EMC has put the squeeze on its Centera storage system aimed at archiving information. The company has announced a new, smaller and less expensive version of the Centera box, hoping to attract medium-sized companies to its relatively unique system. The new Centera - rather unceremoniously named "the four-node configuration" - will cost close to $100,000 and store up to 2.2TB of data. The current lowest-end version of EMC's eight-node Centera costs 35 percent more for close to 3.6TB of storage capacity. "We found that there were some customers out there who said, 'I just can't fathom needing more than 2TB for my fixed content,'" said Steve Spataro, a product marketing manager at EMC. "That's where this new system comes in." In the past, a four-node Centera would not have been practical because of the way EMC had designed the system. At least two of the nodes in the Centera would have been used to access the network and would only have limited use disk drives. If a customer then wanted to mirror the drives, they would basically have been left with one usable drive on a four-node system. EMC, however, has recently updated its Centera software so that the "access" drives can be used fully to store data as well. So a four-node system is truly a four-node system. Each node - or server - in the new Centera will hold four 320GB drives. Multiply that times 4 and mirror it, and you're left with close to the 2.2TB of usable capacity. The Centera systems have been aimed at customers looking to archive information on disk. EMC describes the boxes as the perfect products for storing "fixed content" or data that is not going to change. Most often, EMC points to images, e-mail, X-rays and medical records as the types of files meant to find their way onto a Centera. The smaller system could go to a mid-sized hospital, for example, or a five-person company "that houses drug information for Merck or Pfizer," Spataro said. One of the nicer features about the 7U, four-node Centera for medium-sized customers is that it will fit in existing racks. EMC has typically asked customers to purchase its rack for the larger box. Has EMC gone low enough on price to attract an entirely new customer base for Centera? It's hard to say. Having a disk-based system specially aimed at fixed content is still a relatively new concept. Companies of all sizes could use such a box, but it might be hard for smaller firms to justify a completely new $100,000 box for their SANs(storage area networks). The four-node Centera goes on sale worldwide later this month. ® Related stories EMC delivers again with strong Q1 EMC puts a super-Google in Centera boxes EMC floods market with new hardware
Troubled CRM vendor Siebel spoke to analysts last week and outlined strategy changes to help turn the company around. Recently appointed CEO George Shaheen said the company had work to do but the market was moving in its favour as the focus moves from back office to front office processes. Siebel said it would cut some jobs from the 5,000 staff it employs. Shaheen also said that apart from being a takeover target, Siebel talked to Oracle about a possible sale, Siebel is also interested in buying other companies. Analysts say the most likely target would be a business intellligence provider. Siebel also announced new products which will be sold alongside Siebel 7. It is a component based system so businesses will pick and choose which business processes they need. The software will run on several platforms and one analyst suggested it brought Siebel more into line with arch rival salesforce.com. More details here. In a recent K-8 filing with the SEC, Siebel said it was considering several opportunities but said there is no current consideration of a takeover. The company has more than $2bn in the bank despite its recent problems. There has been heavy trading in Siebel shares on rumours of takeover or management buyout. ® Related stories Oracle talked takeover to Siebel Siebel ditches boss Oh Woe is Siebel
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A Domain Name System (DNS) glitch left many surfers unable to reach Google for a short time on Saturday (7 May). The SNAFU also left Google services such as Gmail and AdSense unavailable for around 15 minutes between 2345 and 0000 (BST) on Saturday night. "It was not a hacking or a security issue," Google spokesman David Krane told AP. Some surfers were rerouted to SoGoSearch.com during the short "outage" - sparking rumours that Google had become the victim of a hacking attack. In reality the redirection happened because, in the absence of Google.com, some systems started looking for www.google.com.net addresses taking them to SoGoSearch.com, which owns the domain. ® Related stories DNS attacks attempt to mislead consumers Hushmail hit by DNS attack SANS revises Top 20 security vulns list The aftermath of a domain name hijack Trojan attack exploits Google typos
Cisco, Intel and BT have announced a joint initiative focused on wireless security. In particular, they aim to ensure that equipment supports the new WPA2 standard – the brand name for the 802.11i specification – from the outset. They aim to boost confidence in wireless security, but the alliance can also be seen as an attempt by a few giants to sew up the most lucrative part of the Wi-Fi market under the guise of secure platforms. This is not the only example this week of Cisco using its weight to push its preferred standards, and therefore sideline smaller players. It has set out new details of its plans for its newly acquired wireless switch unit, Airespace, which include the revival of that company's proposed standard for interoperability of switches and access points – a proposal that had previously faded from view in favor of alternative technologies from smaller companies. Collaboration The BT/Intel collaboration will center on optimizing Intel Centrino-powered devices, Cisco routers and BT security services to work together to create a robust WPA2 platform. The companies say that, despite the supposed interoperability of standardsbased kit, in practise many products include proprietary extensions, especially to bolt on WPA2 support to existing kit, and that this can lead to insecure or broken connections, or to systems that lock the user into the original vendor's equipment. The three partners claim there will be nothing non-standard in their combined solution, but the elements will be optimized to work well together. This 'some pigs are more equal than others' approach has echoes of Intel's deal with Cisco/Linksys to ensure Centrino devices work optimally with Linksys-based access points, an arrangement widely held up as an attempt by two large players to exclude smaller companies by offering users reassurance and a ready-integrated solution. However, whatever the marketing agenda, such moves by giants can really help to boost enterprise confidence in Wi-Fi security, which remains low despite steady improvements to standards and proprietary technology. In order to drive uptake of wireless security, the companies are also taking part in an education campaign to engage businesses, hotspot operators and consumers, and to encourage them to demand products and services with security built-in from the start. Airespace roadmap On the Airespace front, Cisco took the opportunity of last week's Networld+Interop show to make some clarifications about its plans for the company, whose centralized switch architecture contrasts with Cisco's homegrown Aironet 'fat' access points. The message was that both ranges would be supported for as long as was necessary, until full integration is achieved. Cisco says it is focusing on three integration areas. The first, due later this year, will be software to let current Aironet access points talk to, and be managed by, an Airespace controller. Significantly, although rival switchmakers are supporting technology from Trapeze and Aruba for a proposed IETF standard for interoperability of switches and APs, Cisco is clinging to an older technology, Lightweight Access Point Protocol (LWAPP), which was backed by Airespace. Although LWAPP has fallen out of the IETF process, it is likely that Cisco will seek to reintroduce it as a standard, since it will introduce it to the Aironet devices this year. The second area of integration will involve moving software functions, from Cisco products and the Airespace controller, into a range of other network devices, including switches and routers. This will build on early moves in this direction, when Cisco launched the WLAN Services Module, which slots into the Catalyst 6500 switch. The third area of integration will involve shifting a range of security functions, such as elements of 802.11i encryption and key management, 802.1X authentication, and wireless intrusion detection and prevention, into Cisco's emerging 'self-defending network' effort – another initiative widely seen as an attempt to lock customers into the giant's equipment from end to end by optimizing Cisco' varied products to work better as a single platform than in a multivendor environment. The Airespace products have been rebranded as the Cisco 100 Access Point, the Cisco 2000 and 4100 WLAN Controllers, and Cisco Wireless Control System for network management. They join the Aironet access points, Catalyst 6500 series switch and CiscoWorks Wireless Lan Solutions Engine for management. "We're in an awkward early stage because we have two product lines," said Dave Leonard, co-general manager of Cisco's Wireless Networking Business Unit. "Investment protection is our guiding light. We'll support both Airespace and Cisco products." "It takes forever for Cisco to kill a product line," Abner Germanow, an analyst at IDC, said. "The challenge for Cisco is stepping up and explaining where each WLAN architecture is most appropriate." Another new Cisco offering out of the Airespace labs is the Wireless Location Appliance 2700, which is designed to help customers track and locate 802.11 devices, such as laptops, PDAs and Wi-Fi enabled RFID tags, to within a few meters. This will be used for recovering lost property and for asset management applications. New ISR routers Other Airespace upgrades and products, under development at the time of the acquisition, will roll out in coming months, including a high end switch and an outdoor wireless mesh access point, with which Cisco hopes to target the public safety sector. Cisco also showed off new routers with built-in Wi-Fi, based on Aironet, products that fit into trends that will, eventually, kill off the dedicated wireless switch market in which Airespace was so successful as an independent. The routers, or router boards, will be able to handle Wi-Fi traffic as well as Ethernet and wide area connections. Such network-in-a-box devices are expected increasingly to replace standalone wireless switches. The new routers are the Integrated Services Router (ISR) 800 and 1800 series. Cisco is also announcing access point modules for its larger ISR routers, as well as upgraded Power over Ethernet switch modules, and new blades for network analysis management. All ISR 1800 series routers can act as an 802.11a/b/g access point, and include an eight-port 10/100 Ethernet switch with PoE. The smaller 870 and 860 are aimed at small offices or teleworkers. The 870 includes an 802.11g radio, QoS support for wide area traffic and a four-port 10/100 Lan switch with PoE. Some models are available with integrated DSL or an Ethernet port for cable modem connectivity. The 850 includes 802.11g, four Lan ports (without PoE) and DSL or cable modem support. The 870 series starts at $650 and the 850 series starts at $400. All Cisco's ISR products include VPN, firewall, intrusion detection and URL filtering capabilities embedded in hardware on the router, as opposed to running as software services. Cisco claims that the ISR series, launched last year, is the company's "most successful product line ever", because it has ramped up to $600m in shipments in under three quarters. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.
The long-awaited merger between NTL and Telewest appears to be on, according to The Sunday Times. The UK's two cablecos are lining themselves up for a £5.5bn merger creating a comms company that would be able to take on satellite TV giant Sky and dominant UK phone outfit BT, the paper reports. NTL has already hired its bankers for the proposed merger while Telewest is said to be heading to the US this week to chose its advisors. Execs at Telewest gave the proposed merger the thumbs up last week, according to the paper. Should the deal go ahead this time round - and let's be honest, we've been marched up this hill plenty of times before - it would create a company with annual revenues of around £3.3bn and some 5m punters. Predictably, no one at either NTL or Telewest was prepared to comment on what both companies described as "rumour and speculation". Neither was a spokeswoman for NTL prepared to comment on reports today that it is close to flogging its cable business in Ireland. UnitedGlobalCom (UGC) is still looking favourite to snap up the business even if it does pass through the hands of a thirty party beforehand. In March NTL said it was "evaluating strategic alternatives for our business in the Republic of Ireland, which may include a divestiture" and reported that prospective buyers had already expressed "considerable interest". NTL Ireland offers digital and analogue cable TV to homes in Dublin, Waterford and Galway and broadband in parts of Dublin. ® Related stries French cableco front runner to buy NTL Ireland Broadband gods smile on Telewest NTL hits copper trail to ADSL2+ NTL completes £1.27bn sale of broadcast division
CommentComment The mobile market is gearing up for the launch of the latest release of Microsoft Windows Mobile, codenamed Magneto, in the second half of this year, and for once the company's own marketing machine is more cautious than many commentators. While Gartner Group analysts stated last week that they believed the Symbian smartphone operating system's huge lead would "evaporate" with the launch of Magneto, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates told a press conference at the annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHec) that "there will be tons of operating systems". We have already seen Microsoft, with its recent integration alliances with Symbian and BlackBerry maker RIM, shifting towards trying to dominate the middleware platform rather than, necessarily, the client operating system. This recognizes a trend already fully appreciated by Symbian's main supporter, Nokia, with its heavy focus on positioning its higher level software, such as its Series 60 environment, as a standard platform for enterprise and consumer devices. Three years ago SymbianOS and Windows Mobile – with PalmOS and Linux on the sidelines – were lined up for a head-to-head war. Now that war is increasingly irrelevant, and the battle has become one focused on a broader software platform that is largely neutral to the client device. The Nokia challenge Nokia has a headstart in this respect in the purely mobile market, with its highly advanced Series 60 and security platforms, but Microsoft has the enormous advantage of the installed base of applications such as Exchange/Outlook, which will be fully mobilized in Magneto, and the mobile extensions to important products such as Office Live Communications Server. "Obviously there's a business market where connecting up to Office and Outlook is a very big deal and as we're making Office better we can have the phone evolve," said Gates. But he was respectful of Nokia's strengths in his media conference, and very clearly positioned the Finnish company as the only challenger to recognize in the mobile space. Other smaller challengers, as the RIM story has shown, can be neutralized through integration deals, luring these suppliers with the promise of access to the huge Exchange base. Gates indicated that the issue is no longer predominantly about operating systems. "You really wouldn't say Symbian, they're really just an ingredient provider to a few people. You really have to say Nokia, because they're the ones who take that and add a bunch of things to it and change it, who create a user interface around it," he said. Bringing the PC software model to phones Gates pinpointed the real issue when he said: "the phone is largely becoming a software device", a trend that, of course, should benefit a software company over a device maker like Nokia. But Symbian and the Nokia smartphones have well over half of the admittedly embryonic sector, with Windows hardly to be seen outside of its traditional corporate PDA base, a device type that is in decline. Gates is well aware that Windows Mobile has made almost no headway in the consumer side of the smartphone market, and that to replicate the appeal of the PC, it needs to be a platform that is used interchangeably in the office and at home. But his solution, though interesting, sounds too long term to fend off the rampaging Nokia in the power consumer market. The heart of the Microsoft vision of a ubiquitous device and interface is automation. "Some of the really interesting stuff, like where you take a photo and it recognizes that that's a sign you want translated or that's an address you want to see a map related to, or it's an expense report so you just OCR it and get it into expense software," he suggested. "The kind of automatic behavior that can come out of deep software running on the phone, that plays to our strength. So we're just at the beginning of our mobile phone thing, because speech recognition, visual recognition, and data is just beginning to be a meaningful thing in terms of phone usage." These ideas are not unique – they are the focus of mobile R&D for IBM, Nokia, Ericsson and many others. Microsoft's disadvantage will be that - even if Magneto proves to be its traditional 'third time lucky' release and a serious mobile OS after a couple of lightweights – it will be integrating these advanced features into devices well after its rivals and will probably have lost the chance of major market share in handset systems. Its advantage will be its enterprise penetration, which it is aggressively seeking to extend into the carriers, and the chance to incorporate features such as voice and visual recognition into advanced middleware, regardless of how many clients it supports. Java The next big dilemma, if we assume Microsoft will shift away from supporting only Windows at the client end, will be whether also to support non-Microsoft ecosystems, notably mobile Java. Gartner's Nick Jones and John Girard believe that the mobile version of Java (J2ME) has been "hijacked" by the operators and pushed as an alternative to SymbianOS or Windows. Although this is true of the platforms devised for carriers like Vodafone in the consumer content space, it misses the fact that one of Symbian's and Nokia's key strengths is also their strong support of Java. This enables them more easily to form integrated partnerships with companies supporting Java at the server level – notably IBM – to deliver server-to-handset mobile enterprise solutions, more comprehensive than the Windows .Net equivalents. We believe the new strength and functionality of modern J2ME, and its active support by all major platforms except for Microsoft's, is far more significant to the evolution of the mobile ecosystem than the pros and cons of the client OSs. The software technology has taken the high ground, especially in the mobile enterprise sector and the content delivery space. The next big decision for Microsoft will be whether to embrace that technology too in its quest to ensure that its key platforms become dominant in its most important markets, the corporates and the digital media world. Perhaps Gates was giving a clue when he told WinHec: "There will be tons of operating systems. There will always be tons of software stacks in mobile phones." Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories Microsoft goes after Blackberry with Magneto Mobile email consolidation kicks off T-Mobile delays 3G Wi-Fi phone debut
The creators of LugRadio, a fortnightly radio programme that takes an irreverent look at Linux and open source, are holding a Linux community event this summer in Wolverhampton. It is aimed at open source fans, rather than corporate IT buyers, and the emphasis is very much on fun, rather than sales pitches. For five measly pounds, you will have access to an all day bar (although you will still have to pay for the beer, obviously), a non corporate exhibition, LAN gaming and a Question Time-style panel event where you will get to quiz some of the great and the good on your pet topics. As well as all that, the organisers have put together a really interesting looking list of speakers. There will be presentations from the likes of Bill Thompson, a tech commentator who does a lot of work for Auntie Beeb; Rufus Pollock, digital rights campaigner; Sarah Ewen, head of Sony's Playstation Linux and Ian Bell, co-creator of the classic game - Elite. Gervase Markham, probably best known for his involvement with Mozilla, will also be giving a talk, entitled "Phishing: Conning the Unwary for Fun and Profit". If you can stand it, or can still stand after the thrill of access to an all day bar, the next day there will be paintball. Hoo-yah. Find out more here. ® Related stories The Larry and Linus Show: personalities vs principles? New top dog for MS Europe's public sector IBM pledges 500 patents to OS developers
Quocirca's changing channelsQuocirca's changing channels There is a corner of the IT world that is about to get interesting as vendors look to grow revenues in a tightening market. Mid-sized companies are set to be the main battle ground and resellers the vendors' principle weapons. Welcome to the world of managed email filtering. A few years ago when spam and the malware it can harbour was a minor problem the main efforts around email filtering were focussed on what left the business rather than what entered it. The spam problem proliferated fast and IT managers had to respond quickly. They either used an updated version of their exiting product for filtering outgoing email or purchased a new, more specialist solution. This could either be another software package, a specialist bit of hardware (appliance) or a managed email filtering service. At first there was plenty of market-share for everyone. The suppliers of the software and appliances quickly followed the pattern of other IT vendors, securing their home market and then going global. But the market for managed email filtering developed differently. In Europe MessageLabs, a spin off from Star, a UK internet service provider (ISP), quickly dominated the market, although today there are alternatives from a few smaller UK based vendors (the best known is BlackSpider, but smaller niche vendors exist like INSL/SpheriQ and Email Systems). The US was soon dominated by two of their own home grown vendors Postini and Frontbridge. As the world's ever growing use of email has now been saved from doom by the efforts of the spam filtering vendors and most businesses have a solution in place, either directly or indirectly via an ISP or other outside service provider, all the email filtering vendors have been trying work out how to keep growing. There are three main options open to them: 1 - Second generation decisions (businesses replacing what their current solution with something better). 2 - Expanding their range of services beyond email filtering. 3 - Move into new geographic territories. For the vendors of managed email filtering services, it is the last of these that seems the best bet and this is heating up the market. For the UK based vendors MessageLabs and BlackSpider, continental Europe is an obvious place to turn because over the channel the market for managed email filtering is immature, indeed some say it will never fly because of local privacy laws, but the vendors reckon they can work around these. MessageLabs has also been offering their service in the US for some time, but it is hard chipping away at two large incumbents. The real excitement is going to remain in Europe which Frontbridge and Postini see as ripe for picking. A year or so ago Frontbridge pitched in but has made slow progress. In the last few months, Postini has also crossed the Atlantic, setting up infrastructure and recruiting resellers – and it is this later activity that is going to be the key to its success. Managed email filtering services are at their most attractive in the huge mid-market, best addressed via resellers. Postini's recruitment drive has already attracted some impressive VARs, some ditching Frontbridge, disillusioned with its initial efforts in Europe. MessageLabs is not sitting back; in the past it has paid lip-service to resellers, in the UK at least, but it now says it is changing and anyway, in the drive for global presence, MessageLabs has another trick up its sleeve – IBM. IBM is trying to increase its own presence in the mid-market and to this end it is offering a range of managed services via its Global Services division. IBM is re-badging the MessageLabs service and selling it directly and via its own resellers to the global mid-market. IBM also resells the Frontbridge service, but this is aimed at larger businesses, an area Frontbridge sees as one of its core strengths. How ever it plays out over the next 12 months, no market is going to support three large and a number of smaller vendors long term, especially when their service is just one of a number of ways to do the job. The decisions that resellers make when selecting vendors to work with will be the main driver of success for the winners in this battle. Bob Tarzey is a service director at Quocirca focussed on the route to market for IT products and services in Europe. Quocirca (www.quocirca.com) is a UK based research and analysis firm with a focus on the European and global markets for IT. Related stories Are you storing up email trouble? Save us from spam 13 EU countries link up to fight spam
PalmOne today responded to mounting speculation that it is preparing a fourth family of handheld products. It is to launch a "new category" of mobile-computing products this month - called the "Mobile Manager". This confirms recent reports that the PDA pioneer was preparing a hard drive-based device running the customary Palm OS but pitched more as a personal data carrier than one of its more PIM-centric devices. Originally rumoured to be called the LifeDrive, then the Tungsten X, the unit was most recently dubbed the LifeDrive Mobile Manager, a name confirmed by an entry that appeared on Amazon.com last week. Mobile Manager is pitched at "a growing number of people today want access to greater volumes of digital business, personal, entertainment and online content that is as mobile as they are". The Mobile Manager devices "are designed for customers who are eager to take full advantage of the trend toward 'digital everything' - from documents and email to music, images and video, as standalone files or in organised folders". Palmone today said it would "deliver a new category of mobile-computing product that will let customers fuse their own mix of personal and business content in ways never before possible in either handheld computers or smart phones". The Mobile Managers will sit alongside PalmOne's three other product brands: Zire, Tungsten and Treo. As we suggested last week, PalmOne is thinking of a cross between pocket hard drives, USB Flash disks, PDAs and media players, and has come up with a unit that is, in essence, removable storage with the ability to view and interact with data. But is this jack-of-all-trades the right device for the job or will people prefer separate smart phones, iPods and the like? Either way, PalmOne has little choice but to drive the evolution of the PDA this way if the device is to ever have a future as something more than the front-end of a GPS navigation system. According to the Amazon.com LifeDrive page, the device will ship in just over a week's time, for around $500. ® Related stories Amazon.com leaks PalmOne LifeDrive info GPS drives Euro PDA shipments Smart phones boom - Symbian up, MS and Palm down PalmOne 'Life Drive' photos surface PalmOne posts mixed Q3
Virus writers are using claims that Tony Blair's email address has been hacked as a ruse to trick punters into visiting sites hosting malware. The false claim was made in a series of spam messages sent out on 6 May, the day after a UK general election that resulted in Blair's Labour party return to office for a record third term. Recipients of the "BBC: Tony Blair email account hacked!" messages were invited to visit a site that claimed to offer a screenshot of "Blair's hacked account". In reality visitors were sent to a site harbours a series of Trojan horses that aim to steal confidential information from infected PCs, including sensitive online banking account details. Users are advised to be wary of any such unsolicited message. "Clicking on the link takes users to a website which invisibly installs a Trojan horse on the victim's computer. This Trojan horse then attempts to install other malicious code onto the infected computer and install password stealers which can be used by hackers for grabbing sensitive information and bank account details," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. One of the Trojan horses, PWSAgent-A, attempts to steal INETCOMM server passwords, Microsoft Internet Explorer FTP passwords, Outlook account manager passwords, among other thing. Other malware components of the attack include the JDownL-A, Viper-A, Viperjs-A and the Dumaru-BE banking Trojan horse. All these items of malware affect only Windows machines, as is the norm. It's not the first time the British prime minister has featured in a viral attack. In 2003, the Quarters worm overwrote files on infected PCS with a rant against the policies of Tony Blair's government. The worm also used infected Windows boxes as a platform to launch a denial-of-service attack against the 10 Downing Street website. The attack failed in its aim to knock the Downing Street website offline. ® Related stories Hacktivists DDoS 10 Downing St site New worm tries to bring down Downing Street website Hacktivists claim coup against global leaders site
Business Serve - the acquisitive Lancaster-based ISP - has poached a top techie from broadband ISP Nildram. Until recently, Andrew Kimberlee, 41, was technical operations director at Pipex-owned Nildram. Now he's switched to Business Serve with a new job title of Technical Director. He's been hired to boost Business Serve's technical and operations division as the company looks to offer VoIP and converged comms to SMEs and retail punters. Business Serve - which employs some 200 staff - has grown rapidly after snapping up half a dozen or so businesses since it floated on AIM in February 2004. ® Related stories Business Serve hops on VoIP bandwagon Business Serve posts profit The Great ISP Buyout Business Serve buys VoIP outfit Business Serve snaps up Vital Online Business Serve floats on AIM Business Serve buys Legend Internet
Research In Motion's Blackberry service now has more than 3m subscribers. RIM today announced its customer base had passed 2m in November 2004, just under six months ago. Growing subscribers by 50 per cent in such short a space of time is no mean feat. It took the company nine months to add 1m subscribers after it announced in February 2004 it had reached its first million users. RIM said the new total is in line with its most recent forecast, made early last month, which called for 560,000-590,000 new subscribers to join the service during Q1 FY2005, which ends 28 May 2005. It bullishly says it is gearing up to cope first with 5m subscribers and then 10m users, although it provided no guidance as to when it might pass these milestones. But with the NTP lawsuit resolved, RIM is free to license its Blackberry Connect software to US mobile phone vendors as it has been doing in Europe. The vast majority of its subscribers connect to the service using RIM's own hardware devices, but the number using third-party phones and handsets is growing. In March it signed a deal to put Blackberry Connect on future PocketPC phones from popular Taiwanese ODM HTC. ® Related stories GPS drives Euro PDA shipments World mobile phone sales slow Smart phones boom - Symbian up, MS and Palm down Mobile email consolidation kicks off Microsoft goes after Blackberry with Magneto RIM edges into Q4 loss RIM settles NTP lawsuit for $450m RIM signs IM pacts RIM takes active-user total to 2m
Computer 2000, the UK arm of distributor Tech Data, has appointed Darren Neath to the top spot in its software division. Neath was previously a business manager in the disty’s HP division concentrating on peripherals. He is now general manager of C2000's software division. Prior to joining C2000 Neath ran product management at monitor vendor Taxan.® Related stories C2000 gets new print boss C2000 offers lessons in software C2000 gears up for Microsoft sales binge
AMD is to transition all its desktop processors to Socket M2 in H2 2006, following the upcoming connectivity system's introduction next year. Both interconnects will also support dual-channel DDR 2 SDRAM, which would mean that rumours that AMD would skip DDR 2 and go straight to DDR 3 are unfounded. So sat Taiwanese PC and server makers who claim to have seen the chip maker's roadmap, according to a DigiTimes report. Socket M2 will be initially supported by future Opteron 1xx parts, while the two-way and four-way versions of AMD's server chip family will use Socket F. M2 will use a 940-pin port, it seems, while F will use 1207 pins. Both interconnects will presumably pave the way for the quad-core processors AMD expects to ship in 2007, but they will also be used by single- and dual-core chips too. M2 and F will replace AMD's current array of interconnects: Socket 754, used by Sempron and Athlon 64 parts; Socket 939, used by Athlon 64 and Athlon 64-FX; and Socket 940, used by Opteron 1xx, 2xx and 8xx processors. The chip maker is currently deprecating the old Socket A interconnect, and it is expected to migrate the Opteron 1xx line to Socket 939 later this year. ® Related stories Bashful IBM takes orders for Opteron blade server Intel feels healthy and dual-core happy 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 AMD trims Sempron, Athlon 64 prices
The Lads from Lagos have been a bit quiet of late, which led us to suspect that they may have all gone and got proper jobs which do not involve attempting to part fools from their hard-earned cash with promises of riches beyond the wildest dreams of avarice. But no, mercifully for those of us who like our scams with a Nigerian 419 flavour, the Boys from Abuja continue to eschew traditional employment in favour of fleecing hapless punters. Here's the latest line of attack: post highly attractive job ad on monster.co.uk and wait for eager jobseekers to submit their applications: BACKLEYS RECRUITERS COMPANY, 25 AJAOKUTA STREET, VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS, NIGERIA, 23401. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org From the Desk of Mr. James Backley ATTN: BACKLEYS RECRUITERS COMPANY, pursuant to the service contract with BOLEX COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY, intends to Invite experienced and reputable persons having prime experience and capable of providing an Information Technology support services (as individuals or in a team). You are liable to contact The project Co-Ordinator of BOLEX COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY for any confirmation in regards to the project at hand through as follows: (Mr. Fran Oge) email@example.com TEL: 234-805-581-7164. The ideal candidates will have commercial acumen and people skills, and must be forward thinking, flexible, committed and passionate. Must demonstrate previous experience from within a similar role. This article is been advertised, so as to confirm your application for the project. If you are interested in the offer please select one of the skill sets below, in which you feel you can work well. We would not be giving contractors a telephone interview due to logistics, so a personal interview is scheduled to hold one on one as soon as you resume for duty. Contractors should be aware that as soon as we receive your CV, you will eventually be qualified based on your CV and your work experiences,and we will automatically get back to you soonest as soon as you are been shorlisted due to the limited time factor before the date of resumption for duty. Contractors are hereby mandated to respond to this article as soon as possible because the project will eventually be proceeding on the 1st of June, 2005. In Respect to this offer if interested, you are required to contact the project Co-Ordinator, Mr. Fran Oge firstname.lastname@example.org TEL: 234-805-581-7164 And so on and so forth. Looks legit-ish, but here come the sting: You are liable to make charges of about USD$950.00 for the procurement of your working and residential permit documents which covers: Administrative charges: Diplomatic Courier Charges: Working Permit charges: Residential Permit charges: Hard copies of the terms: Expenses incurred, in respect to the procurement of your working and residential permit must be substantiated with receipt and this should be forwarded to me for later re-embursement after 14 days of procurement. You are to receive the hard copies of the contract terms and agreement and also your working and residential permit altogether, it will be delivered through Diplomatic Courier Services(DHL) to your various designated addresses respectively. Yup, they don't call it advance fee fraud for nothing. The above was sent to us by reader Jon, who notes that Monster pulled the ad as soon as he informed them of the outrage. However, it's clear that our Nigerian friends have lots and lots of job opportunities, because the following email (forwarded by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous) is in response to a query regarding a Project Manager position for Evans Petroleum Company in Madrid. Interestingly, it's identical to the job description posted for the BOLEX COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY advertisement: From: Carl Fiorentino
Subject: offer of appointment
Date: Tue, 3 May 2005 04:04:30 -0700 (PDT)
Attention Mr XXXX,
I want you to know that the company has offered you the position as the Project Managet for this 6 months contract. this are you responsibilities as the project manager.
Specific anticipated duties are as follows,
1.Plans,directs, and coordinates project activities to ensure that goals or objectives of project are accomplished within prescribed time frame and funding parameters:
2.Reviews project proposal or plan to determine time frame, funding limitations, procedures for accomplishing project, staffing requirements, and allotment of available resources to various phases of project.
3.Establishes work plan and staffing for each phase of project, and arranges for assignment of project personnel.
4.Confers with project staff to outline work plan and to assign duties,responsibilities, and scope of authority.
5.Directs and coordinates activities of proje ct personnel to ensure project progresses on schedule and within prescribed budget.
6.Reviews status reports prepared by project personnel and modifies schedules or plans as required.
7.Prepares project reports for management, client, or others.
8.Confers with project personnel to provide technical advice and to resolve problems.
This is a preview of your letter of appointment and entitlements
PLACEMENT TERMS FOR PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING SERVICES PROVIDER (S)
The management Evans Petroleum Company hereby wishes to present to you the following terms of job.
JOB PERIOD: You shall resume for duty on the 10th of May 2005
ENTITLEMENTS: All salary and expense figures shall be in U.S. Dollars (USD).
SALARY: Expatriates shall be entitled to a Net Salary of US$180,000.00 in (6) months. This salary shall be paid monthly at US$30,000.00. Work time shall be 40 hours workweek for the 26 weeks job term. Any work performed beyond the normal 40 hrs a week, work time, shall be due for an overtime benefit to be paid at $300.00 per hour.
LODGING: First class accommodation will be provided.
TRAVEL: US$3,000.00 flat rate travel/entertainment allowance, shall be paid to employee by employer for each intercontinental trip.
MEDICAL EXPENSES : Employer will provide employee with comprehensive healthcare for the term of job, and follow-on care for injuries suffered during the term of job.
VACATION : Employees shall be authorized two weeks of paid vacation during the term of the job.
Office Assets: Employees are entitled to a laptop.
LOCAL TRANSPORT : Vehicles and other means of transport shall be adequately provided for .
MOBILIZATION: the first monthly salary and other entitlement shall be paid upon arrival to resume duty in nigeria.
I will be looking forward to hear from you soonest.
And there you have it. As the old saying goes: if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Jobseekers should consider themselves duly warned. ®
The "Carl Fiorentino" bit is a nice touch. Good to see the Lads from Lagos have a sense of humour - an essential prerequisite for laughing all the way to the bank.
419er seeks flatshare with Reg reader
419ers recruit asylum-seeking mortician
419ers take Aussie financial advisor for AU$1m
Intel Japan has been hit with a two-month government procurement ban. According to a Japan Today report from 20 April, the Kinki (!)Regional Development Bureau, part of Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, knocked Intel Japan off its list of bidders for IT procurement contracts. The punitive ban lasts for two months, and comes after the Japanese Fair Trade Commission told Intel to stop providing local computer makers with rebates in return for only ordering Intel processors. Intel has promised to do so, though it maintains that its activity - which it has never denied - is legal and acceptable when measured against international standards of business behaviour. As a company that claims to have been adversely affected by the rebate policy, AMD disagrees with its arch-rival's analysis of the situation, and has been calling on government IT procurers around the world to end vendor-prejudicial tender terms and conditions. Last month, the Japanese Secretariat to the Inter-Ministry/Cabinet Consultative Committee on Information Technology System Procurement effectively told government procurement staff to use objective benchmarks and performance measures for contract specifications. The US Office of Management and Budget made much the same demands, as did the French Ministry of Economy and Finances when, in March, it instructed government technology buyers to stop using either brand names or minimum clock frequency specifications in tenders' processor descriptions. ® Related stories AMD cheers govt calls to end 'single-vendor' IT tenders Intel heeds Japanese antitrust probe warning Japan calls Intel to task over anti-AMD rebates New Intel Irish plants 'under threat' Ireland withdraws grants for 1.6bn Intel fab Germany bans 'Intel only' IT tenders EC widens Intel-only contracts probe EC threatens court action over Intel-only contracts
Bad luck continues to dog Brits Colin Fallows and Mike Newby who have failed again to break the battery-powered land speed record in their ABB e=motion vehicle. The 32-ft monster refused to play ball in Nevada on Saturday, and the team eventually abandoned their attempt after a series of false starts possibly provoked by a throttle problem. The car's designer, Colin Fallows, said: "It's been one of the most difficult weeks that we've had," a sentiment echoed by driver Mike Newby thus: "To get so close, and yet be so far, is frustrating for us all, for sure." Newby added: "It's safe, it's fast, and it's a real good piece of kit. It's just that sometimes in motorsport - in any sport - you get circumstances that conspire against you." In June 2004, a previous bash at the record on Chott-el-Jerid salt flats in Tunisia also ended in frustration. Nonetheless, the team will return with their cantankerous milk float to the UK for a thorough post-mortem, and - according to the BBC at least - will have another go next year. The current official FIA (Fédération Internationale d'Automobile) electric land speed record stands at 245 mph (394 kph). Fallows and Newby reckon that ABB e=motion should be able to add 55mph to that, thereby becoming the first battery-driven vehicle to break the 300 mph (483 kph) barrier under FIA rules. ® Related stories Mach 0.3 milk float goes for land speed glory Jet-powered wheelchair wows Brits Briton invades France in amphibious car
Never underestimate the resourcefulness, or perhaps parsimoniousness, of Register readers. After last week's article pointing out how emailed data is liable to VAT, quite a few people responded along the lines of "Durr - why not just burn a CD and put it in the post? Won't that escape VAT?" And the answer? Yes, it will avoid the evil 17.5 per cent bump-up. "In fact we do, if requested, burn CDs and post them, and our accountants are quite happy for us not to add VAT to our invoices if we do send data in this way," said Paul Redfern, who tipped us off to the whole weird thing in the first place. "The VAT on e-mailed data is on the supply of the service ([that] I do you in using email to send you the data), not the supply of the product (the data themselves)." Of course, burning a CD and waiting for the Royal Mail to deign to collect it from a box rather spoils the immediacy of having wires (or radio signals) connecting the world to increase the speed of communication; you're in effect being taxed for doing things quicker. And don't think that the folk in Brussels are going to watch all these CD-Rs being posted lying down. Oh no. Dr Redfern says that there are "moves afoot" to close this loophole. Meanwhile, if you'd like to understand the "thinking" behind a tax on how data is sent, you could do worse than read this one on "Application of the EU Value Added Tax to E-Commerce Transactions". ® Related stories Sending data by email: a govt licence to print money VAT on email troubles Reg readers
EasyMobile has rejected reports that the discount mobile telephone outfit is a flop. When it launched in March it claimed to have sparked a "mobile war" in the UK amid claims that this new cut price approach would shake-up the sector. However, far from being a threat to the established mobile phone industry, The Telegraph reports that the Stelios-backed business has failed to take off and only signed up 5,000 punters in the two months since its launch. But speaking to The Register, easyMobile boss Frank Rasmussen dissed the report insisting that the numbers quoted were "not correct". He declined to say exactly how many punters easyMobile had attracted so far except to say that it was "more than 5,000". And since the company has only been marketing the business for the last two weeks (March was just a "soft launch" apparently), Rasmussen added it was "a little too soon [for others] to judge". Indeed, plans to roll-out easyMobile into Europe are still going ahead. Last month TDC - one of the companies behind easyMobile - has teamed up with Dutch network operator Telfort to launch the no-frills mobile service in the Netherlands. Speaking last month, Rasmussen said he had "great expectations for... the Netherlands", proclaiming: "We have already introduced the concept in the UK and gained our first international experience. In spite of the incumbent British operators having responded aggressively to our introduction, the launch in the UK was very successful and exceeded our expectations." ® Related stories Fresh undercuts discounted easyMobile tariffs Virgin Mobile slags off easyMobile... easyMobile launches - finally CPW halves cost of mobile phone calls EasyMobile keeps schtum on tariffs Orange sues Stelios for 'passing off' Stelios eyes Europe for easyMobile service easyMobile set for March launch Stelios to hop into bed with T-Mobile
ReviewReview AMD announced the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 on 22 April. The chip won't ship until June, when it will be formally launched. Until then, all we have to go on is the pre-release technical preview kit AMD has been hawking of late, writes Leo Waldock.
Taiwanese vendor Tyan today introduced its latest two-way AMD Opteron-based server mobo: the Thunder K8SE (S2892). The Thunder K8SE supports current Opteron 2xx series processors, and is ready for dual-core versions when they ship later this quarter, Tyan said. The CPUs are backed by Nvidia's nForce Pro 2200 chipset, which provides twin PCI Express x16 slots (one with x16 signalling, the other with x4 signalling), 3GBps Serial ATA 2 with RAID for connecting up to four drives. An AMD 8130 PCI-X chipset hooks in the board's three PCI-X slots, while a Broadcom BCM5704C controller handles the mobo's twin twin Gigabit Ethernet ports. The board also sports a third, 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, controlled by an Intel 82551QM chip, and a pair of USB 2.0 connectors. Graphics comes courtesy of an ATI Rage XL PCI graphics controller with 8MB of video RAM. Tyan said the Thunder K8SE (S2892) is currently shipping in volume to all customers the world over. ® Related stories Review: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ dual-core CPU Bashful IBM takes orders for Opteron blade server Supermicro abandons Intel-only stance, embraces Opteron Boston jumps on Opteron bandwagon Tyan unveils nForce Pro mobos
Intel has confirmed that it is updating its Pentium 4 5xx family this quarter, adding support for 64-bit addressing and processing. The new chips will not ship until 10 June. The Pentium 4 5x1 series replaces today's 5x0 P4s, Intel reveals in a document sent to its customers and seen by The Register. It's all quite straightforward: the 570, for example, will become the 571, the extra unit in the chip's model number representing the result of the addition of EM64T. The clock speed - 3.8GHz - remains the same, as do the frontside bus speed (800MHz) and the L2 cache size (1MB). Each chip in the family will retain its original CPU ID code, too. However, motherboards will require a BIOS update to add support for 64-bit operation, if they don't have it already. Interestingly, Intel said in a separate document that is also renaming the P4 505 as the 506, again because of the addition of EM64T support. However, there's no 505 on the company's price list. It's a 2.66GHz part that unlike other 5x1 P4s only runs a 533MHz FSB, and so far as we can tell is only available as a boxed product. The 5x1 P4s appeared in Intel roadmaps earlier this year. Comments from Intel sources had led us to believe the chips might also include support for the company's Virtualisation Technology (VT), but there's no indication of this in the chip maker's note to customers. ® Related stories Intel kills 64-bit Pentium 4s Intel sees virtualization as key to child-proof PCs P4 to get Virtualisation Tech before dual-cores do Intel drops 'Vanderpool' handle Intel to bring 64-bit to P4, Celerons in Q2
An imaging scientist believes that he has found NASA's failed Mars Polar Lander after re-examining pictures of the Martian surface taken in 1999-2000. The likely crash site was found by scientists at Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), the company that operates the main camera on board the Mars Global Surveyor. Michael Malin, president and chief scientist of MSSS, has published the findings in the July issue of Sky and Telescope Magazine. He says that his search was prompted by the recent use of images from the Mars Global Surveyor to locate the rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. The NASA mission is thought to have crashed during its descent in 1999, when a software error caused the landing rockets to shut down too soon, a theory supported by this new visual evidence. The system is thought to have confused the vibration of a landing leg deploying with the impact of landing. When the lander rockets cut out, the craft would have been some 40m above the ground. Malin says he has also located what looks like the lander's parachute in the vicinity of the possible landing site. He writes: "It seems that the MPL investigation board may have been correct. MPL's descent proceeded more or less successfully through atmospheric entry and parachute jettison. It was only a few short moments before touchdown that disaster struck. "The observation of a single, small dot at the centre of the disturbed location suggests that the vehicle remained more or less intact after its fall." Malin now plans to send the Global Surveyor back tot he site to re-image it at a higher resolution. You can read more, and check out the pictures on the BBC News site, here. ® Related stories Mars Express starts unfurling radar booms Europe will land on Mars in 2013 NASA takes alien hunt to Mexico
Entanet is looking for more resellers to work with its telecoms and voice services arm Entacall. Business ISP Entanet believes dealers realise there is a market for voice services but are unsure as to how to sell them. The partner recruitment programme will particularly target resellers who target SME customers. Entacall offers scripts which dealers can include on their websites to allow customers to sign up for cheaper telecoms call plans. ® Related stories Mistral snaps up Astra 'Large number' of ISPs face ruin - UKIF DiData wipes slate clean with Proxicom disposal
UK public WLAN provider The Cloud is to equip 85 railway stations operated by First Great Western (FGW) with Wi-Fi hotspots, the two companies said today. The first access points will go live in ten stations this summer: Reading, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath Spa, Didcot Parkway, Swindon, Exeter St Davids, Bristol Parkway, Plymouth, Newbury and Slough. The remaining 75 stations, all in the West of England, will be equipped with Wi-Fi "in due course", FGW said. Railway WLANs have become the Holy Grail for European WISPs in the quest to get business users wirelessly logging onto the internet and corporate VPNs, and paying handsomely to do so. Train operator companies (TCOs) like the idea too, as a way of tempting road and air passengers back onto the railways. They also see it as a way of enhancing their own company networks. The Cloud comes a little later than most WISPs to the rail party, though to be fair it's taken many UK TCOs some time to get to a position where station and train refit schedules have allowed them to start building in Wi-Fi technology. Last November, The Cloud signed a deal to install WLANs at Swedish railway stations through a partnership with Jernhusen, which manages Swedish railway real estate and stations. The FGW deal marks the company's first major UK rail project, and follows its installation of a hotspot at FGW's First Class Lounge at London's Paddington station earlier this year. Last month, Southern Trains began rolling out Wi-Fi access in its commuter trains on its London-Brighton service, in partnership with technology provider Nomad and WISP T-Mobile. Broadreach Networks is equipping Virgin Trains with on-board Wi-Fi, as well as station hotspots for Virgin, Eurostar and Network Rail, which owns the UK's major metropolitan stations. TCO GNER is working with technology supplier Icomera to install Wi-Fi to the inter-city trains it runs out of London's Kings Cross. ® Related stories T-Mobile steams in with WiMAX, Wi-Fi train BT, UK Wi-Fi network enter roaming pact UK Wi-Fi hotspot users offered free Skype calls T-Mobile launches WiMax net access for UK trains Eurostar brings Wi-Fi to termini Sweden's rail stations to roll out Wi-Fi
MailFrontier - the US email filtering software and appliance firm - opened its first European offices in London and Brussels on Monday. Industry veteran Vanessa Wade has been appointed as general manager for MailFrontier's EMEA operations. The US firm already has 45 customers in Europe, including SAP, Kingspan Group and Turbomach. By opening up offices in Europe it hopes to cement its position in the UK, France and Germany and support its channel partners including TCL Limited in the UK, Ampeg in Germany and Inge-Com in France. With more than 1,100 enterprise customers around the world, MailFrontier is looking to grow its anti-spam and anti-virus filtering business this side of the pond. It faces a lot of competition in what is becoming an increasingly mature market. Organisations facing the mounting nuisance of spam have a choice between software package, specialist hardware or a managed email filtering service. Up to a year ago vendors could pick up new business with firms who'd yet to deploy any filtering technology. This has become the exception rather than the norm, so firms are looking to to broaden their appeal. MessageLabs, a spin off from business-focused ISP Star Internet, dominates the market in Europe for managed filtering services and has made some inroads in the US against Postini and Frontbridge. MessageLabs is also looking to diversify its business with the launch of a managed encryption service back in March. The MessageLabs Boundary Encryption service provides a means for customers to communicate with designated partners using SMTP over Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption, without the need for desktop encryption tools. BlackSpider, MessageLabs' chief competitor in Europe, launched a similar service last month. While email filtering firms are looking to expand their portfolio with secure email services, content security specialist Clearswift is hoping to widen its appeal with the planed summer 2005 launch of appliance products to complement its software and (much smaller) managed services business. ® Related stories Managed email filtering market hots up Papal succession fuels April religious spam blitz Microsoft bolsters email security with Sybari acquisition Confusion reigns after FTC spam summit Phishermen net bumper catch of Americans
Local authorities in the UK are embracing Linux and other Open Source operating systems and applications, a probe by the Society of IT Managers has shown. Open Source is being used for infrastructure in 39 per cent of organisations while 34 per cent of organisations are using open source applications. 48 out of 99 organisations are not using Open Source products. Even worse for Microsoft and other proprietary vendors is that 60 per cent of respondents thought their organisation would increase the OS systems they use. One per cent of respondents expect to use less Open Source software. Despite the hype over open source desktop software, though, only eight per cent of those surveyed are using OS on desktops. But of the 51 organisations using some OS software 76 per cent expect their use of such software to increase in the next three years. Advantages of Open Source software included: cost, less vendor lock-in, fewer security issues and more flexibility. Disadvantages of OS noted by respondents included: support, skills and training, integration and compatibility and hidden costs. The Society of IT Managers talked to 99 organisations - 41 District councils, 12 County councils, 16 Unitary councils, 13 London Boroughs and 17 other public bodies such as police or housing. ® Related stories Questar courts bloody-nosed Linux wannabes New top dog for MS Europe's public sector The government open source dynamic Dutch govt Microsoft desktop deal riles MPs
Vonage - the broadband telephony outfit - is to ramp up its services in the US, Canada and the UK after securing an extra $200m (£106m) in funding to pump into its business. Bain Capital joined New Enterprise Associates (NEA), 3i, Meritech Capital Partners and Institutional Venture Partners, among others, to raise the cash bringing the total investment into the company to $408m (£217m). As well as helping Vonage to expand its service in existing markets, it will also look to break into new territories. The cash will also be used to fund the development of even whizzier broadband services. Said Vonage boss Jeffrey Citron: "This latest round of funding will help Vonage further cement its position as the leading broadband telephony provider in North America, with further expansion and penetration into global markets." Vonage currently supports 600,000 VoIP lines and is adding a further 15,000 new lines a week. Elsewhere, Danish telecoms outfit - TDC - has coughed up DKK242m (£22m) to acquire Swedish IP outfit Dotcom Solutions. Dotcom provides LAN infrastructure to companies and TDC reckons that by bagging this outfit it too can strengthen its position as a provider of IP solutions. ® Related stories Vonage expands UK service Easymobile denies it's a 'flop' TDC target for take-over - report Who should buy Colt? Vonage bows to 911 pressure
NASA researchers want to send a solar-powered, flying explorer to Venus. The plane would stay high in the Venusian atmosphere - out of the acidic clouds, crushing pressures and surface temperatures hot enough to melt lead. From its vantage point, it would be able to take far better radar measurements than an orbiting craft, and could also visit different altitudes, and provide insight into the dynamics of Venus' atmosphere. The researchers say it would also carry a computer to control a specially toughened, "dumb rover" on the planet's surface. The research team, based at NASA's Glenn Research Centre, says that it can get basic electrical systems to work on Venus' surface, but that delicate things, such as computers, will not work in temperatures that soar to 450°C. They propose stripping all the complexity out of any rover destined for Venus's surface, and keeping the brain in its flying companion. "With no vulnerable on-board computer, we might then be able to duplicate the Spirit and Opportunity missions," Lead researcher Geoffrey Landis told New Scientist. If the plane cruised between the cloud base and the cloud tops, it would only have to deal with temperatures of 100°C. Landis is especially interested in a fast-moving band of cloud that actually spins faster than the planet itself. Venus does have a very slow rotation: one day/night period takes 117 Earth days, but the cloud whizzes round in just four, and scientists so far have no explanation for it. Space scientists at the European Space Agency have welcomed the plans, even though it is far from certain that NASA will approve and fund the plans. ESA is planning a Venus Express orbiter mission, a replica of the Mars Express mission that has gathered so much interesting data. But although orbital data is good, in-situ measurements are always preferable. ® Related stories Mercury mission blasts into solar orbit Tropical storm delays Mercury mission Scientist seeks alien cloud-dwelling bug
Sun Microsystems has proved its love for small software companies once again by buying all of storage code maker Procom's intellectual property rights for $50m. Last year, Sun and Procom signed a multiyear software licensing deal. Sun bought the rights to use Procom's NetForce operating system on its line of Sun StorEdge 5000 network attached storage (NAS) appliances. It appears that Sun was quite enamored with the technology and wanted to capture Procom's technology for the long haul. "Sun's NAS offerings serve as the central building blocks of some of our most compelling solutions, including the Sun StorEdge 5310 Compliance Archiving System which helps customers comply with government regulations and data integrity requirements," said Mark Canepa, executive vice president of network storage at Sun. "Bolstering our NAS portfolio with the acquisition of Procom's technology reflects our ongoing commitment to the storage market." Procom has been around since 1987 as a player in the storage appliance and NAS markets. The company counts Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Brocade as some of its key partners. It also lists the likes of Coca Cola, DuPont, Eastman Kodak and Pfizer as customers. Sun expects the acquisition to close by June if standard regulatory and shareholder approvals are met. Sun will take on the Procom employees that deal with NAS products. Procom currently employs close to 50 people but would not say how many of these work on NAS products. Procom's board is meeting to discuss how best to move forward with the company's other storage assets. "This deal is a natural extension of our existing software licensing agreement with the company," said a Sun spokeswoman. "By acquiring the NAS IP assets and NAS specialists from Procom, Sun can accelerate time-to-market for next generation products. In addition to the IP, Sun intends to acquire talented employees including NAS-savvy engineers, salespeople, and support engineers to the Sun team." Over the past few years, Sun has bought a wide range of software startups from server management firms such as Terraspring to identity management software makers like Waveset. The server giant doesn't have the best of track records with turning acquired product into revenue producing code. Sun's storage unit will be under a great deal of pressure to make the most of this $50m investment. The group has been one of the worst performing units at Sun and has failed to gain market share from rivals such as EMC and IBM despite incredible efforts to do so. ® Related stories IBM to fix bad quarter by axing 13,000 jobs Inside Sun Labs - the best and the 'bots Brocade blames March for Q2 shocker Hungry Sun customers must wait to feast on 'product hog heaven' EMC delivers again with strong Q1
In the ultra-competitive server market, vendors often turn to propaganda as a tool for helping customers "make the right hardware choice." This public propaganda, however, is rather innocuous when compared to internal competitive putdowns. Case in point - a confidential IBM server presentation obtained by The Register. The presentation lays out a rallying cry for IBM employees around the company's new Hurricane chipset designed to power Xeon servers. IBM explains why this chipset, which cost it millions upon millions to produce, will make Big Blue's servers unique and far superior to kit from HP, Dell, Sun Microsystems and Unisys. So how exactly are IBM employees meant to see the competition now that Hurricane is on the market? In the presentation, IBM begins by describing HP as "64-bit Clueless" - a jab at HP's Itanium product line and refusal to make its own chipsets for the x86-64-bit Xeon processor. It's then said that Dell will do "Anything for a dollar" that Unisys's "Days are numbered!" and that S-U-N is the answer to the question "How do you spell desperate?" To really rub it in, IBM later in the presentation says that HP "Bet on the Wrong Horse," that Dell is "Struggling in the High-end" and that Unisys is "Lost in the weeds." For Sun, IBM jokes, "What if we give away Solaris? Answer: So what?" Such bravado seems reserved for IBM's xSeries line of Xeon-based servers. Most of IBM's non-RISC or mainframe server research and development budget goes toward these boxes, leaving much less cash for Itanium and Opteron servers. IBM is hoping that its Hurricane chipset for these Xeon boxes will help it continue to gain share against the likes of HP and Sun on midrange kit. The first server to go on the market using the Hurricane chipset is the four-processor x366. IBM has been much more vocal about this box than its new Opteron blade server. Big Blue has yet to say a single word about the system to reporters even though it has been on sale since last week. It seems Intel still wears the marketing pants in Armonk. That is unless there's Dell bashing going on. IBM reckons that when Dell is asked about really large systems it will "introduce customers to a line of HDTVs." ® Related stories Tyan debuts dual-core Opteron server mobo Bashful IBM takes orders for Opteron blade server Intel feels healthy and dual-core happy Supermicro abandons Intel-only stance, embraces Opteron IBM spooks market with dismal Q1
Arianna Huffington's blog has gone live and it's funnier than anyone could have imagined. What was billed as a mecca of famous, liberal commentators has turned out to be a satire site in the tradition of The Onion. Yep, Arianna has done it again and fooled us all. Kudos. At first glance, The Huffington Post has the look and feel of an average but at least real web site, if you ignore the site's name. It has supposed entries from the likes of Walter Cronkite and John Cusack. But the dead giveaway that this is a spoof after all comes from the blog entry titled "Steve Jobs, Let my Music Go." Hilary Rosen - the former head of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) - claims to be the author of this post. In the entry, she begs and pleads with Apple's CEO to open the iPod to digital rights management schemes from other vendors - namely Microsoft. "(K)eeping the iTunes system a proprietary technology to prevent anyone from using multiple (read Microsoft) music systems is the most anti-consumer and user unfriendly thing any god can do," the faux Rosen writes. "Is this the same Jobs that railed for years about the Microsoft monopoly? Is taking a page out of their playbook the only way to have a successful business? If he isn’t careful Bill Gates might just Betamax him while the crowds cheer him on. Come on Steve – open it up." It's a little sad that this entry is so obviously fake because Huffington Post would otherwise have fooled a lot of people. Rosen, you'll remember, is actually the person that kicked off the RIAA's strategy of suing file-trading music lovers into submission. After more than 10,000 lawsuits, the RIAA and its member music labels are seen as some of the least consumer-friendly organizations on the planet. Not only do they hunt down 12-year-olds and grandmothers, but they've worked to lock music away behind DRM (digital rights management) chains and done everything they can to slow the adoption of music online. So, it would really be something to see a former RIAA chief publicly protest about Apple trying to thwart consumer freedom. (Apple is restrictive about music use with iTunes and is taking a pretty anti-consumer stance on the matter, but, come on, the iPod plays MP3s. We wouldn't need anything more than that if the RIAA wasn't trying to shove DRM down our throats. Having Rosen, even a fake one, write about restrictive, unfriendly anything is like Stalin whinging about a lack of good literature in the Soviet libraries. Speaking of which, be sure to enter our "Biting the Pigopolists" contest before it's too late. ) Should you have any doubt that this grand whine is a fake, we leave you with this part of the entry. "I know Steve Jobs is a god . . . He is as laconically casually cool as Bono and makes really good cartoon movies too." Now that's comedy. ® Related stories Apple founder Jobs joins IKEA End the tyranny of bomb-happy RIAA RIAA attacking our culture, the American Mind DRMing up support for Steve's music shop Sugared water Apple censors Miles Davis Steve Jobs blesses DRM, and nothing happens RIAA's Rosen writing Iraq copyright laws
PGP Corporation has launched a radical overhaul of its PGP desktop security suite aimed at making its products more comprehensive and easier to use. PGP Desktop 9.0, released Monday 9 May, features "automatic operation so email, instant messaging (IM), whole disk, and file encryption are secure without user interaction or training", the blurb boasts. PGP Whole Disk encryption means an entire laptop, including USB drives and backups, can be secured at one fell swoop against previous approaches where users have used the software to set up a virtual, encrypted disk on their PC. Existing product features - such as PGP Virtual Disk encryption, PGP Zip (file compression), and PGP Shred (permanent file deletion) - have been retained. The consumer and home office edition of the release - PGP Desktop Home 9.0 - ships without PGP Whole Disk encryption and costs $69 for a perpetual licence up until December. PGP Desktop Professional 9.0 - pitched at the corporate market for ad-hoc desktop deployments - costs from $199 per device and comes with PGP Whole Disk encryption. Mind you that's a mixed blessing because users have to be running Windows XP to take advantage of the feature. Mac OS X users need not apply. With corporate encryption technology in mind, PGP has released a variety of product bundles combining PGP Desktop 9.0 with its policy management companion, PGP Universal 2.0, which also gets a fresh lick of paint. Improved centralised policy management features in PGP Universal 2.0 provide automatic key and policy synchronisation, among other things. Pricing and feature options are available for PGP's web site here and summary in the press release here. ® Related stories PGP makes email encryption easier PGP to integrate anti-virus defences Hushmail hit by DNS attack
Vancouver, CANADA - Microsoft revealed on Thursday (5 May) some details of the company's struggle to develop Service Pack 2, the massive security update released last August to harden Windows XP. Among the revelations: The software giant made more than 400 significant changes to the way Windows XP operates in the name of security and eliminated two entire classes of flaws in the operating system, according to Window Snyder, security strategist for Microsoft, who discussed the details during a presentation at the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver. The lesson for business users and consumers is to "upgrade, if you haven't already," she told attendees at the conference. "We can say forever that Windows XP is more secure and we are putting a lot of work into it, but if you don't have any context into what we are doing, I know it is tough to believe that." Microsoft released Windows XP Service Pack 2, frequently referred to as SP2, in August after pledging to improve the security of its flagship desktop operating system as part of the company's Trustworthy Computing Initiative. The initiative and the development of both SP2 and Windows 2003 led to many changes in the software giant's process and culture, Snyder said. For example, the company has put security ahead of product schedules, she said. During SP2 development, as the company neared its original release date, an outside security firm doing code analysis found a slew of flaws belonging to a class of vulnerabilities known as integer overflows. When Microsoft started reviewing other parts of the code, the company found that the flawed components were not isolated cases. "We started seeing them (integer overflows) in a lot of different places ... we realized we weren't looking for them the same way we were looking for other things," Snyder said. The company decided that fixing the problems was more important than keeping the original product schedule, she added. "We slipped six weeks just for this ... but it was the right thing to do." Snyder, who said her first name is an ode to California culture and not to her current employer, described other changes made to further harden Windows XP. In all, the software giant changed or removed 428 software features in the operating system to reduce potential vulnerability, she said. Of those design change requests -- referred to internally as DSRs -- 51 were in Internet Explorer and 107 were in the networking functions of Windows XP. Moreover, the company found and fixed two classes of vulnerabilities that have not been discovered elsewhere, she said. "These are entire classes of vulnerabilities that I haven't seen externally," Snyder said. "When they found these, (the developers) went on a mission, found them in all parts of the system, and got rid of them." Snyder remained mum on the details, however, even giving the families of vulnerabilities fake code names: "Ginger" and "Photon." However, the decisions made by Microsoft in pursuit of a safer operating system had some attendees up in arms. Several attendees took Microsoft to task for its removal of a versatile networking feature known as raw sockets in the latest round of patches to Windows XP. Operating systems that support raw sockets, as Windows XP did until the latest update, allow applications to access communications hardware directly. While the feature can be used for communications analysis and filtering, it can also be used by malicious programs to generate fake network data. One attendee criticized the move away from raw sockets as sacrificing legitimate security firms' needs in order to secure less knowledgeable users. "We are a security company, a lot of people here sell security software - if it's going to work under Microsoft a lot of that stuff needs raw sockets," said Chad Loder, principal engineer for software security company Rapid7. "What happened with us is that it broke our customers' applications." Microsoft currently tells companies that need raw sockets support to move their applications to Windows 2003, but will not promise that raw sockets will be available in that version of the operating system much longer. "People are either going to use Windows 2000 or, as we are considering doing, move over to Linux," Loder said. Microsoft's Snyder said the company was in the midst of an internal debate over whether and how to continue support for raw sockets. "There is a lot - a lot - a debate going on regarding raw sockets," she said. "I can't say what the resolution is going to be in the future, however." Weighing the impact of such changes is the hardest job for the product teams at Microsoft, Snyder said. A lot of legacy code still remains in Windows XP because the company cannot risk breaking customers' applications, she explained. However, the company aims to mitigate the risk of the older code by either continuing to rewrite it, or to only install the code when the user requests the installation. "Every time we rip a feature out because it is old and we don't think no one is using it, our customers scream that we are using it," she said. "And over the life time of Windows, that adds up to a significant code base." Copyright © 2005, Related stories Eight patches lined up for MS April patch batch In praise of Windows 2003 SP1 Three quarters of corporate PCs shun SP2 MS and security: good effort but no cigar Gates: security concerns propel IE7 launch MS downplays SP2 vuln risk
Veritas expects US regulators to hit it with a $30m charge to settle up a long-term investigation into the company's accounting practices. Veritas has been upfront about the US Securities and Exchange Commission's look at its books. The software maker has admitted to a series of accounting mistakes and controversial practices and has restated financial results from the fiscal years 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Earlier this year, Veritas was forced to delay the filing of a year-end report with the SEC as it struggled to meet the new Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. In a filing today with the SEC, Veritas said the following, "(The company) is in discussions with the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the Commission's review of the Company's accounting for certain transactions in 2000 with AOL Time Warner and other parties, and certain accounting matters applicable to the Company's 2001 through 2003 financial statements . . . Based on recent communications with the staff of the SEC, as of the date of this current report, the Company expects these discussions to result in a settlement in which the Company will be enjoined from future violations of certain provisions of the securities laws and required to pay a penalty of approximately $30 million." That $30m charge will be tacked on to Veritas's first quarter results, which were reported last week. There's no lack of irony in Veritas's accounting troubles. For one, the company's name means "truth" in Latin - a fact that was highlighted by reporters a couple of years back when Veritas's CFO was fired for faking information on his resume. Secondly, Veritas sells a line of software meant to help companies meet regulatory requirements. The company is currently being acquired by Symantec and doesn't expect the SEC matters to affect this deal. ® Related stories Veritas gets unusual services boost in Q1 Can compliance-challenged Veritas sell compliance? Deficient Veritas delays year-end fiscal report Symantec buys Veritas for $13.5bn stock Veritas lowers Q2 forecast. Investors lower Veritas Veritas cleans up financials Veritas to restate results after probe