39, of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment on the same charge. Both were found guilty by a jury in March at the end of a six-month software piracy trial. The Old Bailey heard that the duo were part of DrinkorDie, which brought us Windows 95 days before it was released among other exploits. Dowd and Bell, however, were tried over conspiracy to supply business software packages for functions such as financial planning or Computer Aided Design. Bell and Dowd were sentenced on Friday, 6 May along with two other men, Andrew Eardley, 35, an IT manager at a Staffordshire school, and London IT worker, Mark Vent, 30, who both pleaded guilty to related software piracy offences last year. Vent was jailed for 18 months over the conspiracy to defraud rap while Eardley escaped with an 18 month sentence, suspended for two years. Jolly Roger Earlier Bruce Houlder QC, prosecuting, said that although the defendants did not get involved in the software piracy scene to make money it did not excuse their offence. "They may see themselves as latter-day Robin Hoods, stealing from the rich to give to the poor, but in reality it is a cover for fraud," he said, adding that the case was Britain's biggest software piracy case to date. "The activities of all four of you struck at the heart of the software trade," Judge Focke told the defendants. "The loss of software to owners through piracy is staggering. Also, the effect on related businesses and the lives of employees can be rendered catastrophic." He said the losses caused by the defendants to the software industry were hard to quantify but criticised them for been "indifferent" to the knock-on costs to others that came through their mission to gain technical kudos by making pirated software freely available. Expensive prosecution overblown, says defence expert Experts called by the defendants' defence team were critical of the decision to try suspects over conspiracy offences rather than offences which would have resulted in a far less complex and expensive prosecution. Peter Sommer, the lead defence expert, said: "Serious questions now need to be asked about the very costly decision to charge the UK DrinkorDie defendants with conspiracy as opposed to individual substantive charges under copyright or trademark law. Instead of single trials each lasting a couple of days, an Old Bailey Court has sat for six months." "Once a global conspiracy was alleged each defence team was bound to look at all the evidence against all the members which meant examining very large numbers of computers. US DrinkorDie members had done plea bargains, unacceptable in the UK, which said the more help they gave the shorter the sentences. That created the potential for tainted evidence," he added. Sommer is critical of prosecution claims that the activities of the defendants caused millions of dollars in lost revenue to software suppliers. "It was accepted at a very early stage that none of the UK defendants were motivated by money and, as with all similar cases, prosecution estimates are fanciful as no one knows how many copies of pirated software were made by others, or how many of those represented actual lost sales at full retail price," he said. The suspects were collared by officers from the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, part of the National Crime Squad, in a joint operation with the US Customs Service Cyber Smuggling Team that began four years ago. As a result of the international investigation eight men in the UK - six British nationals and two Ukrainians - were arrested in 2001. ® Related stories UK DrinkorDie members convicted of software piracy 11 charged over 'biggest-ever' MS piracy bust DrinkorDie suspect back in Oz jail Aussie court blocks DrinkorDie extradition Multi-billion-dollar software piracy bust
John Leyden, 06 May 2005

'Unscheduled downtime' floors postmaster.co.uk

Email outfit postmaster.co.uk appears to be up and running again after reportedly going AWOL since Tuesday. One irate punter who hasn't been able to access his email for the last couple of days told us: "Do you guys happen to know WTF is going on with postmaster.co.uk? Their servers have been dead for nearly 48 hours, the domain doesn't even ping. "I am so p#ssed off with them. I moved to Postmaster becuase my last webmail provider cut their service... and even paid Postmaster for gold membership after reading all the good-looking reviews in the hope (belief) that they were capable of providing a solid, long term solution." No one at the UK-based email company was available to comment at the time of writing, although we were told that they hoped the service would be back in the land of the living by teatime today. However, a statement that's popped up on its website early afternoon apologises for the "unscheduled downtime" and claims it was due to "our systems being overloaded with requests to access the system and it had to be taken out of operation yesterday". It goes on: "We had to impose a restriction of limited access to the system, but due to excessive requests many customers were not able to gain access. Our technical team has been working overnight and still working on it in order to ensure the system does not get overloaded again." ® Related stories BT glitch severs 70k broadband users Fans rage as U2 ticket sales site falls over Saying 'titsup' is fine, Reg readers cry Media Lab Europe shuts down BT's broadband service crashes and burns M&S site falls over
Tim Richardson, 06 May 2005

Phobile retro mobile phone headset

ReviewReview Following on from the huge success and notoriety of the Pokia handsets, online store Firebox.com has jumped on the bandwagon and released a cheaper version it calls the Phobile, writes Stuart Miles. Unlike its Pokia siblings which are custom made from original handsets and then sold for vast amounts of money on eBay, the Phobile is a mass-produced and therefore considerably cheaper handset. The premise is simple. Create an exact replica of a Western Electric 500-series model phone handset from the 1940, afix a curly cable, bung on a mobile phone connection and you've got the latest retro headset - well handset to be more precise. The handset is standard and you plug on different adaptors depending on your phone. Most Nokia, Siemens, Sony Ericsson and Motorola models are supported. The handset, just like the original, is basic and the main annoyance we have is that the makers haven't even added an answer or hang-up button. Not a problem if you're a candy bar phone user, but a pain if you've got to open up your clamshell just to answer the call. Perhaps it was cost, but it wouldn't have been hard to add a button on the accompanying cable rather than the handset. Build quality, however, along with the speaker and earpiece is superb, with the people we talked to saying they could hear us loud and clear. We had no reception problems either. Verdict Okay, as the press release we got in the post with the handset says, this is like attaching a typewriter to your computer. It's obvious that the Phobile is just giggles, but then this is gadgetry at its finest - pointless but funny. Combine this with the amount of comments we got when using it - not all good we have to be fair - certainly made us the talk of the office. If you've got £35 to spare and looking for a five minute wonder then this fits the bill nicely but doesn't break the bank. We love it. Review by Phobile   Rating 80%   Pros Retro design; sturdy build; good sound.   Cons No answer or hang-up buttons.   Price £35   More info The Phobile site Related reviews Recent reviews ATI 512MB Radeon X800 XL Seagate 400GB Pushbutton Backup HDD The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Gigabyte GA-8N-SLi Royal nForce 4 Intel mobo Nokia 7710 smart phone MV Cubik GamePro small form-factor PC Sony DSC-T7 digital camera
Pocket Lint, 06 May 2005

PSP disc protection cracked

It was never going to take very long, of course, but hackers have at last worked out how to bypass the copy protection scheme used by Sony to lock down content on the PlayStation Portable's Universal Media Disc (UMD). Piracy doesn't appear to be an issue yet, since there's no way of copying games pulled from an official 1.8GB UMD onto a fresh disc, UMD being, for now, a read-only medium. However, since the PSP has a MemoryStick slot, and suitably capacious MemorySticks are already available, the possibility exists that games or movies could be downloaded and transferred to the devices. Certainly, Sony's upcoming upgrade to its PSX PlayStation-cum-PVR machine will incorporate a facility for transferring recorded movies and TV programming to MemoryStick for playback on a PSP. It can't be long, surely, before someone figures out how to do this on a MemoryStick-equipped PC. Sony is keen that third-party providers offer music and movie content in UMD, though few major names beyond the Japanese giant's own content companies have agreed to do so. To date, Sony has touted UMD's DVD-like region coding, unique per-disc ID number and AES-based content encryption system as suitable protection for UMD-stored content. The PSP launched in the US on 24 March and is now scheduled to arrive in Europe on 1 September. ® Related stories Sony to ship PSP on 1 September - official Amazon puts back UK Sony PSP debut - again Sony updates PSX PVRs with PSP video support Sony PSP 'update' adds office apps, browser, email Sony details PlayStation Portable specs Related review Sony PlayStation Portable PSP-1000
Tony Smith, 06 May 2005

VAT on email troubles Reg readers

LettersLetters The notion that we might all owe VAT on the content of some of our emails really caught your attention this week. Plenty of you wrote in wondering similar things, so here follows a representative sample of the thoughts you've been having: You say "Emailing the data keeps it in a form where it's useful - spreadsheets, databases, and so on - and means Britain can be a Great Place for a bit of ecommerce, because it speeds up communication. Putting it on paper is slower, costlier (all those dead trees) and destroys the useful formatting work done in collecting it." Er, what about burning a CD-ROM and posting that? If the data is at all valuable, that's what the recipient will do when they pick up your email anyway. No regression to Victorian times required, and if enough dead trees are involved the postage might be cheaper too. But yes, the law is an arse, er, ass. (Do you think network printers are liable? VPNs? Hmm, perhaps best not to give the lawyers any ideas.) Ken So what happens if some one emails me a commercial program (no commercial value without registration code), and sends me the registration code (what I pay for) by post? Do I/can I save the VAT? John VAT through a law that could not reckon with a non-existing technology at the time. How deliciously dated :) Are there still any laws dating back to Henry VIII about? That could be a boatload of fun. So, what if I zip all the data in a smooth package, send the customer an email that says: "file soandso is waiting for you on our ftp server. Please check it out". Am I in the clear or will I be charged for the implied worth of the data on the ftp server? And if the customer is not happy with some details in my project and adds/removes some aspects which increase the price [3 bridges are more expensive than 2, but if it goes from 4 to 3 - for instance - it's still going to cost the customer because I already made provisions for 4], and I have to send the data again, will the customer be charge AGAIN for this data? Or what if say, someone wanted to circumnavigate the VAT and started off with a contract worth half a million and, supposing you could charge VAT only once, having paid the VAT on half a million, cheerfully continued expanding the project but the bottom line now reads half a billion. How will that be handled? How is VAT to be charged on a potentially lucrative contract, where it is impossible to predict exactly how much the contract will be worth, but it's going to be a whopper? What if J K Rowling [way to go, J!!!] receives an email from her publisher on the upcoming release of her new book and it includes some details about the contract, is she going to have to pay VAT? And how are you going to check up on that? Is the Crown going to have the tax collector peruse ALL the email that an office sends out per year? That's going to be mighty entertaining. This is Tony Blair's way of solving the unemployment problem in one fell swoop, I guess. Jeorge Next, an interesting take on the mobile phone virus hype machine: Frankly, mobile viruses can't be hyped enough for my liking, for one very simple reason - they're just as antisocial to savvy users as email viruses. Let me paint you a picture that has happened more than once to me lately - sitting in a bar having a pint with friends, and suddenly my phone goes bananas, as someone with a healthy dose of Cabir finds my phone and starts to batter it with incessant incoming file requests. It doesn't matter that my phone, running series 90 is theoretically immune to series 60-specific code (not that I'm going to risk it), nor even that I have the wit to reject a file named cabire.sis - the damn thing will still keep trying until I turn off my bluetooth or it finds someone else to annoy. So I am still denied service until that happens. And that's if the constant incoming file transfer requests don't overwhelm the slightly slow-witted 7710 in the first place. Still, I'd rather that than my girlfriend's SE K700i, which very kindly pops up a modal dialog when Cabir pings it - which it does, of course, every time you refuse its request. That makes getting into the preferences a game of timing and reflexes, and also ultimately futile because if you *DO* manage to tell it to turn bluetooth off, it politely tells you it can't do that because it has an active connection to the infected phone! And of course all the while the constant activation of the vibrating alert is running the batteries down... So bluetooth viruses are very effective at denying service, even on phones they can't infect. And it's a situation that will be exacerbated the more infected phones are in a given location. So any amount of hype that gets the average bovine button-happy toothing fan smartphone owner to actually stop and think before he accepts that payload is fine by me. Of course there should be an "ignore this device permanently" option from the OS manufacturers when a bluetooth alert gets received, but there again, perhaps the hype will persuade them to add it. Therefore, please run more stories about virus-infected cellphones raping grandmothers and smuggling illegal immigrants into the country. I mean, if we can get the Daily Mail to pick up the story, we'll be home and dry... James The University of East Anglia built a signing avatar - a computer generated person who uses British sign language. The idea is that the avatar would make websites more accessible to those whose first language is British Sign Language. Ooooo, but you lot did not like that: How nice to know that the universities are doing something useful Now all they have to do is invent some method this deaf, signing only, can't read/write english person can use to write the emails, fill in the web form boxes, and put the search entries into google in the first place. Did they actually check how many of these people exist and want to get on the net? Or are they still stuck at the "Keyboard not detected - Press f1 to continue" bios line? Steve Wake me up when a computer cam can read sign language. Just think of it as zero impact typing. HJC Alas, the sign language avatar only works on a Windows and IE6 combo. From http://www.sys-consulting.co.uk/downloads/esign/ "Currently there is no Avatar installation available for Mac computers, or for browsers other than Internet Explorer." As you'll no doubt be aware, Opera Software has recently launched version 8 of their browser and it now includes both voice recognition and speech output. That, coupled with Opera's well-known zoom feature make it one of the best browsers available for the visually-impaired. In addition, the Opera browser can readily be customised to cater for those with limited mobility and low dexterity. It can be controlled by keyboard only or by mouse only. What a shame then that Sys Consulting excluded Opera from its eSign program for the hearing impaired. Brian So deaf people can't read? As someone who has a significant hearing loss, nearly as deaf as a door post (and just as thick in the eyes of those that can't tell the difference between not hearing and brain damage!), I find this yet another extreme case of wannabe do-gooders doing something for a minority that doesn't need it, or really want it. These wannabe do-gooders need a wee bit of a reality check, or a good whacking across the head with a BIG clue stick. This really implies that deaf people are so thick and dumb, that they need words converted into visuals in order to understand. Not that those of us that have such a problem experience such attitudes or behaviour from the 'normal' people. Things such as T A L K I N G V E R Y S L O W L Y with extremely exaggerated mouth movements never p*sses us off, not at all, we just love being treated as retards by, well retards! To UEA, picture this please: A person standing in front of you with their right arm bent at the elbow in front of their torso. The hand is semi-closed (in an open fist shape) and the person is now moving it up and down in a SLOW and EXAGGERATED manner... Get the picture? Joskyn As a deaf consumer from a large deaf family with eight generations of deaf people, I approached the idea with an open mind. The signer is totally not acceptable as we do not like the false nature of the signing, we could not understand what was being signed. We fail to understand why so much money is actually spent on developing the idea when we, the real consumers, have always been against the idea. When the RNID introduced the Signing Avatars at some Post Offices in the UK, they did not meet the requirements and failed deaf consumers. Why don't they listen to us and provide access with real human signers as other websites provide via flash or movies - they're simply the best! Ramon Crikey. We weren't expecting quite that amount of venom. Says a spokeswoman for Deaf Connexions: "The audience is mainly profoundly deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users, for those who have BSL as their first language. There is a significant number of sign language users, which is why the government finally recognised it officially as a language in its own right last year. "For native BSL users, English is often not very accessible, so the more information available in BSL the better." There you go. The US released an intellectual property blacklist. You thought it read more like a list of places on the planet that were not the good ol' US of A: So basically what they're say is that everyone outside the US borders are considered problematic when it comes to the ridiculous manner in which companies in the US are awarded patents for no actual product, or won't allow the US to impose copy protection laws without sufficient fair use rights required by law in most other countries. For example, in many European countries, backups of purchased media is permissible, regardless of the methods used to make those backups. However in the US, if you circumvent copy protections in order to exercise your fair use rights, you're in violation of the DCMA. I know the US is trying to enforce a European DCMA, which is probably what they mean by "meriting bilateral attention to address the underlying IPR problems". This is just another example of the USA demanding everyone do as they say, regarding individual freedoms (even those of their own citizens) as some kind of communist/terrorist or whatever plot against them. Abuse of power is what it's all about these days, and (with the obvious exception of the Register) the media are just too spineless to report it. Apparently rule of law only applies if the US President is getting personal attention from interns in the Whitehouse, as opposed to bunging big tax-payer financed contracts to pet corporations, illegally threatening judges, assisting in the artificial inflation of energy prices (Enron forcing California to over pay for energy in order to profit from their energy crisis), financial irregularities in major corporations (guess what, Enron again, with troubling trails back to Dick and George) or shutting out Kerry supporting telecommunications companies from key decision making get togethers in Washington. The list could actually go on, but to what point, as no major media company has the balls to report on anything but the colour of the smoke coming out the Vatican chimney... Andy Bright This blacklist simply looks like a list of people whom the USA intends to bully into it's way of thinking. On of the reasons India is so high up is due to the pharmaceutical (drugs) industry, India does not allow the Copyrighting or Patenting of information, processes or goods that save human life, this allows generic drugs (ie. drugs identical to the IP covered US drugs) to be sold a the low prices that Indians need to be able to afford AIDS, Hep B and Cancer drugs, nevermind antibiotics and the like. Due to this respect for human life they are being penalised by the economically superior (but morally decadent) USA. Plague-like outbreaks of disease in Asia, Africa and other developing countries will continue and millions of people will daily lose their lives for the profit of a few wealthy people in, mainly, the USA. I've been reckoning for about a decade that India will be the next world superpower (though China has recently been changing rapidly enough to put up stiff competition) but regardless the USA ought beware as todays subservient wage slaves are easily nimble enough to be tomorrows economic power houses and beat them at their own game... India is, after all, growing one of the world's largest service industries and doesn't have nearly the same amount of heavy industry polluting the environment to clean up after, never mind a greater moral backbone that people are more likely to respect and follow. This all assumes that the USA doesn't just nuke the world when it starts to lose it's grip on world power... Keep up the interesting articles, Johann Can I just say "Kilo Mike Alpha"? I don't know how IPR and "Good faith negotiations" can be used in the same paragraph, never mind the same sentence. Mark Why is practically every trading block on the watch list? the EU? how much of that is for not rolling over and having Software Patents and for not being a push over in trading negotiations? I notice Australia isn't on the lists, although they have been known for their complete lack of spine recently in regards IP law. Regards, Martin A teenager who was sentenced this week for fraudulent behaviour on eBay put in an interesting plea for leniency: Quote "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." Soooo, he's knocked up some lass, and should get off because of it? Brilliant and innovative defence strategy. Time to browse the lonely hearts in preparation for any future criminal enterprises I might be planning... Mark Sticking with the criminal fraternity for a while, we also covered the story of the conviction and imprisonment of an online pot dealer, prompting email from one of his customers. For him, the budmonkey was no criminal fiend. He was running a site with security standards that our banks should consider imitating: As a former, loyal, customer of "Harry" @ budmonkey.co.uk I have to say that the site delivered fantastic customer service, offered first rate products (the likes of which I have only seen in Amsterdam) and always had amazingly prompt delivery. (I must find out where he's locked up and send him a thank you gift through the post - hermetically-sealed, of course). And no, contrary to your article, he was not the first. The first to be convicted perhaps, but not the first. The first of his kind, that I knew of, called it a day in the summer of 2003. Pepe, you were a master and are missed. What was best about the budmonkey experience was the leveraging of technology coupled with the security-minded site operators: a prime example would be the "state of the art encryption techniques" alluded to in your article. We're all adults, so lets call a spade a spade: Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) http://www.pgpi.org/ was the system used. I was able to communicate confidentially and freely with Harry, using PGP and it's (relatively) strong encryption, just as Harry was able to communicate with me freely and securely. Secure e-mail communication such as this is something that my BANK does not offer!!! Then again, the last time I visited my bank, the assistant's password was the **name of the bank** (once a sysadmin, always a sysadmin). No caps, no alpha-numerics, no special characters... With regards his client database having been encrypted and rendered unreadable by the authorities: that is commendable!!! How many tales have we all read recently where backup tapes have been 'lost', a laptop has been discarded/stolen/sold, or a security breach on a system/website exposed confidential client details? His PC was taken out of his control, into the possession of an organisation with specialised departments, resources and the determination to access the encrypted data. It would appear from the article that the encryption held. Nice to know that the RIPA works well on those already facing jail time ;-) The .com's out there should learn a lot from Harry's setup. Secure, encrypted communications; encryption of customer databases - nothing left to chance to protect both yourself and your clients if the worst happens (which undoubtedly does sooner or later). It is unfortunate for Harry that the worst did happen; that he wasn't able launder the volumes of money efficiently or stealthily, unlike the Wall Street bankers who launder between $500 billion and $1 trillion annually in the US alone. Had he been able to master this, he would be sitting pretty right now: alas it was his downfall. Then, maybe, he should have employed a Wall Street banker to do it for him. Once the treasury get it's cut, I wonder if they will realise just how much tax it could make if the sale of tetrahyrdocannabinol were legal and regulated... Maybe that is from whence the Lib Dem's, if elected, would fill their coffers. Harry, I salute you. You were a true professional, who's paranoia equalled only my own. Oft do I reminisce about the good old days when you were in business and that plain brown envelope dropped through the door: 1/4 of solid, wrapped in cardboard so as to not give the game away, all sealed up in the marvellous plastic wrapper. There are people out there, now, wishing they had known you - I am privileged to have conducted business with you. Hope you get out soon. Anon This next email arrived with so plaintive a tone, we had to take pity and include it in today's letters: Could I through your page make a plea for my sanity. This week one of my email boxes was rendered near unusable by 18000 sober virus emails during a 48 hours period days. These seem to have now died down. Unfortunately I am now getting flooded out by email server antivirus software telling me I sent out an email containing virus. As 99% of worms/viruses fake the sender information, would postmasters mind terribly if I asked that they just deleted the virus and didn't tell the sender about it. Then I might actually be able to get on with some work! Steve It would be lovely, wouldn't it? Finally, we must return to the terrifying Rise of the Machines (TM). US computer scientists didn't build that robot to help blind shoppers after all. There are darker schemes afoot: If this isn't another step towards the inevitable RoTM™ then I don't know what is. First people are innocently grabbing a shopping assistant, then before you know it the assistants are grabbing them and dragging them off to the nearest 'Andy' sex android. It's clearly all the work of the Lizard Alliance. Phil Good grief, Phil, you are right. It is a short step from robotic shopping assistant to homicidal Dalek. Thank goodness you spotted it in time. This, valiant reader, is another example of how quickly the guard can be dropped. We urge caution and vigilance at all times. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 06 May 2005

Genome may be future step for virus writers

Advances in genetic circuits may mean that virologists will have to look at the mechanics of Internet worms for a model of future threats. Recent technological advances in so-called genetic circuits have brought closer a world where cells and viruses could be modified to more effectively serve humans, but also have raised concerns that programmable life could lead to a host of tailored threats similar to Internet worms. In a paper in the 28 April issue of Nature, researchers at Princeton University and the California Institute of Technology announced that they had successfully modified the genetic code of a group of cells, programming the cluster to form different patterns based on the chemicals present in their environment. The results, while basic, highlight significant advances in the modification of biological organisms, said Ron Weiss, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Princeton and a co-author of the paper. "Developments are going to move fairly quickly," Weiss said. "At some point, we will have very good control over biological organisms, maybe to the level that we are with computers today." While computer scientists have modeled virtual life in simulation, the new programming techniques could mean that simple, tailored-made life could be a few decades away. The current stage of development is analogous to the state of transistor research in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Weiss said. He and his colleagues have already created the biological equivalent of many logical components common in the digital world, such as AND, NAND, and NOR gates. Significant strides are being made in related fields as well. In July 2002, researchers at State University of New York at Stony Brook announced they had recreated the polio virus using a DNA mapping downloaded from a genome database accessible on the Internet. And last December, a Harvard Medical School doctor teamed with a University of Houston researcher to create a DNA molecular chain of 14,500 chemical units, about twice that of the polio virus, effectively increasing the biological equivalent of program length. The goal is the beneficial modification of organisms to serve specific functions, Weiss said. Plants could be modified to act as detectors of dangerous chemicals and pathogens, and specialised cells could be created to deliver non-differentiated stem cells to help regenerate tissue. He acknowledges, however, that the technology could be abused. "With any powerful technology we have to be very careful of what we do," he said. Yet, if the proliferation of tailored-made Internet threats is any measure, tinkering with biological code could draw a host of malicious coders. Rather than programming in 0s and 1s, future virus writers might use messenger RNA, transcription controls and segments of DNA as code. Like digital viruses, programmable pathogens would evolve through malicious modification and specialised vaccines might be necessary. Moreover, just as the communications speed of the Internet and indirect connections to poorly secured systems lead to the rapid propagation of worms, the increasing accessibility by aircraft to parts of the world with limited medical care could lead to faster spread of viruses, both natural and man-made, said Jimmy Kuo, a research fellow for antivirus firm McAfee. "Physical viruses have been spreading for eons through contact," he said. "Over the past century, we have increased the level of contact and that has helped viruses spread." Until now, custom biological viruses have been the realm of science fiction. In his book Blood Music for example, author Greg Bear depicted a modified virus that accidentally spread throughout the world, changing the ecosystem. Other authors have tackled the theme of viruses that have been modified to target a single gender or race. Just like digital viruses that target certain vulnerabilities, operating systems, or even users - the current crop of Trojan horse programs targeting bank customers are a good example - biological viruses could be made to focus on a single genetic pattern. The potential for such specificity to become reality has worried some experts in the bioweapons field. The technology that will allow rogue scientists to target specific DNA sequences in the human genome is rapidly being developed, the British Medical Association said in a paper published in October 2004. "While it can be hoped that ethnically specific weapons will never become a reality, it would be foolish to imagine that they are an impossibility or that incredibly precise targeting might not become possible," Malcolm Dando, Professor at the University of Bradford and a co-author of the 2004 BMA report, stated in an earlier version of the report. The current solution is to limit access to the materials and knowledge to modify viruses. With the specialised knowledge needed to research such complex fields comes a solid understanding of the risks, said McAfee's Kuo. This coupled with restricted access to the necessary equipment and materials could reduce the threat greatly. Princeton's Weiss agreed. "There has been some talk in the community about limiting some of the precursors to DNA synthesis," he said. "Right now, if you are a bioterrorist, it's far easier to take something that people already know is toxic and work with that. Yet other experts believe that controlling genetic programming and bioweapon technology will be significantly more difficult than other non-proliferation efforts, such as attempts to control the spread of nuclear and chemical weapons. "Any biological nonproliferation regime will necessarily be less robust than its nuclear counterpart, because much of the relevant material, technology and knowledge is already far more widely distributed and will become more so in the coming decades," Christopher Chyba, Co-Director of Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, wrote in a 2002 paper on biological security. In the article, Chyba pointed to the failure to contain most Internet threats as a picture of what is to come, stating that biological security is second only to cybersecurity in the difficulty the field poses for standard nonproliferation measures. He declined to comment for this article. 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Robert Lemos, 06 May 2005

Fiorina ready to discuss 'most successful hi-tech merger in history'

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina has reemerged as brash and bold as ever on the public speaking circuit. Fiorina is the Washington Speakers Bureau's newest featured presenter, knocking the likes of former FCC Chairman Michael Powell and former Secretary of State Colin Powell from the "spotlight" position on the company's web site. What's Fiorina's dynamic topic of choice? "In (here) dynamic presentation, Carly Fiorina, former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, uses her personal experiences to share with audiences the three essential elements that espouse her vision of leadership - Character, Capability and Collaboration," the speaker agency writes. Fiorina will also touch on Change, Competitiveness, Women in Leadership and Technology, as needed. But many of you will likely find another topic more interesting. In the complete biography for the former HP chief, we learn that, "Fiorina successfully led HP's controversial merger with Compaq Computer Corp., now recognized as the most successful high-tech merger in history." Really? We seem to recall Fiorina being pushed out of HP in April largely because of lingering problems associated with the Compaq acquisition. Perhaps they meant "now recognized by Fiorina, her parents and friends" as the most successful high-tech merger in history. You'll also discover that Fiorina played a major role in "returning HP to its roots of innovation and inventiveness." We assume this refers to the company's printer business and not its outsourcing of chip production, software writing and device making to other companies. How much will it cost to get Fiorina at your gig? Well, she's on the "please call for price" list, which puts Fiorina at well over $40,000 a pop. ® Related stories HP prints up thousands of severance packages Why Fiorina wasn't the right man for the HP CEO post HP makes Hurd the $20m man Never Hurd of the new HP boss? Bye bye Carly, don't forget to write I'm Carly, Fly Me HP's Fiorina not amused by lack of investor interest
Ashlee Vance, 06 May 2005