Ingram Micro is expanding its worldwide agreement with AMD. The two firms will work to widen AMD’s footprint and work to generate demand in Europe, the Americas and “select areas within Asia Pacific”. Sven Hollemann, director of components for Ingram Micro Europe, said: "Previously we could only sell AMD processors in central Europe - Austria, Germany and Switzerland. We will now sell processors across Europe." He said this was an extension of Ingram's one-stop-shop strategy. Ingram already sells other AMD products, but not the processors, Hollemann said this would help the distributor get business off to a fast start: "Overall the server CPU business is growing and AMD has a very positive standing in that market." Read the press release here.® Related stories AMD steals Q1 market share from Intel AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ dual-core CPU AMD desktops 'to go Socket M2 H2 2006'
O2 is creating 1,500 new call centre jobs in Scotland as part of plans to be more cuddly towards its customers. A new call centre opens in Glasgow's Skypark business complex at Finnieston in the autumn. Over the next two years the cellco is pumping £18m into the centre, backed by £7m in "Regional Selective Assistance". The Glasgow site will be O2's fourth major customer service centre in the UK with the others based in Leeds, Bury and Warrington. Details of O2's investment in cuddling up to punters were revealed in March when it announced plans to axe 500 back office staff tied up with managerial and admin tasks and replacing them with 2,000 workers dealing directly with punters. The new staff are expected to provide and "enhanced customer experience and strengthen customer loyalty". You have been warned. ® Related stories O2 to axe 500 jobs... CWU 'shocked and dismayed' at O2 job losses 200 IT workers face O2 axe O2 goes down the pan O2 and EasyAir avoid High Court spat O2 gets protective over 'bubbles'
Telewest's internet punters appear to be unaffected by Telewest's recent naming and shaming by anti-spam organisation SPEW. More than 900,000 Telewest email addresses have been blacklisted by the Spam Prevention Early Warning System (SPEWS) reports the BBC. Although Telewest admits there's a problem, it claims that its internet users are not having their emails blocked. Asked what impact the blacklist was having, a spokesman for Telewest told us: "To the best of our knowledge, emails are not being blocked and customers are not complaining about having their emails blocked due to this blacklisting." Telewest says it's been hit badly recently by a "spate of worm outbreaks [and is] aware of the recent increase in email volumes, due to customers' PCs which have been infected by worms and viruses". In a statement the cableco said: "We are contacting affected customers to help them clean their PCs which, as you can imagine, is a time consuming task. "In addition, our security action group has been working on more permanent solutions. This includes a new package of PC protection software that we'll be making available to our blueyonder customers later this year, supported by further network-based security measures." Is that before or after the merger with NTL? ® Related stories NTL - Telewest 'preps merger' Police chief withstands spam blitz SANS revises Top 20 security vulns list Papal succession fuels April religious spam blitz Bagle variants served up with spam My car has a virus (and other security threats) VXers hit new low with tsunami-themed worm MyDoom returns VXers creating 150 zombie programs a week
JBoss hopes to rally competitors to IBM around its open source middleware stack following IBM's purchase of application server start-up Gluecode. Bob Bickel, JBoss vice president of corporate strategy and development, told The Register his company already has deals in place with systems integrators that will be announced early next month. But he hopes IBM's Gluecode deal - announced Tuesday - could lead to further partnerships. Bickel said: "We have big SIs that are more committed [to JBoss] than ever before. We may end up collaborating with the people who don't want to deal with IBM." Deals with SIs follow partnerships with Hewlett Packard, Novell and SGI to support the company's open source application server. Bickel added IBM's entry into open source application servers would help expand JBoss' customer and partner base because it "validates" the open source middleware concept. He was speaking in the wake of IBM's Gluecode purchase - a move that will increase the competitive pressure on JBoss. IBM will use Gluecode as a low-end, low-cost, entry point to the WebSphere Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application server family with plans to also provide subscription and support services. In a further competitive twist, IBM plans to become an active contributor to the Apache Software Foundation's Geronimo open source project - Geronimo forms the kernel of the Gluecode Standard Edition application server. IBM also plans to contribute software to the open source community so Eclipse-based tools can be used to develop, debug and deploy Geronimo-based software. IBM's move has a touch of deja-vu about it. By turning its attention to a clearly identifiable opponent, JBoss, IBM is following the same course of action it took against BEA Systems in application servers. BEA is now regarded as the industry's number-two application server in terms of market share behind IBM, according to analyst Gartner, following an aggressive sales, marketing and services campaign by IBM. Bickel predicted JBoss has "clear sailing" in the immediate future, because Gluecode requires some development. He noted, though: "This is clearly IBM moving into the turf that JBoss defined... we have to make sure we have a good offering and keep customers happy."® Related stories JBoss moves up to business processes Busy month for JBoss IBM launches Websphere 6
Free of corporate PR controls, Carly Fiorina has called on graduate job seekers to beware of institutionalized racism and sexism in her first speaking gig since losing the top job at Hewlett Packard Co. Speaking in North Carolina, HP's recently departed chief executive officer has - according to reports - urged graduates to live up to their potential and overcome cultural stereotypes. It's a message Fiorina has based on her own experience working in the male-dominated environments of AT&T sales during the 1970s and Silicon Valley during the last decade as HP's CEO. Fiorina drew on one of her encounters at AT&T where she was described by one early boss as their "token bimbo" and dealings with certain high tech CEOs - no names mentioned - that left her feeling like the "token bimbo" years later. Despite this, Fiorina - importantly - has no regrets for the decisions she has taken, which ultimately led to her demise. Quite the contrary, in fact, as Fiorina says she's "proud" and "at peace" despite losing her job "in the most public way possible."® Related stories Fiorina ready to discuss 'most successful hi-tech merger in history' Why Fiorina wasn't the right man for the HP CEO post Carly's landing cushioned by 45m dollar bills Carly Fiorina quits
Microsoft has launched the latest edition of Windows for mobile devices, with improvements to attract service providers eager to customize devices. Windows Mobile 5.0 features tools for "push-to-talk" and video conferencing, support for 3G and WiFi, and improvements in soft-key operation and landscape display orientation. Applications can be build for Windows Mobile 5.0 using Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2. Announcing the operating system's release to manufacturing, Microsoft claimed 40 manufacturers are shpping 68 devices that run Windows Mobile.® Related stories MontaVista Linux phones heading for US and Europe Microsoft's Metro takes on Adobe Orange and Microsoft push data at business
Astronomers working on the Swift mission have photographed a gamma ray burst they think is likely to be the formation of a new black hole, 2.2bn light-years away. There was a flash of X-Rays just moments after the burst, which itself was very short-lived, followed by an optical afterglow. Astronomers think the explosion was caused by the merging of two neutron stars. The Swift satellite is in orbit to investigate gamma-ray-bursts, the most violent, and mysterious explosions in the universe. It has been designed to respond rapidly to detection of gamma rays - within 20-70 seconds. This turn of speed is vital as the whole explosion can be over in seconds. The satellite detected the gamma rays shortly after midnight, east coast time, on Monday this week, Space.com reports. Swift swung the rest of its sensors to face the explosion within 50 seconds, and just caught an X-Ray afterglow. Astronomers at larger, earth based observatories then went looking for the after-glow of the explosion in visible light. This sequence, a short lived gamma ray burst followed by a short-lived X-ray burst and optical afterglow ,is the theoretical trademark of a merger of two neutron stars. But until now, the equipment available to researchers was not responsive enough or sensitive enough to do anything but detect the initial burst. In this case, two neutron stars would have approached each other very gradually. "A fraction of a second before contact, the lower mass neutron star is disrupted and forms a neutrino driven accretion disk around the higher mass neutron star," Steinn Sigurdsson, a Penn State University researcher, told Space.com. "It implodes under the weight and forms a maximally spinning low-mass black hole." At some point after its formation, the black hole emits a flare of superheated gases, travelling at relativistic speeds. This is when the gamma ray burst is created. ® Related stories Astronomers spy hot spots on neutron stars Swift observatory sends back stunning test shot Swift blasts off on dying star mission
Michael Dell is investing $100m of his own cash in Linux distributor Red Hat. The investment is a private investment rather than a strategic corporate move by Dell. Dell is investing $99.5m in Red Hat through his personal investment firm MSD Capital LP. MSD invests on behalf of the Dell family in public and private equity and in real estate. The investment sounds like a ringing endorsement, but MSD Capital looks after about $10bn for Dell and his family, so a $100m investment is not going to break the bank. Dell’s personal wealth is estimated by Forbes at $16bn. The Triangle Business Journal, which broke the story, was told MSD did not comment on investments. But the firm noted that it employs 70 people, so the Red Hat decision may not have been made by Dell himself. Dell Computer was an early investor in Red Hat and one of the first big brand server makers to offer the software on its machines. In more good news for Red Hat IBM today announced it is extending its relationship with the company. IBM will make it easier for customers who want to run Red Hat on IBM eServer zSeries mainframe machines. More info here.® Related stories Red Hat Q4 sales soar Red Hat Enterprise Linux v.4 hits the streets Red Hat Q3's 'validate' Linux subscriptions
Apple has settled its other music-centric lawsuit, with Eminem. The two parties have reached an out-of-court settlement, it emerged this week. Apple will pay the rapper's recording company, Eight Mile Style, an undisclosed sum, lawyers said yesterday. The settlement was described as "amicable". EMS sued Apple in February 2004, claiming the Mac maker had used one of his songs in an iPod advertisement without his permission. EMS also sued Apple's ad agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day; MTV, the channel on which the ad appeared; and MTV's parent company, Viacom. The song in question, "Lose Yourself", was rapped out by a ten-year-old in an iTunes Music Store commercial shown on MTV in the summer of 2003. "Eminem has never nationally endorsed any commercial products and... even if he were interested in endorsing a product, any endorsement deal would require a significant amount of money, possibly in excess of $10m," the lawsuit said at the time. It maintained Apple's agents had tried to seek permission for the song, but had been rebuffed. The complaint also claimed Apple CEO Steve Jobs had personally approached EMS chief Joel Martin with a request to drop the action. Apple will presumably be seeking a similarly "amicable" settlement wit Apple Corp., the Beatles' recording company, which sued the Mac maker in 2003, alleging trademark infringement and breach of contract. ® Related stories Apple iTunes sales sail past 400m Apple updates iTunes Apple vs Apple trial date set PC dealer sues Apple over Tiger Eminem sues Apple Beatles' label sues Apple again
Dixons has been hit by weaker consumer spending and warned of tough times ahead, the high street electrical retailer said today. In the six months to the end of April like-for-like sales in the UK - with stores including Currys, Dixons, PC World and The Link - fell two per cent. Demand for gear such as flat screen TVs helped increase sales at Currys and Dixons, but this growth was undermined by a slide in sales at PC World (by eight per cent) and The Link (by nine per cent) over the same period. PC World was hit by a fall in PC prices while The Link was hammered by lower levels of contract sales and price reductions on pre pay mobile services. "Total UK sales were up three per cent reflecting a weaker consumer environment in the second half of the financial year," the retailer said in a statement. Total group sales for the year to the end of August were up 8 per cent, with like-for-like sales up 2 per cent. While the Dixons' business in the UK is struggling to cope in the tough conditions, its international operations are doing well reporting a 24 per cent spurt in growth. The bright spot highlights recent moves by Dixons to invest overseas in search of new markets. Last month, for instance, it unveiled ambitious plans to expand its electrical retail operation on the Continent including Russia and Ukraine. Said chief exec John Clare: "When we updated the market in November and January we cautioned that we were seeing a slowdown in consumer expenditure. Against this challenging backdrop, I am pleased that the group has been able to deliver another year of progress. We expect that our full year results will be in line with current expectations. "We are cautious about the prospects for our markets over the next twelve months. Price deflation continues to be a factor, which, combined with cost inflation and a cautious UK consumer, means that the environment will be very challenging. Whilst we will always trade competitively in our markets our priorities remain a focus on gross margins and reducing our costs." Industry figures published yesterday revealed that demand for digital cameras bombed during this spring with high street retailer Jessops also warning of tough times ahead. ® Related stories Jessops hit as digital camera sales bomb Digital camera sales slow Dixons embarks on mega Euro expansion PC World found guilty of selling old computers as new Dixons looks to Russian Eldorado for growth Dixons mulls The Link sell-off
Yahoo! today opens the virtual doors of Yahoo! Music Unlimited (YMU). And it has immediately issued a challenge to rival music download subscription services to lower their prices in response to its own bargain-basement "introductory" tariffs. The US-only service is backed by MusicNet, the online music distributor formerly owned by a consortium of major labels, but now held by US VC firm Baker Capital. MusicNet also supplies music to AOL's download service, but Yahoo! appears to be unconcerned that its partner is also working with one of its closest rivals. It is more interested in MusicNet's catalogue of more than 1m songs from all the major labels and some 25,000 indies. YMU's songs are encoded in Windows Media Audio 10, at 192Kbps. MusicNet claims to hold the largest catalogue of digital music, most recently touting the 1.3m songs available via its servers. Apple this week said its US iTunes Music Store was offering 1.5m songs. The company will deliver songs to YMU under both unlimited-download subscription and a la carte download licences. YMU will offer the customary 30s song previews. However, it's remarkably cheap as these things go: an introductory annual subscription costs $60, while a monthly package costs $7. The subscriptions include transfers to portable MP3 players, which is a major blow to Napster and RealNetworks' Rhapsody, which charge $15 a month. It's not clear at this stage how long Yahoo!'s introductory pricing scheme will last, but in the price-sensitive world of digital music, even a short period may be enough to reel in a whole host of consumers who might otherwise turn to Napster. Yahoo! sources told The Register the pricing is likely to stay where it is. One-off download prices are standard: 99 cents per track, though YMU subscribers will get them for 79 cents. Downloads can be burned to CD and used on up to five PCs. YMU is less of a threat to Apple's iTunes Music Store than it is to Napster and co., largely because of ITMS' strength in the Mac market - YMU is Windows-only - and Apple's iPod traction. That's not to say that Apple should ignore YMU - Yahoo!'s brand recognition counts for a lot, and it has access to millions of individuals who use its other services. But it's really rival Windows-based subscription service providers who have to worry, particularly given YMU's pricing, if it can be sustained. Yahoo! is calling YMU a "beta" release, presumably while it works on integrating the service into Musicmatch, which it acquired in September 2004 for $160m. From today, Musicmatch subscription package prices will fall to match those of YMU. Eventually, Musicmatch Jukebox and YME will become one app. The service is accessed through Yahoo! Music Engine jukebox software, available as a free download. It cunningly ties in with Yahoo! Messenger to allow subscribers to share songs with each other. And presumably Yahoo! will be using its IM utility to promote YMU to the millions of Messenger users out there. Many of them aren't based in the US of course, and while Yahoo! said it had no overseas launches to announce, or potential launch dates, it's clear that it wants to expand to Europe and beyond. MusicNet's established presence in the UK will smooth the path toward European incarnations of YMU. ® Related stories Apple iTunes sales sail past 400m Former RIAA chief goes after Apple's 'anti-consumer' CEO CD Wow! enters download biz Major labels sell off MusicNet HMV swaps digital music partners Yahoo! snaps up Musicmatch
Sybase has bought two firms to help it expand beyond its straight database business. No financial terms disclosed but Sybase has bought Avaki and London-based ISDD. Avaki is a data integration firm - it makes it easier for applications to get information from various sources. ISDD is a London company which offers a Bayesian search product similar to Autonomy. It searches based on “conceptual understanding” not just keywords. The software was originally created as a bespoke solution for the Rail Safety Board after the Ladbroke Grove train crash. It can search structured and unstructured information. Sybase will include these functions in its core products to help differentiate it from competitors. Analysts have welcomed the move as good news for Sybase as it attempts to move away from an increasingly commoditised server market. Press release here. Comment from Ovum here.® Related stories Sybase invokes licence gag in flaw disclosure row Sybase partners with IBM Sybase's ASE expands
A BT engineer has blamed squirrels for gnawing through phone cables cutting off a Berkshire couple. John and Christina Gaff from Finchampstead told Get Wokingham that they have been without a phone service for eight weeks. When a BT engineer finally came round to sort out the problem he told them squirrels had nibbled through their line. It seems that squirrels like the taste of BT's cables. However, a spokeswoman for BT told the paper that there was "no indication that squirrels were to blame". Hmmm, so which is it? The Gaffs - and El Reg's - readers need to know. ® Related stories 900 BT biz punters snagged by BT 'system problem' Glasgow vandals cut 5,000 phone lines Oops! BT bills man £25,000 for cut cable
Cisco Systems yesterday reported an unspectacular but healthy rise in sales and profits helped by strong sales in Europe, particularly to service providers. For the period ended April 30, 2005, Cisco reported sales of $6.19bn, compared with $5.6bn for Q3 2004, an increase of 10.1 per cent. Net income for Q3 2005 pegged out at $1.41bn, 16 per cent up on $1.21bn in the same quarter last year. Cisco just shaded past analyst predictions of sales of $6.16bn for Q3 2005. During Q3 2005, the networking equipment giant completed the acquisitions of wireless LAN switch start-up Airespace and security monitoring and threat management firm Protego Networks. It also introduced a new series of high performance routers, the Cisco XR 12000 Series, and beefed up its security portfolio with intrusion prevention, application firewall, SSL VPN, and endpoint security software enhancements. Cisco forecasts Q4 2005 revenues at $6.44bn -$6.62bn, up 4-7 per cent sequentially. ® Related stories Cisco ups sales, misses estimates Nortel earnings slide 75 per cent Cisco source code theft part of 'mega-hack' Cisco tightens grip on WLAN standards Dell seen as long-term risk to Cisco
CommentComment House and Senate Republicans have rammed through the so-called Real ID Act - a legislative Trojan horse that lets the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dictate drivers' license standards to the states - by attaching it to a $76 billion military spending package for Iraq that no one in the Senate dared oppose. In addition to keeping the Iraq debacle alive, the bill increases the death benefit for US service members from a paltry $12,000 to a more reasonable $100,000, raises the maximum life insurance benefit to $400,000, and provides $100,000 for those who suffer a severe injury. So, naturally, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate Tuesday, on the strength of Republican support-the-troops blackmail. House members had approved it by 261-161 back in February as a stand-alone measure, although that was before it became the test of patriotism over which the Senate so eagerly buckled. Last week, the House passed the spending bill to which Real ID had been attached by 368-58. US Representative James Sensenbrenner (Republican, Wisconsin) hailed the bill's success, which he claimed will "assist in our war-on-terror efforts to disrupt terrorist operations and help secure our borders." It will do no such thing, of course, but it will give the federal government long-sought control over the movements of Americans, which is exactly what about half of its boosters had in mind. It will also make life more difficult for undocumented immigrants, which the remaining boosters had in mind. Within two years' time, state ID cards and driver's licenses will have to satisfy federal standards. The new cards must feature anti-counterfeiting measures and machine readable elements (i.e., RFID) approved by DHS, and anything else that DHS thinks would be useful. The language is open-ended, meaning that DHS can issue new requirements as it sees fit, whenever some new gimmick for invading the privacy of citizens captures its imagination. State motor-vehicle departments will be required to verify each driver's Social Security number and current address, and maintain their digital photographs in a huge database along with all other information that DHS wants them to collect. States that fail to link up their databases will become ineligible for federal money. Soon it will be impossible to obtain government services, travel domestically by hired car, intercity bus, train, or plane, enter a building, open a bank account, pay by check, drink at a pub, enroll in school, or obtain insurance without having your unique federal ID card scanned at the gate. The potential for mission creep, and for mass data aggregation, is absolutely unlimited. DHS can decree that photographs are not enough; it may decide that it also wants fingerprints, iris scans, and DNA information encoded in the cards, and in its massive databases. And Congress has given it the power to decree that, and more. Yet the scheme is hopelessly flawed even without the attendant mass privacy invasion. Once these cards become established, they will not be challenged because they're "technologically advanced." They've got anti-counterfeiting technology, and they're all hooked up to a massive government database. They will become the most valuable fraudulent ID documents available, and the black market supplying them will flourish in unprecedented splendor. Criminals will get them. Terrorists will get them. Illegal aliens will get them. They'll pay a lot more than they do today for identity documents, but these will be worth the expense. They'll be really convincing. The dwindling privacy of US citizens will be eroded dramatically for no real gain in security. Much money will be spent, much privacy will be lost, and states will lose a significant measure of sovereignty, for no purpose but making a collection of middle-class control freaks in Congress feel important. The whole project would be a sad waste of money and effort, if it wasn't actually harmful. But, hey, terrorism... ® Related stories Malaysia to fingerprint all new-born children HP to build EU's biometric ID, terror database Clarke calls for ID cards after imagining huge poison terror ring ID scheme, IT the key to Blunkett's new terror laws
Dell is preparing a monster 19in widescreen notebook for release next year, according to moles, cited by DigiTimes, claim the beast will be produced by Compal, which is already producing a range of widescreen notebooks for Dell. Little more is known about the enormous notebook, which is arguably unlikely to be used beyond the confines of a desk - 17in jobs are bad enough as it is - but its arrival will form part of a big shift toward 16:9 widescreen laptops and away from 4:3 ratio screens. Digitimes' sources claim all the major notebook vendors, including Apple, HP, Acer and Dell, are planning to increase the number of widescreen notebooks they offer. IBM, which apparently doesn't offer a widescreen notebook today, will do so next year, the sourcessay, adding 15.4in jobs to its ThinkPad R and G lines. Apple is believed to have signed a deal with Quanta to produce a widescreen iBook. The upshot will be a doubling of the size of the widescreen notebook market by H1 2006. Today, 30-40 per cent of notebooks sport a 16:9 screen. In a year's time, that proportion will have risen to 80-90 per cent on the back of consumer demand and falling LCD prices, in particular the premium over 4:3 ratio screens. ® Related stories Apple signs 'widescreen iBook' contract Vendors target IBM ThinkPad market share Merrill Lynch downgrades notebook makers Consumers want widescreen notebooks - analyst
HTC today formally introduced 'Universal', the palmtop-like PocketPC phone a number of European network operators have already announced, but on which the handset's vendor has kept quiet. Microsoft's announcement yesterday of Windows Mobile 5.0 - aka 'Magneto' - provided the motivation for HTC, which claimed Universal is the "world's first" WM5 handset. Universal first appeared in February, when T-Mobile announced the MDA IV in Germany. Soon after, it emerged Orange was planning to rebadge the same device. Since then, Vodafone has joined the others. It will offer Universal as the VPA IV. All three branded Universals are expected to ship this later this year, though T-Mobile revised its original summer release to an autumn debut. HTC provided no better guidance beyond saying Universal will ship in the second-half of the year. Universal builds on HTC's previous PocketPC phones by adding 3G support, along with a clamshell casing that reveales the device's QWERTY keyboard. Universal's screen can rotate and fold back to present the user with the more traditional tablet PDA form-factor. To support 3G video calls, there are twin cameras on board, and twin stereo speakers. There's quad-band GSM/GPRS in there too, along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Windows Mobile 5.0 provides software support for 3G communications. It also integrates 'push-to-talk' functionality. ® Related stories Microsoft releases Windows Mobile 5.0 Carphone Warehouse confirms Orange SPV C550 T-Mobile delays 3G Wi-Fi phone debut RIM signs IM pacts Vodafone preps 3G, Wi-Fi palmtop smart phone Orange to offer 3G, Wi-Fi palmtop smart phone T-Mobile unveils MDA IV
Toshiba yesterday introduced a higher capacity version of its HD DVD blue-laser disc format to meet the challenge posed by rival optical storage system, Blu-ray Disc (BD). The prototype holds 45GB, just shy of BD's 50GB storage capacity. But unlike BD, which requires only two 25GB data-storage layers to provide that capacity, the new HD DVD needs three 15GB layers. The three-layer disc is single-sided, but comprises a single-layer HD DVD glued onto a dual-layer disc. That means it's going to cost more. Toshiba wheeled out disc makers Cinram and Memory Tech to say how the new disc would incur only "minimal" extra production costs. The trouble is, HD DVD production lines will still need to be upgraded, so supporting the new disc will eliminate some or possibly all of the production price advantage HD DVD has over BD. And the capacity is still 5GB less. And the new disc will necessitate new players with laser read heads capable of focusing on the upper layer. This isn't rocket science - it's just an extension of what heads are already doing with dual-layer discs. But it will require work to ensure the head gets meaningful data out of the reflected light after it has been partially scattered by the two intervening layers. This will make the read heads more complicated, and so more expensive. Toshiba will also need to get these into the market quickly if it's to avoid pissing off consumers saddled with HD DVD players that can't read the new, higher capacity discs that all the latest movies are shipping on. Early adopters may not care, but mainstream buyers will. Still, the three-layer disc addresses the key concern over the HD DVD format: its ability to hold the longest-running movies - think The Lord of the Rings extended editions - in the HD TV format's highest resolution settings. Toshiba said the 45GB disc has already won the approval of the DVD Forum, the DVD standard's governing body. The Forum has also approved Toshiba's dual-mode disc, which bonds a dual-layer DVD onto the back of a dual-layer HD DVD, allowing content providers to support current- and future-generation players with the same product. Toshiba announced the dual-mode disc, since when JVC has come up with a similar dual-mode BD. ® Related stories Toshiba slams Blu-ray/ HD DVD convergence claims Sony to add Blu-ray and DSD to Vaio Sony 'open' to Blu-ray Disc/HD DVD bonding talks JVC unveils first one-side, two-layer DVD-RW disc Alliance touts holographic disc 'revolution' Studios announce HD DVD movie release lists JVC preps dual DVD/Blu-ray disc Toshiba launches HD DVD consortium
Canada’s telecoms regulator is likely to rule that Voice over Internet Protocol services should be regulated in the same way as traditional telcos. The official decision is expected later this week but anonymous sources told the Globe and Mail that the regulator will restrict prices. It fears that incumbents Bell Canada and Telus could use short-term price cutting to make life harder for new entrants. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is likely to stop incumbents offering such a loss-leading service. The CRTC controls the incumbents’ local telco prices because of their very large market share. The telcos gave evidence at hearings last year that regulation would be bad for competition. But VoIP providers warned that artificially low prices would hurt the market. More at the Globe and Mail here.® Related stories Vonage rings up $200m investment AT&T aims VoIP at business Skype scores 100 millionth customer
The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has begun work on DisplayPort, a new digital display interface, designed to enable all forms of screen technology to be easily hooked up to computers. Actually, most of the development work is nearly done, says VESA, which notes that ATI, Nvidia, Dell, HP, Molex, Samsung and others are "close to completing... a detailed proposal" for the new interface. The proposal will be submitted in Q3, and VESA will then mull it over and decide if it is to turn it into a standard. DisplayPort - if ratified - will will be offered as a successor, but not necessarily a replacement, for today's DVI specification. Any proprietary intellectual property included in the specification must be made available to all at "reasonably and non-discriminatory" rates. DisplayPort will support both internal and external monitor connections. There will an optional bolt-on digital audio specification, allowing the standard to be used in multimedia kit. TV, projectors, LCD monitors etc. will all use a new "small, user-friendly connector optimised for use on thin profile notebooks" to deliver audio and video information. VESA is light on details, but it says DisplayPort will support higher refresh rates, colour depths and resolutions than today's displays can handle. There's also a sneaky side to the specification: it will incorporate content protection, to prevent anyone diverting the digital data stream - audio, video or both - to a copying device. That said, the content protection component is optional, leaving Hollywood and the music industry, rather than VESA itself, to force its adoption. ® Related stories High Definition and the future of viewing Matsushita, LG calm plasma patent clash Intel invests in E Ink Samsung shows 82in monster TV Philips unrolls 'paper' display
The citizens of videolandia can sleep safer in their beds tonight with the news that Travis Bickle is about to make his gaming debut, courtesy of Majesco Entertainment Co. Yup, the hero of cult flick Taxi Driver will debut at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2005 in LA between 18-20 May, thereby joining Dirty Harry and 50 Cent on the virtual mean streets. Majesco marketing bod Ken Gold told Reuters: "'Taxi Driver' remains one of the most iconoclastic films of our time. Compelling and powerful, the movie ensnares viewers in the seedy urban world of New York cabbie Travis Bickle, and we hope to do likewise with our game." We're not quite sure what Gold means by "iconoclastic" here. Fans of the film may not recall many icons getting clasted between bouts of Bob De Niro unsuccessfully attempting to woo Cybill Shepherd and blowing away Harvey Keitel before making short work of an entire hotelful of pimps and punters. Which should give some clue as to what eager gamers can expect from the Travis Bickle experience. Although details are scarce, a Sony Pictures spokesman expressed confidence that Majesco will "create a game that successfully makes the transition from film to the video game world". We shall see. In the meantime, wannabe NY vigilantes are advised to get some practice in by standing in front of the mirror declaring: "You talkin' to me? Are you talkin' to me? Well I'm the only one here..." You know the rest. Carry on. ® Men like video games: official Don Corleone meets 50 Cent Clint sets Dirty Harry on spotty youths
Google has launched the Google Mini, a scaled-down version of its enterprise search appliance, to the UK. The small, blue box is designed to provide a search function for the intranets or public websites of small to medium businesses. The asking price of just under £2,000 includes a year of support, and hardware replacement coverage. An extra £700 gets you another year of support. The box is capable of searching and indexing 100,000 documents and it recognises over 220 different file types, including HTML, PDF and Word, provided they are web enabled. Once configured - a process Google says takes less than an hour - the box can be set to crawl on a regular basis, but can also be managed remotely, with full administrator access through its web-based interface. The administrator can also define areas that are not to be included in the crawl, and can monitor the most searched-for subjects. One beta tester, Orthoview, said that the box was particularly useful in helping to comply with regulatory guidelines, because searching for relevant information was now much easier. It also kept them more on top of their own intellectual property, the CEO John Chambers said. The Google Mini is available to buy online here. More on the the spec and so on can be found here. ® Related stories Google DNS glitch sparks hacking fears Europe uniting against Schmidt's Google print project Google launches search-in-a-box
Microsoft's patch Tuesday brought just one security update yesterday, a fix for a script injection vulnerability rated by Microsoft as "important". The vulnerability in the Web view component of Windows Explorer (MS05-24) affects Windows 2000, Win 98 and Me users1 but Win XP punters are off the hook. The solitary security bulletin this month compares to eight patches - five critical - in April. Then again, Microsoft has other projects on the go this month. The security elves at Redmond also dispatched two early alerts on Tuesday as part of a new pilot program, Microsoft Security Advisories. The scheme, introduced this month, is Microsoft's way of giving security advice about risks to its software that may or may not later become the subject of security patches. There's two of these alerts this month. One advises that the default setting in Windows Media Player digital rights management could allow a user to open a web page without requesting permission, a trick that has already been used by virus writers. The second advisory explains that the tar pit feature in Windows Server 2003 SP1 is an option for fighting spammers only and not a recommended function that all users ought to apply. Microsoft hopes to solicit customer feedback on its new pilot Security Advisories via a "Contact Us" feature in its dispatches. It has also launched an online survey canvassing opinions from punters about its wider security bulletin programme. ® 1 Microsoft only issues patches for unsupported product - such as Win 98 and Win Me - when they hit critical status, so users running these older OSes are on their own in dealing with this month's latest Windows security threat. Related stories Eight patches - five critical - in MS April patch batch Microsoft unveils details of software security process Microsoft fortifies monthly patches with interim advisories Trojans exploit Windows DRM loophole
The GSM Association tried a dangerous game of bluff this week in an attempt to gain concessions from the licensing authority that claims to hold the essential patents for the Digital Rights Management system favored by mobile operators everywhere.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has launched a campaign to crackdown on child porn in the workplace. It claims that many IT managers are unsure about what to do if they found illegal material on their servers and wants to raise awareness about to do. A survey of 200 IT managers found that three quarters of those quizzed would not report employees caught downloading indecent images of children to the police, while four in ten companies surveyed would not even discipline or dismiss an employee caught up to no good. However, the research reveals that this inaction is down to many IT managers either being uninformed or unaware of the correct procedure to deal with illegal images. Which explains why the IWF is backing the "Wipe it Out" campaign, designed to raise awareness amongst IT, HR, Legal & Regulatory managers about the change in legislation. Even so, the IWF remains concerned at the lack of awareness. "These results are shocking," said IWF chief exec Peter Robbins, "the workplace is where a majority of people have access to the internet. "It is essential that employees that monitor companies' networks are aware of what guidelines they should take if they come across a potentially illegal image. Further details can be found at the IWF web site here. Related stories UK police tackle mounting internet porn caseload IT industry told to 'cough up' by child campaigners IT professionals urged to swot up on new Sexual Offences rules New UK agency to target net paedophiles Spain spearheads net paedo dragnet Police push for dedicated paedo-protection unit Police launch site to tackle net pervs
This week there is news that Yahoo! has joined the hunt for the video search engine, but like all those before it, not counting Google, which we have yet to see operate, as it is only just collecting content right now, it is a bit of a fudge. On Yahoo!, the snippets of video that are indexed are all very short and all of them so far appear to be indexed, based on what the video is called or how it is described. The world is waiting for something that takes a view of raw video files and extracts a viable classification from them automatically. If you key in the word football in the new Yahoo! engine, you are just as likely to get a film of just a football sitting there, a game of football, a football player being interviewed or the logo of a football club. And “football game” brings videos of table football and video games, as much as a video of a live football game. The truth of the matter is that the reason that people have not yet brought out a video search engine is because first off it’s difficult technology, and secondly no-one is quite sure what problem it is that they are trying to solve. Are we trying to find the name of a film, the date it was made, or a piece of action that the film contains, or the work of a particular actor or the first time Technicolor was used or short films edited with a particular software tool? The answer is that a video search engine has to do all of the above, but more important than all of that is that there needs to be a business model. As long as searching the web for freely available video is what both Yahoo! and Google are doing, then it’s not anything more than a few extra hits for their existing advertising customers. But what more could it be? Well, for a start it could be a little more like a P2P network and when you ask for From Russia with Love, not give you endless trailers and films about Russia, but actually have some kind of index of key copyrighted acts and selected that old classic film. One business model is that the search engine might become a front end for online copyrighted video archives that are for sale or rent. But if they’re going to offer this, then they must offer it at a different level from the hobbyist video fun that abounds on the internet. An advanced set of dialog boxes, defaulted for the trivial and free video on the internet, but tunable so that genuine films are searched for, can be easily set up. A simple question like “Are you looking to buy some entertainment” with description boxes, would get us started here. They would also need to build a clean way of delivering the video directly to the consumer, rather that sending them back to the original web page where the video has been taken from and that would mean carrying out the transaction for film owners. The reason that Yahoo! and Google see no reason to attempt to build something this subtle is because there is so little genuine film or TV content legitimately available on the web, but that is all set to change when this summer Sony makes its top 500 films available over the web. Presumably all of these films will be encrypted and hidden behind password protection, so how would Google and Yahoo! deal with that? At the moment it is assumed that the existing models they are working on would need to index the trailers for such films that are resident on the Sony site and lead people there. The weakness of such a model is that it still leaves all of those transactions in the hands of Sony, and doesn’t allow any other content maker to piggy back on the site, and put their own content up. Faultline is absolutely certain that once a generic search engine begins to transact film sales, then it will attract a huge following overnight, but until then it remains a chicken and egg story, and a question of which comes first, the films on the internet or the internet video search engine. Yahoo! in the meantime is trying to promote the idea of video creators sending links of their content via Really Simple Syndication for inclusion in its database, which perhaps will improve its showing, while specialist video search companies such as Blinkx TV, are consigned to doing deals with tiny operations such as the one it did this week with London TV, a tourist TV service, rather than gets its teeth into genuinely desirable entertainment. Copyright © 2004, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here. Related stories Movie downloads will be a big business... but for whom? Stealing movies: Why the MPAA can afford to relax No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die
Dimension Data, the giant networking equipment reseller, tripled profit and increased turnover in the first half of the year ended 31 March 2005. In the first six months DiData brought in $1.3bn in revenues, up 15.7 per cent on the first half of last year. Net profit for the six months was $6.3m compared to $1.4m last year. Gross margin is stable at 20.9 per cent. Profits work out at 5 cents a share compared with 1 cent per share last year. Wall Street analysts were predicting earnings of between one and four cent per share. Network Integration boosted revenues by 10.6 per cent while DiData’s Solutions division increased revenues by 43.6 per cent. Solutions accounts for 28 per cent of total group revenues, up from 22 per cent last year. DiData shares on the London Stock Exchange rose 8.5 per cent and over seven per cent on the Johannesburg Exchange. The company remains confident looking forward. Brett Dawson, CEO at DiData, said: “Despite some uncertainty prevailing in the wider IT Services environment, we continue to see good demand in the market segments within which the Goup operates. As a result, the Group is confident that it will continue to deliver profitable growth.” Press release here. ® Related stories DiData buys Aussie reseller DiData back in profit DiData back in the black
Scientists from all major Dutch universities officially launched a website on Tuesday where all their research material can be accessed for free. Interested parties can get hold of a total of 47,000 digital documents from 16 institutions the Digital Academic Repositories. No other nation in the world offers such easy access to its complete academic research output in digital form, the researchers claim. Obviously, commercial publishers are not amused. DAREnet was already launched about a year ago, but for demonstration purposes only. The €2m DARE programme - a joint initiative by all the Dutch universities, the National Library of the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) - harvests all digital available material from local repositories, making it fully searchable. Aside from bibliographical information, the content can be full text, or even audio and video files. The initiative is clearly not welcomed by commercial scientific publishers such as Elsevier Science. Increasingly, universities complain about the high cost of scientific journals and many argue that the research results should be distributed freely or at significantly less cost to library subscribers. In Hungary, financier and philanthropist George Soros is also backing a new effort to provide free and unrestricted access to scientific and other academic literature. ® Related stories Unis free to rummage through century of physics research Southampton Uni goes Open Access University launches semantic web interface
Five years ago, a new "supervirus" hit the headlines. It had the two successful - but evil - elements: destructive virus coding coupled to an enticing title and the simple fact that it arrived from someone the recipient knew. The combination was virus dynamite. Most viruses start slowly and then build power; "I Love You" hit the computer world like a bomb - anti-virus companies had not seen anything like it and while they struggled to contain the infection, copycats were re-titling the virus and releasing in their own language. At this point you might expect the story to flash-pan to a prison cell and a description of the miscreant responsible for the outrage safely behind bars. However, the person who almost certainly wrote the virus - proved not only by his own admission but also by a stack of corroborating evidence - is today a free man with a no criminal record. That's because in the Philippines - where he lives - there were no laws against computer misuse and the authorities had nothing to charge him with. Today, almost five years after the event "Spyder" (real name Reomel Lamores) is saying nothing about the virus, referring all calls to his lawyer who - in turn - also refuses to comment. Not even "sorry" for the hundreds of millions of pounds of damage it allegedly caused and the general pandemonium it generated. US tabloid TV programmes and book authors have dangled cheques in front of his nose - but at the moment he rejects them all. Local reports say he fears being kidnapped and has nightmares about being bundled on to a boat and taken to the USA. Spyder's Web In May 2000 Spyder was a minor computer programmer in the employ of the local China Bank, living in a low-rent Manila apartment with girlfriend Irene De Guzman. After its release into the wild, I Love You - aka "The Love Bug" - was quickly traced back to Spyder who was held by the authorities on unspecified grounds. US and European law enforcement authorities fought to be the first to try the then twenty seven year-old. The FBI even put seven men on the case, including their specialist virus sniffer Federick Bjorck. Under questioning Spyder started by claiming total ignorance of events and blandly refused to assist the authorites. Even in the face of mounting evidence - including his own email address carrying the outbound virus - for which he had no explanation. Eventually, he changed his story to the one he maintains to this day: The honest accident. He was messing around with coding "and the code escaped". Strangely this is slightly supported by the evidence. A thinking virus writer would have worked harder to cover his tracks. Some speculate that the whole stunt was created to impress his new girlfriend and he secretly hoped to get caught. The virus was smart - for that time - in that it knew about file length. The full title (of the original e-mail) was LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs. The length of this tile was vital because (on default Windows setting) this hides the .vbs extension and it could be taken as plain text. When up and running, the virus looked in the address book of Microsoft Outlook and sent copies of itself to everyone therein. For good measure, the virus then linked to four pages on Sky Internet (in the Philippines) which, in turn, downloaded the falsely named WIND-BUGFIX.exe. This had the effect of collecting and sending email addresses and passwords to a known second email address. This second part of the operation didn’t last long. The ISP noted the huge surge in traffic and suspended the pages. Within hours the FBI bloodhounds were on the scent of the perpetrator. However before they did the title had already changed to one of the hundreds of variations that followed - Very Funny Joke. In June of that year, and barring any other law with which to prosecute him, authorities charged Spyder's girlfriend Guzman - who came under suspicion because of a certain expertise with computers - under the local "Access Devices Act" of 1994, which outlaws the illegal use of account numbers and passwords - a law directly related to credit card fraud. The charges were based on her owning the central computer from which the virus eminated. However, even these had to be dropped. Later that year, the Philippines introduced new laws to target and outlaw a wide range of cybercrimes. But as the FBI are quick to point out - there are plenty of places left in the world that the cyber criminal is free to go about his or her business unhindered by the in-this-case-not-so-long arm of the law. ® Related stories Roll up for your ILOVEYOU fix The Register guide to beating the Love Bug. Not Bill Clinton associates Love Bug with terrorism
Site offerSite offer SQLite is the next big thing in the PHP web development world - the popular, easy-to-use database is supported by, and bundled with PHP 5. SQLite is a small, fast, embeddable database and differs from most SQL database engines in that its primary design goal is to be simple. What makes it popular is the combination of the database engine and interface into a single library as well as the ability to store all the data in a single file. Its functionality lies between MySQL and PostgreSQL, however it is faster than both databases. Find out more about SQLite at http://www.sqlite.org/. This week at The Register bookshop we're featuring SQLite - Chris Newman's thorough, practical guide to using, administering and programming this up-and-coming database. If you want to learn about SQLite or about its use in conjunction with PHP this is the book for you. You can save 30% on this and thousands of other great titles such as... SQLite RRP £24.99 - Reg price - £17.49 - Saving £7.50 (30%) Thorough, hands-on guide to using, administering, and programming SQLite Guru’s Guide to SQL Server Boxed Set, The RRP £100.99 - Reg price - £70.69 - Saving £30.30 (30%) Ken Henderson's three guides to SQL Server have been widely praised by readers and reviewers alike. MySQL RRP £35.99 - Reg price - £25.19 - Saving £10.80 (30%) MySQL remains the definitive reference and guide to using, administering, and programming MySQL databases PHP and MySQL Web Development RRP £36.50 - Reg price - £25.55 - Saving £10.95 (30%) The definitive best-selling book on combining these two open source tools to create dynamic Web sites Hitchhiker’s Guide to SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services RRP £37.99 - Reg price - £26.59 - Saving £11.40 (30%) Insightful, fast-paced, and fun - your inside guide to getting the most from Reporting Services Firefox and Thunderbird Garage RRP £17.99 - Reg price - £12.59 - Saving £5.40 (30%) With its easy, quick-learning modules, insider tips, rants, and blog entries, this is far more than a software manual: it's your guide to the new Internet revolution! Spring Into Linux® RRP £21.99 - Reg price - £15.39 - Saving £6.60 (30%) All you need to succeed with Linux—without the hassles Spring Into HTML and CSS RRP £21.99 - Reg price - £15.39 - Saving £6.60 (30%) The fastest route to true HTML/CSS mastery Inescapable Data RRP £21.99 - Reg price - £15.39 - Saving £6.60 (30%) How "data everywhere" transforms business, technology, and the way you live 50 Microsoft Windows XP Things You Must Know RRP £10.99 - Reg price - £7.69 - Saving £3.30 (30%) Get up and running quickly with 50 Microsoft Windows XP Things You Must Know Skinning Windows XP RRP £13.99 - Reg price - £9.79 - Saving £4.20 (30%) Take the Microsoft Windows Graphical User Interface to a whole new visual and functional level Microsoft Office 2003 Killer Tips RRP £22.99 - Reg price - £16.09 - Saving £6.90 (30%) Provides instant answers and insider access to all of the features hidden within Office 2003 Tricks of the Microsoft Office Gurus RRP £28.99 - Reg price - £20.29 - Saving £8.70 (30%) Real-world examples that showcase the tips and tricks which can be used in everyday business tasks Don’t forget your opportunity to review current and previous offers: The Reg Bestsellers Last week at The Reg Great new releases This week's book bag
The problem of tufty-tailed squirrels gnawing through BT phone cables drew some interesting emails from readers. No sooner had we run the story of the couple from Berkshire troubled by a furry pest, Sean wrote to tell us that he also suffered "squirrel damage" which cost him £150 to repair. David recalls a similar experience, but with an unhappy ending for the squirrel. Some years ago I worked with someone who had exactly the same problem, and after several repairs of the line the BT man suggested a permanent fix might be found by calling the pest controllers. The pest controller turned up and after weeks of attempted poisoning and trapping in the loft almost gave up but suggested one last try. He fixed a board on top of the fence that was the squirrel's regular entry and exit route and liberally coated it with contact adhesive. Hey presto! In the morning there was the squirrel frozen in mid-scamper like a Ray Harryhausen monster during production. Service was permanently resumed shortly after. All's well that ends well - except for the squirrel that is. For more tales of Tufty check out this special from Scary Squirrel. ® Related stories Badgers ate my phone line Squirrels blamed for gnawing through BT phone line 900 BT biz punters snagged by BT 'system problem' Glasgow vandals cut 5,000 phone lines Oops! BT bills man £25,000 for cut cable
Orange is pulling the plug on Wildfire - its voice activated digital personal assistant that does all sorts of clever things on the end of a mobile phone. The system drummed up an army of fans who relied on the voice activated system to take messages, place calls and store information. Like a "real" PA, Wildfire also became familiar with punters' "personal requirements" (ahem) the more they used it. Snag is, the system ain't been doing so well lately and with the number of users falling to around 10,000, Orange decided that enough is enough and confirmed that the service will be axed from the end of May. "Over the last eighteen months user numbers have declined rapidly and during a recent review of the service it became clear that Wildfire does not offer some key features that Orange customers have come to expect from their answer phone service," said Orange in a statement. In the future all users will have to use Orange's bog-standard voicemail system. One cusomer told us he was particularly miffed because Wildfire is the "only really safe way to take voicemail messages 'hands free' in the car". A petition calling for Orange to reconsider its decision has been set up here and at the time of writing had amassed just over a hundred signatures. Anyhow, spare a thought for Orange. It coughed up a whopping €148m ($142m) to acquire Wildfire Communications in April 2000 and now it's canning the service. Ho hum. ® Related stories Orange adds Wildfire virtual PA to mobiles Orange phones will clean your teeth too Orange boss Snook moots transaction tax and bossy fridges
Nominet has at last found someone to fill its chairman post - retired top company lawyer and experienced chairman Bob Gilbert. Gilbert, 57, was until last year a high-flying senior partner of Birmingham law firm Wragge & Co, becoming its youngest-ever partner aged 25. He is also one of Birmingham's most well-known businessmen and has been or remains chairman of a wide range of big organisations. They include: the Motorsport Development Board, Everest Foods Plc, Plumb Holdings Plc, Variety FM, Victoria Plc and ADAC Paintbox Ltd. He has also been a director of Magneti Marelli Plc and York Trailer Plc, among others. Gilbert is recognised as a leading company lawyer - something that will suit Nominet well in what may be difficult legal waters ahead. He was also one of the first UK lawyers licensed to practice as an insolvency lawyer by the DTI, but we shan't read too much into that. Less illustrious was his chairmanship of Marketing Birmingham, which was faced with a lot of criticism and saw several key members quit, although Bob fiercely defended the organisation. It also produced a LogoWatch item. The other downside appears to be that Gilbert has very little experience of the Internet, although when we spoke to Nominet's managing director, Lesley Cowley, in January, she told us this was not necessarily what Nominet was looking for. . "In general, [we want] someone who is experienced at a senior level, able to chair meetings, who has made an outstanding contribution within their industry, and who has experience of a company of Nominet's size," she explained, adding, "this really is a traditional chairman role of developing strategy. It is open to a wide range of people, although they should be Internet-aware." In a statement today, Cowley, who has been renamed chief executive of Nominet, said: "This appointment is great news for Nominet. Finding a new chairman with the boardroom experience and all round business expertise that Bob will bring has been quite a challenge. But now that he is in place we are sure that Bob will make a huge contribution to driving Nominet forward and we are very pleased to welcome him to the team." Gilbert said: "This is a rare opportunity to be involved with a successful organisation at the heart of a very dynamic and challenging industry. I look forward to realising some of the potential for growth and development that exists at Nominet and in helping to shape Nominet's future direction and corporate ambition." The chairman post has been unfilled since founder Dr Willie Black left the company on 8 December after nine years (Black is now a member of Nominet's Public Advisory Board). An initial recruitment drive saw four applicants of 70 shortlisted and interviewed but none were found to be suitable and in January this year the post was re-advertised. ® Related link Nominet announcement Related story Nominet finding it hard to replace Willie
The EU's science budget could be doubled to €10bn a year, the European Commission says in its initial proposal for the next science programme, Framework 7 (FP7), to cover the years 2007-2013. The EC has costed the total for FP7 at &euro:70bn. However, much debate is expected in the snakepit of EU politics before details of how much exactly will be allocated, and how it will be spent, is finalised. In June, the European Council - the conclave of Europeans heads of government - will meet in Brussels to settle the total size of the EU funding pie of around a trillion euros for the next seven years. This has to cover all areas of EU spending, from security, to agriculture, eurocrats' wages to the international motorway network. The commission, and the EU's poorer countries, want more than this - equivalent to 1.24 per cent of member states' GNP - for the EU budget. But Britain, Germany, Sweden and some other richer countries - fed up with being the EU's paymasters over the decades - have indicated they want to cap spending at one per cent of member states' GNP. A cap would be bad news for the commission's science proposal, which covers such areas as health, food, agriculture and biotechnology, nanosciences, energy, and communication technologies. Without an increase in the EU's budget, there would be no scope for extra science funding. The EU's white elephant, the common agricultural policy, comprises nearly half the EU's budget and has been fixed to 2013, after a stitch-up deal a few years back between main CAP beneficiary France and Germany. Regional funds, the second biggest expenditure, could be a politically-sensitive issue if reduced, since they are allocated to Europe's economically-deprived regions. Other funding areas are insufficiently large to raid, given that science is already the third largest item on the budget. The bottom line is that Europe's governments want to spend more on science. Average national R&D spending is only 1.5 per cent of GNP, half that of the US and Japan, and R&D is recognised as the key to economic progress The question is whether individual countries want to spend more on European science, rather than, for example, allocating the money the commission demands towards their own science programmes. The commission's rationale in earlier framework programmes was that their projects gave added value compared to national science funding by awarding money to consortia drawn from several different countries and from small and large firms, industry and academia. The idea is about "knocking heads together", avoiding duplication of expertise, and achieving the economies of scale and dissemination of knowledge that the US, with its single economy, its good university-industry links, and its common language, already benefits from. Unfortunately, the commission has been much criticsed for its management skills as well as for the quality of the science that this model has produced. A report published last year on the current programme, FP6, said that the commission's project evalautors were seen as incompetent at judging a proposal and offered too little feedback to the 85 per cent of proposals they rejected. "One page of feedback for several months of work is not worth it," said one applicant for proposals. Co-ordinators of projects complained of the difficulty of constant liaising with partners in other countries and the bureaucracy and expense of the EU's auditing requirements, ironically put in place because of large cost abuses of earlier programmes. There were complaints that evaluators made awards based on political correctness - to projects that included EU countries with little science expertise - rather than good science proposals. A further complaint was that European science lacked direction from a central authority with an overview and the ability to form a European strategy with funds to back it, equivalent to US research councils. The new framework programme has come up with proposals to deal with some of these criticisms, including a streamlines application process and a new European Research Council. But, in the words of one senior official, FP& won't be "a paradigm shift". Oxford plant scientist Prof Chris Leaver, the chairman of the UK biochemical society, is one of many critics. He said: "If the new European Research Council is run along the same lines as earlier ones, it will be a disaster and no one will sign up for it." Oncologist Gordon McVie, a veteran of EU funding proposals, said: "The science initiatives are stifled by bureaucracy, and this is compounded by the low level of administrators who are untrained even in the language of science , never mind the ethos." Faced with more of the same, governments might effectively scupper science commissioner Janez Potcnik's €70bn science bid by capping the total budget later this year. Even if they don't, there is no saying the EU's increased budget will definitely go to science. The EU has no shortage of lobbyists from the transport, development aid and public health sectors, all wanting their slice of the EU cash pie. Related stories EC sees tiny increase in women in science jobs EU to scrap greenhouse gas targets Europe's space council blasts off
A US hacker convicted of infecting Department of Defense with a computer worm was last week sentenced to 21 months imprisonment. Raymond Paul Steigerwalt, a 21 year-old Indiana resident and former member of the Thr34t Krew hacking group, was also ordered to pay $12,000 to the DoD in compensation for the damage he'd caused at a hearing before the US District Court in Alexandria. Steigerwalt pleaded to a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud over his hacking activities along with a separate charge over possession of child pornography at an earlier hearing in January 2005. Between October 2002 to March 2003 Steigerwalt was a member of the Thr34t Krew, a hacking group blamed by prosecutors for the creation of the TK worm. The worm exploited well-known vulnerabilities in Microsoft's IIS Web Server to spread across the Internet and install backdoors under the control of hackers onto infected systems. At least two computers belonging to the Department of Defense were infected and damaged by the worm. The TK worm enabled infected computers to be controlled over an IRC channel. A variety of actions, from scanning other computers for vulnerabilities to starting DDoS attacks on other computers and Web sites, could be initiated from infected hosts. The worm caused disruption and damage to computer systems in the UK and elsewhere estimated at £5.5m, according to estimates from the UK's National High Tech Crime Unit that accompanied the September 2003 arrest of two UK men suspected of membership of the Thr34t Krew. Jordan Bradley, of Bates Avenue, Darlington, and Andrew Harvey, of Scardale Way, Durham, have since both pleaded guilty to computer crime offences. Both are yet to be sentenced. ® Related stories Network worm uses weak Windows passwords US and UK arrests in computer worm probe UK police release TK worm suspects Two Brits charged with releasing TK worm Related links DoJ statement on Steigerwalt case (PDF)
Social engineering tricks by virus writers took a strange twist this week after hackers bundled malicious code with pictures of a famous dead albino gorilla. The Wurmark-K email worm displays a picture of Snowflake (AKA Copito de Nieve), an inmate of Barcelona Zoo until his death in November 2003, as it goes about its job of infecting Windows machines. The Wurmark-K worm spreads as an email attachment in emails with subject lines such as "Your Photo Is On A Webpage!!". If recipients open the attached ZIP file and launch the files inside (with names such as Sexy_02.scr or Lover_01.scr) on Windows machines they become infected by the worm and a graphic of an albino gorilla is displayed. As the image is rendered, Wurmark-K installs the Rbot-ABK network worm and backdoor Trojan horse, enabling hackers to subsequently steal information from an unsuspecting user or plant other malicious code. Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, said the gorilla picture is displayed only after a machine becomes infected. The tactic would lead people to believe the email was just a joke, he added. Although the Wumark worm presents a very serious security threat it's found few takers so far. Most anti-virus vendors rate it as a low risk. In any case it makes sense for surfers to protect their PCs behind personal firewalls and up-to-date anti-virus software. ® Related stories Banking Trojan disables MS Anti-Spyware VXer targets Romanian gypsy music It's time to pick your favourite virus Car virus myth debunked
ReviewReview I've looked at quite a few gaming notebooks, some of them good, some of them not so good. I've looked at mobile gaming solutions from hardcore players like Voodoo and Alienware, as well as lightning-fast machines from the likes of Rock and MV. But sitting before me right now is, without a doubt, the best gaming notebook I have ever got my hands on - and, amazing as it sounds, it comes from Dell, writes Riyad Emeran.
CommentComment Despite all the huff and puff emanating from the Australian music business about illegal file-sharing, it's comes as a bit of surprise to learn that you can't legally downloaded a number one single, even if you're prepared to shell out hard-earned cash for the privilege. Jesse McCartney is a harmless enough young pop star and actor who stars in "Summerland" and has a chart-topping hit - "Beautiful Soul". Jesse epitomises all of the attributes that the recording industry likes to push – young, wholesome, American - spot on for the teen hearthrob market. As has been widely reported, the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) and Recording Industry Association of America, among others, have been busily pushing so-called legitimate downloads. In its recent sales figures press release, ARIA had this to say: "In 2004, there was a ten-fold increase in the global market for legitimate digital music downloads – a trend that the industry anticipates will start to be replicated locally during 2005. Whilst the online services currently operating in Australia have yet to break through in the same way that they have overseas, the industry is encouraged by the overseas results during 2004 and looks forward to similar success locally during 2005." In their recent court proceedings against Sharman Networks and others it was clear that ARIA was also attempting to disseminate these messages: Don’t download music from peer to peer services such as Kazaa, buy your CDs instead. But of you have to download music, pay for it – and buy it from one of the three authorised retailers of downloads in Australia – Bigpond music, Ninemsn or Destra (through Sanity or one of their other partners). So after all of this, and all of the money spent in the Kazaa case, you’d think you could buy a download of Jesse McCartney’s national number one single. Right? Well... wrong! According to my study of the top 20 ARIAnet singles and recent releases, many chart titles could not be purchased from Bigpond music, Ninemsn or Destra. Hit singles unavailable from all of the services included Jesse’s McCartney’s aforementioned smash, as well as hits from Tammin, the Wrights, Garbage and Lil Jon. This leaves iPod-owning fans of these (and other) tracks with two choices: either buy the CD singles and rip them into a compressed digital format so that they can be played on their hardware; or download the track from an unauthorised peer-to-peer service/MP3 website. Beware, though: both of these alternatives are illegal under Australian copyright law. And forget going stateside, because Australian consumers still can't access iTunes and other MP3 services from the United States. ® Alex Malik is a lawyer, music industry commentator, and academic researcher at the University of Technology in Sydney. He is currently undertaking a PHD in law, with a specialisation in copyright law in the digital age. He can be contacted at Alex.Malik@student.uts.edu.au Related stories True stories from under the bar table - the Kazaa case concludes Oz investigators bust 'file-sharing' ISP Downloading digital music
Tech DigestTech Digest Certified gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny scour Gizmoville for the oddest digital goodies, while Bayraider keeps tabs on the best and worst of eBay. Read on in wonder: Obligatory iPod Accessory of the Week: Noreve's iPod Love case Want to pay six times more for your iPod case than you did for your iPod? Noreve's iPod Love case is a limited edition leather case (just 20 are being made) with a velvet interior, a white gold heart encrusted with 44 WSI quality diamonds and a 25 day wait (while they put one together specially for you). Each one is signed and numbered by S. Schaming of Saint-Tropez Schaming Jewellery (who? should I know this?). They're also available in black, white, grey, beige, baby blue, ocean blue, or red. There's a word to describe cases like these. It starts in V and ends in ulgar. Traditional 'how did that get on eBay' Story: Jet Powered surfboard Surf's up? Surf's revved up more like. Cool though the idea of a jet-powered surfboard is, we can't help but wonder if it's a bit... cheaty? Forget all that guff about catching the right wave - with this gizmo, you just have to flick a switch and hunker down. Even less gnarly for purists is the fact that you can use it in swimming pools. Pah. It's powered by rechargeable batteries - you get 45 minutes off one charge - and comes in single or dual-propellor models. Its top-speed is 4km/h, although that compares poorly to, say, a Great White shark's 24km/h. Not to worry you. Cool Gadget finally reaches the UK story: iChair Presenting possibly the greatest bachelor pad accessory since the La-Z-Boy, gadgeteers Boys Stuff has revealed the latest in sedentary technology: the iChair. Infused with tactile sound technology, allegedly the stuff that is used in theme park rides and air-force simulators, the chair has speakers built around the head that couple with a transducer to turns low level sounds into stomach-shaking vibrations. The chair connects to any home cinema/stereo system that has a phono output and is also compatible with Scarts too. It is expected to be available from 21 May for the hefty price of £599. Green Gadget of the week: Pure Water Waterex This sounds so similar to the food replicators in Star Trek - spot the geek - that I'm almost convinced it's a wind-up. It's a water cooler that apparently makes water from the air - a kind of dehumidifer with a filter. I'm going to suspend my disbelief for a minute, though, to tell you that it's capable of producing 38 litres of water in 24 hours, that it has five filters to make the water taste nice and that it has an overflow protection sensor for when it's full. My favourite boast is that it "provides water much like crystal-like dew only found on mountaintops." If it's real and it works, it's a brilliant idea for places where plumbing's hard to install. It's called the Waterex and is being sold in the UK by Pure Water Technology for £1000. Pure Water says one cooler should provide enough daily water for 10 people. Cool retro Gadget of the Week: Rolleiflex MiniDigi camera This delightfully cool camera, a modern digital remake of the classic Rollei Twin Lens Reflex snapper features a 2-megapixel sensor that produces the same square shaped pics as its predecessor. It also has a pop up LCD viewfinder you look down into and an SD slot. Apparently, it's got a "colour crushing" effect that should make photos look more like the originals. It's very pricey for a 2-megapixel digital camera, at $429, but I can't quite stop myself wanting one. But with a hand crank that you turn to ready the next shot, who wouldn't want one? Quick Picks: iRiver H10 – Pretty impressive iPod mini rival with top notch 260k colour screen lands in the UK. No wind up – Eton’s indestructible hand wound radios hit the stores. Sony DCR-DVD7E – Possibly the oddest looking camcorder so far. Looks more like a frisbee than a video camera. Vertu Ascent – The mobi for stupidly rich suckers now comes in pink. Loads more of this stuff at Tech Digest, Shiny Shiny, Green consumer blog HippyShopper and Bayraider which delves into the dark side of online auction sites.
Shares in Lastminute.com jumped 45 per cent today following news that an unnamed suitor has been sniffing round the one-time dotcom darling. By 4.30pm this afternoon shares in the online travel and gift outfit were up 47.75p (45 per cent) at 153p. A statement issued to the Stock Exchange at lunchtime today said: "The Board of lastminute.com notes today's share price movement and confirms that it has received an approach which may or may not result in an offer being made for the Company." The company declined to name the suitor, which is why analysts and industry watchers are now busy trying to figure out who is behind the approach. Names currently being tossed around include US travel giants such as Cendant or Sabre Holdings. Analysts also predict that Lastminute.com's share price could rise still further if other potential bidders are flushed out by the approach. In February Lastminute.com reported that takings for the three months to the end of December were up more than 80 per cent at £264.4m. At the same time, gross profit was £43.7m, up from £25m in the previous year. Despite this, the company reported a loss of £1.8m, more than the £1.1m in the same period a year before. ® Related stories Lastminute asks FSA for fax-checking probe Lastminute.com loss statement boosts shares Lastminute.com takes ad rap Argentina gripped by telecoms strike Cendant to buy ebookers for $415m - WSJ Lastminute.com floored by increased losses Ebookers cuts losses Lastminute.com chairman calls it quits Lastminute seeks £13m savings Potential buyers sniff Ebookers
Google has snagged a licence to do business in China, and has registered the URL www.google.com.cn. According to reports, is planning to open an office there by the end of the year. Web consults at Shanghai iResearch note that Google already has more than 21 per cent of the Chinese search market, which ranks it in third place, after Yahoo and Baidu.com, the BBC reports. The move certainly opens a big market to the search giant, China has around 94m people with web access, but it also raises several ethical questions. Chinese authorities are well known for their rather inflexible approach to the web, and for their Herculean efforts to maintain some rigid censorship rules. Authorities are particularly opposed to some of the more racy content available online, but have also turned their noses up at The Sims for fear that the game would corrupt the nation's youth. Any content which threatens "state security, damaging the nation's glory, disturbing social order and infringing on other's legitimate rights" is also banned. We have asked Google how working in this kind of environment squares with the company's informal motto: "Don't be evil" and striving towards the "highest possible standard of ethical business", as it states in its code of conduct. Google stresses that the license is just to set up a representative office in China, and no more than that, although it does conceed that it is very interested in the market. For the time being, it will be using the office as a base from which to conduct market research, and learn more about the market, a spokeswoman for the company told us. As for the ethical considerations, it says that until it is doing business proper in China, it can't really talk about them, because it doesn't know exactly what its situation will be. When it does, it will address these issues. ® Related stories China bans The Sims China jails woman in porn crackdown China snoops on text messages
In the sometimes dull world of storage, IBM has made a bold move against competitors such as EMC and HP by releasing the first four gigabit per second Fibre channel box from a Tier I vendor. Well, "release" isn't the best word. IBM won't actually deliver the new TotalStorage DS4800 until June 17. So that gives rivals a bit of time to match IBM's speedy gear, but the competition isn't expected to do so. They think 4Gbps boxes are a bit premature. IBM has centered the 4Gbps DS4800 around dual, hot-swappable Engenio 6998 controllers and SANtricity management software. The storage server sits at the top of IBM's DS4000 line of systems, outclassing the previous top dog DS4500 box with 3 times better performance. So we're talking a very fast, very capable midrange system that starts at $54,000. All told, the system can store up to 67TB. Companies such as StorageTek and SGI have 4 Gbps boxes out on the market today, but the major players - EMC, HP and even Sun - are still lagging. So what gives with IBM's move? "To stay at the head of the pack competitively, vendors sometimes face the prospect of walking along the leading edge of the market, a lonely, expensive exercise, in hopes of transforming early adopter straw into long-term customer gold," writes analyst Charles King in his Pund-IT newsletter. "Vendors win when they deliver products whose benefits both overshadow previous solutions and complement emerging technologies for which few clients have any immediate use. IBM’s TotalStorage DS4800 qualifies as just such a solution." That's a pretty glowing report from a not very easy to impress analyst. Along with having three times the performance of the DS4500, the new system "also offers twice as many host and redundant drive channels, four times the total drive channel bandwidth, and as much as eight times the dedicated data cache compared to the (old box)," King continues. The other, major vendors aren't expected to deliver 4 Gbps gear until "a demonstrable market exists." That's not such a bad strategy given that 4 Gbps-enabled hard drives won't ship until late 2005 or the beginning of 2006. IBM, however, is determined to be the trendsetter here. Basically, IBM has delivered a box that meets near-term performance needs but still has forward-looking technology to keep customers happy over the next couple of years. ® Related stories Sun buys $50m worth of NAS software IP IBM to fix bad quarter by axing 13,000 jobs DataCore gets cheap and dirty with iSCSI SANs EMC wags new NAS giant at rivals NetApp and IBM
Symbian sold 6.75 million smart phone licences during the first quarter of 2005, almost three times more than were shipped during the same quarter of 2004. The upswing helped the firm to post revenues of £24.8m for the three months to the end of March, compared to revenues of £12.9m in the same quarter of the previous year. Most of the increase came from royalties, while consulting revenues were flat compared to a year ago. During the quarter, nine new Symbian phones were shipped by Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Nokia and others. There are now 48 models of Symbian-based smart phones, 12 of which are designed for 3G networks. "Nokia is still the dominant producer of Symbian smartphones, having shipped 5.4 million in the first quarter of 2005," said Canalys analyst Rachel Lashford. "But the interesting thing is that companies like Fujitsu, Mitsubishi and Panasonic also released products during the quarter." Korea-based Samsung and China-based Lenovo have also announced their intention to bring out smart phones. According to the latest figures from Canalys, over 10 million "smart mobile devices" were shipped globally during the first quarter of 2005, with converged devices leading the growth. Although sales of PDAs fell six per cent during the quarter, shipments of smartphones rose by 137 per cent. © ENN Related stories Mobile email hits the road MontaVista Linux phones heading for US and Europe Nokia 7710 smart phone Smart phones boom - Symbian up, MS and Palm down Smart phones make inroads in business Orange and Microsoft push data at business Mobile Trojan kills smart phones
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Microsoft last week pulled the plug on an online security competition after it emerged that system flaws enabled entrants to manipulate their scores. The Gatekeeper Test was an entertaining test of wits for security pros: A series of progressively trickier multiple choice questions (two per working day) were to be offered between 2 to 14 May, culminating in an open question tie-breaker question at the end. Security experts from 20 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa were to compete with their compatriots, with a Tablet PC awarded to the the best in each country. The overall winner was to get a VIP trip to Microsoft's TechEd conference in Amsterdam this July. There were even league tables so you could compete with your mates. So what could possibly go wrong? The test attracted more than 20,000 IT pros, according to Microsoft, but right from the off things went awry. The system failed to accept to correct answer on some occasions, as Reg reader Stuart Antcliff discovered: "After pressing submit with, what I hope was, the correct answer it took me to their nice file not found page; I was even using IE because I figured it wouldn't work with other browsers. A quick test shows this happens with enough browsers to make it funny (I didn't find one that worked). Is this a cunning plan to lure us into working out what is wrong? Is it all part of the test?" No. Elsewhere, competitors learned they if they answered incorrectly they could press backspace and re-answer questions without any scoring penalty. Similar tricks allowed the unscrupulous to artificially inflate their scores. "After two days some people already at 1,750 points, when the maximum they could have achieved was 350 points per day," one anonymous participant told South African site ITWeb. Microsoft tried to discount earlier results (involving the equivalent of the £2,000 question on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) but after three days of headache, suspended the competition, as iexplained in its test blog . In a statement, Microsoft said it plans to re-start the game at unspecified time. It blames technical issues for problems with the game, which, we note, was never meant to be particularly serious, anyway. "The Gatekeeper Test experienced an intermittent ViewState clustering issue on the live environment. This means that certain servers in the cluster lost session state information due to data stored in the ViewState. Consequently, intermittent user scores were not being stored, resulting in a compromised scorecard for some participants. Microsoft has decided to close the game immediately to avoid any disadvantage to certain participants. The Gatekeeper Test registration site has been reinstated and participants can continue to take advantage of the education tools which are provided on the site, in preparation for the test re-start. New participants also have the opportunity to register for the test ahead of the re-start date," it said. ® Related stories Microsoft unveils details of software security process MS Trusted Computing back to drawing board Security is our biggest ever challenge Gates Irish programmer lifts MSDN security crown
Kodak has tapped its current president and former HP executive Antonio Perez to be the company's next CEO. The photo giant today announced that Perez will replace Daniel Carp as CEO on June 1. He will also gain the Chairman role from Carp at the start of next year after Carp retires. Shares of Eastman Kodak rose almost 5 percent on word of Perez's promotion. It's no secret that Kodak is having a hard time adjusting to the digital world. It hopes to use the digital expertise Perez gained during a 25-year stint at HP where the executive led consumer products and inkjet imaging businesses. Perez has been at Kodak for two years and was brought in by Carp. "Dan embraced the digital opportunity, and recruited Antonio as the leader who will advance Kodak’s success in digital markets," Richard Braddock, director of Kodak's board. "Both have focused on guiding customers through the industry’s technology shift, by developing a broad portfolio of digital products and services to complement the company’s silver halide offerings.” If Kodak has the cash, it might not be a bad time to bring in former HP CEO Carly Fiorina for some advice on how to best to conquer the digital market. We hear she talks cheap and knows how to pull off major turnarounds well. ® Related stories Digital camera market 'running out of steam' Toshiba hit for $465m in a Flash HP hooks Snapfish.com O2 and Kodak team for online piccies