18th > May > 2005 Archive

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IBM: we have simplified our software

Steve Mills, IBM's head of software, says the company has made "significant" inroads in simplifying installation and management for customers. IBM has changed the way it develops and manages its diverse set of product code bases, having bought 42 software companies - each with differing code bases - during the last 10 years, he said. IBM now re-uses 50 million lines of code to eliminate redundancy and to provide greater consistency for customers across products. Mills made the claims yesterday in response to Donna Scott, Gartner veep and analyst, during Gartner's Symposium and IT/xpo 2005. In a discussion titled "conquering complexity in software and networking", Scott said some Gartner clients are troubled by the complexity of IBM's software. Mills was joined during the debate by Charles Giancarlo, Cisco's chief technology officer. Under questioning from Scott, Mills confessed: "We recognize, we are the impediment" to simplified IT. He said that one problem is the need to balance innovation around new features, which some customers want - but which threaten to further complicate the underlying code base - with the desire to consolidate the existing feature set. "It's part of our DNA and part of what we do as a company," He said. "This is an endless struggle of how do we get the balance between delivering features for leading edge customers and providing scalability for the mass market." He also blamed developers' "culture" for helping complicate application development. "Given enough time and resource, software engineers will re-invent the work of everyone who's gone before them... with pride." Mills advised ISVs and customers to contain development by restricting the amount of resources available to programmers and the time they have to complete projects. Standards and open source mean that developers can re-use code and take advantage of componentized software, avoiding the need to re-invent. "Re-use is an enormous advantage in the reduction of complexity and improving usability," he said. ® Related stories IBM has moment of SOA clarity IBM outfits blade servers with cheap middleware for the masses IBM moves the database goalposts
Gavin Clarke, 18 May 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Politics hurting web services - Gartner

Vendor politics are clouding development of web services specifications and causing confusion and adding unnecessary complexity. That's according to Gartner, which has added its voice to a growing chorus of concern that the industry is moving away from simplified interoperability between different platforms - which was one of the original visions for web services. David Mitchell Smith, a Gartner fello,w said vendors could differentiate themselves by taking a step back from the hype, and offering a simple approach to the web services that they advance through the standards process and support in their products. Instead, vendors view standards as part of their competitive advantage. "The standards process is very political and there's a lot of perception of leadership", he said, with the leadership role based on who can define standards, who participates in the standards process, and who implements standards. Smith singled out the "WS splat", an ever-expanding tangle developed - invariably - by IBM, Microsoft and their various allies in one camp and Sun, Oracle and their own supporters in the rival camp. Examples include Web Services Reliability and WS-ReliableMessaging: the former is already with the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and the latter is headed that way. The World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) Web Services Description Language (WSDL) 2.0 is another bone of contention. WSDL 2.0 twice references WS-Addressing, another specification developed by IBM, Microsoft, BEA Systems and SAP. WS-Addressing was conceived by the vendors to provide reliable transfer of messages between multiple end points while WSDL describes network end-points using XML. WS-Addressing was submitted to the W3C just over a year ago. "That completely violates one of the principles web services people have had from day one - to keep it simple and modular. That's a giant red flag to say things are not working," Smith said of the WSDL 2.0 and WS-Addressing combination. W3C architecture Domain Leader Philippe LeHegaret, responding separately, said WS-Addressing is not required to implement WSDL 2.0 and WS-Addressing is not required to support WSDL 2.0. LeHegaret said it made sense for WSDL to point to WS-Addressing because WS-Addressing is a "fundamental piece" of the web services architecture. Smith made his comments yesterday at Gartner's Symposium and IT/xpo 2005. ® Related stories OASIS to define SOA OASIS open standards not open enough XML Tower of Babel - bring on UBL IBM throws weight behind BPEL WS Reliable Messaging creeps forward
Gavin Clarke, 18 May 2005

Nokia spreads N-Gage across phone range

Nokia didn't use the E3 games show to announce a third-generation N-Gage console, but it did announce that N-Gage games would be supported across its range of Series 60 smartphones. Thanks to DRM workarounds, N-Gage games are already playable on Symbian handsets, after a fashion, but this gives them the official blessing, and gives games publishers a much larger market to shoot for. Nokia says it will sell 25 million Symbian handsets this year, and 250 million by 2008. Last September N-Gage said it has shipped a million units of the console. That's not bad for a single smartphone (PalmOne boasted of shipping its millionth Treo recently), but it's far short of a barnstorming success. The first N-Gage compatible phones will begin to ship in the first half of next year, the company said. By this time Nokia's smartphone roadmap should look more coherent, as last year's decision to fold the Series 90 pen-based user interface into a Series 60 platform that supports higher resolutions makes its way onto the market. Developer tools for games houses should be available by the end of the year. Nokia introduced a range of N-Gage compatible accessories and touted a slew of updates to the most popular console games. ® Related stories Nokia nails N-Gage to its perch Nokia 'completely committed' to N-Gage Nokia cuts hit smart phone, multimedia R&D Nokia ships 1m N-Gage consoles
Andrew Orlowski, 18 May 2005

Yahoo! tests! VoIP!

Yahoo! has begun beta-testing its latest Messenger client, rewritten to support VoIP-quality, full duplex, voice chat over broadband. The software works around firewalls using NAT but doesn't, as yet, reach to the POTS phone network - it's PC to PC only, for now. Leader Skype offers this capability, albeit thanks to a hokey billing system based on PayPal. Yahoo! is lagging someway behind rival portal AOL. The latter introduced a VoIP client six weeks ago. AOL's VoIP client isn't quite integrated with its IM client, but it is fully featured phone service, available in 40 cities for $18.99 a month up, with plans at $29.99 and $39.99 monthly. As Sun Microsystems' VP for broadband and media Glenn Edens pointed out in a recent interview, that's considerably more than the $20 cost of adding a long range plan to your old POTS phone bill. But that's the price of staying at the bleeding edge of emergent technology, we guess. Windows users can download the bootstrap executable from here. ® Related stories AOL launches VoIP Canada says oui to VoIP AOL UK offers phone service Vonage rings up $200m investment VoIP carriers launch international peering network
Andrew Orlowski, 18 May 2005
fingers pointing at man

Microsoft sued over Excel

A Guatemalan inventor claims Microsoft is illegally using his software to transfer information between its spreadsheet products Excel and Access. Carlos Armando Amado says he filed a patent in 1990 for software which lets users move data between Excel to Access via a spreadsheet. He tried to sell it to Microsoft two years later, according to Reuters. Amado claims Microsoft starting using his technology in Access releases from 1995 to 2002. Microsoft deny this saying they started working on the technology in 1989 - three years before Amado came to see them. The suit does not claim specific damages but lawyers told Reuters they would be asking for about $2 for every copy of the software sold, which equates to $500m. The case is being heard in the US District Court of Central California Microsoft is also facing patent claims over Longhorn, the next version of Windows, from networking company Alacritech. It is also being sued by Forgent Networks which claims the software giant broke its JPEG picture compression patents. ® Related stories Forgent sues Microsoft over JPEG patents Patent injunction knocks Longhorn MS antitrust: IBM, Nokia, Oracle enter the fray
John Oates, 18 May 2005
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Sears sacks CSC

US retailer Sears Roebuck has pulled out of ten-year IT services agreement with CSC claiming the company is in breach of its contract. In a filing with the SEC, Sears said it was ending its contract with CSC “due to CSC's failure to perform certain of its obligations”. The contract was signed in June 2004 and gave CSC responsibility for desktops, servers and supporting company websites. But CSC responded with its own filing which accused Sears of ending the agreement without just cause. It said the termination was due to Sears recent merger with K-Mart and: “the termination for “cause” is invalid, contrived to avoid or reduce termination fees of tens of millions of dollars”. CSC told the SEC it had already made substantial investment in the contract and would continue to seek recompense but if it was unsuccessful there would be an impact on its earnings. The two companies are now likely to face each other in court. CSC has already failed in an attempt to get an injunction to prevent Sears ending the contract. Sears said it will continue to defend itself against any claim for compensation. More details on Cnet here. ® Related stories CSC German military mega deal scrapped over price row CSC secures $110m in UK contracts CSC pulls vacations from unproductive workers
John Oates, 18 May 2005

Nokia starts to shift N-Gage from console to platform

How ironic. When Nokia launched the N-Gage back in 2003, it insisted the device was a console first and a phone second. But you're a phone company, we said, of course it's a phone that plays games. No, Nokia insisted, N-Gage is a handheld games platform that just happens to allow you to make calls, send texts etc. How the world has changed since then. Nokia's attitude to N-Gage certainly has, no doubt because the console/phone/whatever singularly failed to set the mobile gaming world alight. It took Nokia over a year to sell 1m N-Gages - Nintendo shipped that many DS hanhelds in a month. Which is why the Finnish giant is now promising to build N-Gage's gaming component into a raft of smart phones due to ship early next year following a September 2005 launch. Essentially, the technology that lifted the N-Gage above Nokia's handsets is now ready to be included in phones as well as consoles, the company claimed. In short, what made the N-Gage a console rather than a phone, as Nokia originally maintained, now makes it just another phone among thousands of others. So it really is about phones and not about consoles. Not that Nokia said it was pulling the plug on the device. Presumably there are folk out there who want a console-styled phone to meet their mobile gaming needs. But if regular smart phones deliver the same functionality - not to mention the availability of Sony PSPs and Nintendo DSes, which do the gaming and media thing better - there's certainly less need to offer such a device. "We can continue with our N-Gage offering while helping to drive the adoption of mobile connected gaming at a broader level," said Gerard Wiener, Director and General Manager for Games at Nokia. But that's 'can', not necessarily 'will'. With developer and broad hardware support maintained, Nokia can now drop N-Gage without the world saying 'told you so' - or, rather, N-Gage becomes a games platform rather than a gaming device. In the short term, Wiener has said in the recent past that the N-Gage QD is due for an update. How necessary that is now, is open to question. Indeed, Nokia took the axe to its multimedia division earlier this year in a bid to cut costs. The multimedia division incorporates Wiener's games operation. And what of all the games developers Nokia persuaded to support its mobile gaming enterprise? By moving N-Gage functionality into other devices, they at least get the opportunity to sell to a potentially much larger audience. You haven't wasted your investment, honest. ® Related stories Nokia nails N-Gage to its perch Nokia smiles through falling profits Nokia 'completely committed' to N-Gage Nokia cuts hit smart phone, multimedia R&D
Tony Smith, 18 May 2005

UK IT bosses confused about governance

IT heads in the UK are convinced that better IT governance will impress senior management, but few of them have the money to invest in better systems. Research from the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Mercury Interactive, showed that chief information officers around the world think that better IT governance will restore management's faith in IT, with 70 per cent of UK CIOs stating that better IT governance would lead to more accurate financial reporting. But a follow-up survey conducted by Mercury itself found that only 26 per cent of CIOs in the UK could afford to up their spend on tracking their IT projects, compared to 43 per cent across Europe. Not only that, but CIOs do not regard their own departments very highly: when asked to rank departments according to how important they are to the business, these same CIOs only rank IT in sixth place, far behind departments such as finance and even marketing. Only HR ranked lower. Many CIOs also think their departments are not sufficiently connected with the business to implement governance properly. Almost 50 per cent of UK CIOs said that the biggest obstacle to compliance was that the IT department lacked business insight, while 45 per cent said it lacked the necessary skills. Speaking at a press conference in London yesterday, Elie Kanaan, vice president of marketing at Mercury, said that there is a fine line between mere IT management and IT governance. Kev Roberts, CIO at Gedas, part of the VW group, explained: "It is one thing to know what you are doing, but it is quite another to correlate that with what the business wants you to be doing." He argued that while IT might focus on "how are we going to do that?" other areas of the business have another language. They are concerned about the impact on metrics, cost per unit and so on. "If we can talk to management in their language, that allows management to make decisions about investment in IT," Roberts added. He concluded that IT governance can actually elevate the CIO within an organisation, if only because it allows IT to become a more integrated part of the business. ® Related stories UK workers in IM flirt, gossip, bitchfest Sarbanes Oxley for IT security? Are you storing up email trouble?
Lucy Sherriff, 18 May 2005

PalmOne launches LifeDrive

PalmOne has launched its $500 hard drive-equipped LifeDrive PDA - until recently the Tungsten X - as anticipated. And it's pretty much what the leaks had suggested: the 190g unit measures 12.1 x 7.3 x 1.9cm and packs in a 4GB hard drive, 3.9GB of which is available to the user. There's 16MB of ROM, but no RAM, according to PalmOne's spec sheet - in fact, the machine contains 64MB RAM, PalmOne people tell me. The screen is 320 x 480, 65,000-colour job. Underneath sits a 416MHz Intel XScale CPU running Palm OS 5.4 'Garnet'. The device incorporates Bluetooth and 802.11b Wi-Fi, and it sports PalmOne's new multi-connector to allow it to be connected to PC and Mac USB 2.0 ports. PalmOne has cleverly bundled remote access code, allowing the LifeDrive to download documents from the host PC across any Internet connection. The PDA ships with Files, the file manager PalmOne introduced with the Tungsten T5 last year, and can be connected to a host system as an external drive. It has also bundled NormSoft's Pocket Tunes in place of the RealPlayer commonly found on other PalmOne devices. Both play MP3 files, but Pocket Tunes incorporates Windows Media Audio support, though not DRM-protected ones. It also support the Ogg Vorbis format. Buyers can upgrade to Pocket Tunes Deluxe and stream their songs across the Wi-Fi link. Voice memo recording makes a comeback with the LifeDrive. There's the customary SD IO slot too. As expected, PalmOne is pushing the device as a smart mobile data carrier rather than the personal information manager of old, though it provides that PDA functionality too. But then so does an iPod Photo, which also offers more than seven times the storage capacity for $150 less. That said, the Apple device lacks the LifeDrive's big screen, video, networking and document processing ability, but most of these features are on the way. The LifeDrive ships in the UK on 26 May, for £329. ® Related stories PalmOne leaks LifeDrive pic ahead of launch PalmOne promotes Colligan US mag reveals PalmOne LifeDrive specs PalmOne hails the 'Mobile Manager' Amazon.com leaks PalmOne LifeDrive info
Tony Smith, 18 May 2005
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Software piracy down, but piracy losses up

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of software in use in UK last year was pirated. The figure is down two percentage points from 29 per cent in 2003, but still represents a huge loss to software developers according to a global software piracy study by IDC, sponsored by the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Thirty-five percent of the software installed on PC worldwide was pirated in 2004, a one percentage point decrease from 36 per cent in 2003. According to the BSA, losses due to piracy1 increased from $29bn in 2003 to $33bn in 2004. Losses increased even though piracy fell because of a growth in the PC software market of six per cent and the declining value of the US dollar against many world currencies. The US accounted for $6.6bn of these losses even though it had the lowest piracy rate of all countries studied (21 per cent). Software piracy in the UK cost the industry more than £1bn ($1.8bn), the survey concludes. Lobby fodder "The level of software piracy remains unacceptably high," said Siobhan Carroll, the BSA's regional manager in Northern Europe. "While ongoing campaigns by ourselves and other creative industries will help raise awareness of the piracy problem and respect for intellectual property, the support of the Government will be crucial in bringing the rate down." The BSA is now urging the UK Government to follow through on its manifesto pledge to take tougher action to tackle intellectual property (IP) crime. In its pre-election manifesto, the Labour Party said: "We will modernise copyright and other forms of protection of intellectual property rights so that they are appropriate for the digital age. We will use our presidency of the EU to look at how to ensure content creators can protect their innovations in a digital age. Piracy is a growing threat and we will work with industry to protect against it." The BSA called on the UK government to use its presidency of the EU to implement a controversial copyright enforcement directive in this country and "set a standard to other members of the EU, many of which have an even higher piracy rate". The study estimates software piracy across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region as a whole is running at 39 per cent. Mind your assets! The BSA also wants to highlight the security risks of using pirated software and to promote good software asset management practices. "Software piracy hurts local businesses as well as the global software companies that have become household names," it adds. The survey covered major software market segments including operating systems and consumer software. For its analysis, IDC drew upon its worldwide data for software and hardware shipments as well as conducted more than 7,000 interviews in 23 countries. ® 1 It's hard to say how many instances of pirated software represent actual lost sales at full retail price but the BSA neglects to address this point. There is a big difference between the "retail value of pirated software" and "sales lost to piracy" but it's a distinction the BSA has trouble grasping. Related stories UK.biz fined £1.8m for illegal software - BSA UK gov moves to bust bootleggers Software pirates cost $9.7bn in Europe - BSA One in five Brits 'buy software from spam' Creatives and techies amongst worst software pirates UK DrinkorDie members jailed for software piracy Bahnhof slams antipiracy ambush
John Leyden, 18 May 2005

Napster vows to maintain premium pricing

Napster will not cut its music subscription prices to match those of rival service Yahoo! Universal Music (YUM), company CEO Chris Gorog said this week. Napster current charges subscribers $10 and $15 for its standard and premium services, respectively. YUM, which launched last week, is charging $7 for the equivalent of Napster's $15 offering. Commit to a full-year up front and YUM only costs you $5 a month. Subscriptions are higher-margin products than one-off downloads of the kind championed by Apple's iTunes Music Store (ITMS). It's not known whether Yahoo!'s service is profitably on a per-subscriber basis. Given its insistence that its "introductory" pricing is likely to become the standard tariff very shortly, it probably is making a small profit on each subscription, though clearly not as much as Napster is. Instead, Yahoo! hopes to attract sufficiently large numbers of subscribers to make up the difference, and with an offering that's essentially identical to Napster's - but for the price, of course - it's hard to see it failing to win over consumers. Napster, for its part, will maintain its pricing, Gorog said, speaking at a J P Morgan conference. "We are not positioning our product as a discount product," he said, though Yahoo!'s aggressive pricing is likely to establish music as a low-cost commodity. Certainly, digital download pricing, whether through a subscription package or as one-off purchases, has been criticised as being too high, particularly given the downward trend in CD pricing. Napster last week announced a Q4 loss of $24.1m on sales of $17.4m. Napster's net loss for the full year was $51.4m - up from a loss of $46.4m in 2004. Then, Napster said it expects "modest growth" in its first fiscal quarter of 2006, pegging revenue to come in between $19m and $21m. It hasn't changed those numbers in light of the Yahoo! announcement, and Gorog this week admitted "we frankly have no idea what the impact will be". But it doesn't look good. ® Related stories Napster's Q4 loss swells as costs surge Yahoo! declares! digital! music! price! war! Apple iTunes sales sail past 400m Mashboxx opens beta test scheme CD Wow! enters download biz RealNetworks sneaks a profit
Tony Smith, 18 May 2005
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PC prices continue to fall

Prices for desktop computers continued to fall through the first quarter of the year with three out of ten machines now selling for less than €500. Researchers at Context looked at indirect sales business and consumers in eight European countries. The trend was most advanced in Sweden where more than half of computers sold in the frist three months of the year went for less than €500. Falling prices began to hit mid-range machines - sales of PCs priced between €800 and €1,000 fell from just over 15 per cent in the third quarter of 2004 to 8.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2005. In the first quarter of 2004 12.9 per cent of computers sold cost less than €500 while sales of machines costing more than €1,000 made up 15.1 per cent of the market. By contrast, in the first quarter of 2005 31.8 per cent of desktops purchased cost less than €500 and only 7.3 per cent cost more than €1,000. ® Related stories Intel prunes desktop, mobile Pentium 4 prices AMD pare s Athlon XP prices HP sets sights on Europe No. 2 PC spot
John Oates, 18 May 2005

USAF seeks space weapon mandate

The New York Times revealed yesterday that the US Air Force is lobbying president Bush to approve a national security directive which "could move the United States closer to fielding offensive and defensive space weapons". According to the paper, a senior administration official confirmed that the USAF is looking for a new directive to replace 1996 Bill Clinton legislation which put the emphasis on a "less aggressive" policy of deploying spy satellites - rather than pursuing Ronald Reagan's ultimately ill-fated "Star Wars" programme. Indeed, the NYT says that the Pentagon has already ploughed billions into developing space weapons and plans to get them into orbit - with little public debate - and that the details of the new directive are still under review and tight wraps. However, Air Force spokeswoman Major Karen Finn claimed: "The focus of the process is not putting weapons in space. The focus is having free access in space." Nicely put. We look forward to the USAF using its new-found freedom to get on with what has always actually topped its agenda: building orbiting low-cost public housing, hospitals and orphanages without a ICBM-busting satellite-mounted laser weapon in sight. An final announcement on the presidential directive is expected in the next few weeks. ® Related stories Rumsfeld demands cash for 'bunker-busting' nuke Introducing the 'Matrix' laptop-triggered landmine Scientists slam US plasma weapon US Navy downs dummy ballistic missile
Lester Haines, 18 May 2005

ISS oxygen generator claps out again

The oxygen generator on board the International Space Station has broken down again, according to reports. Russian news agency Interfax quotes an anonymous source at Russian Mission Control as saying that the troubled Elektron generator, designed to converts waste water into hydrogen and oxygen gases, is on the blink again: "At one time (the system) started working, at another time - stopped." The generator has been distinctly unreliable for some time, even prompting speculation that it could lead to the craft being abandoned. However, the astronauts are said to be in no danger, thanks to plenty of oxygen cannisters and back-up oxygen generating kit. According to Space Daily, there are plans to replace the Elektron with a new Russian system later this year. The astronauts must be getting mightily tired of this. Great views, really exclusive location, but BYO oxygen? Hmmm, we're not sure. ® Related stories ISS resupply runs on rails ISS resupply blasts off today Reg chats with ISS veteran ISS plumbing plays up again Brit plumber to visit ISS
Lucy Sherriff, 18 May 2005

Reg to BBC: we want our weather flat

The BBC's decision to switch from the traditional flat weather map to a so-called "virtual reality weather map" - introduced on Monday - has caused a bit of a rumpus among viewers, not least those of us at Vulture Central who like our weather flat, with fronts, pressures and wind directions clearly marked, and sun and cloud symbols to tell us where it's hot and where it most certainly is not. The Beeb itself admits that it received 240 complaints about the new format, and little wonder. Jamie May, of Ticehurst, East Sussex, thundered: "I don't think the graphics are up to the BBC's usual high standard. It seems to copy the commercial channels' rather juvenile and too literal presentation." We agree. Gone are the isobars and cold fronts, in comes the swooping "pilot's eye" view which doesn't actually provide any sort of clear picture about what the hell is going on. And if you live in Scotland, it gets worse... SNP MP for the Western Isles, Angus MacNeil, has slammed the new map as having a southern bias which makes it difficult for his fellow countrymen to get a proper forecast. Accordingly, he has filed Early Day Motion at Westminster "calling on the BBC to rethink the new weather graphics". And quite right too, although we can give Mr MacNeil a forecast for the Western Isles right now without the use of satellite technology of sophisticated 3-D graphical rendering: it's raining and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Those readers who share our disgust at the new BBC weather map are invited to join us for a pint at the Ye Olde Boy in Witheringspoonhampton. We'll be the ones in the snug muttering about when we were lads kids had proper respect for their parents and you could get a yard of ale for tuppence and still have change from a tanner to see George Formby at the Odeon, etc, etc, etc. ® Related stories BBC Weather goes 3D Luddite Reg readers want flat weather, please
Lester Haines, 18 May 2005

Nintendo re-clads GBA as Game Boy Micro

Nintendo is to re-release its Game Boy Advance SP handheld games console in a new slimline casing and re-brand it as the Game Boy Micro, the company announced yesterday. The Micro's 10 x 5 x 1.8cm silver shell is pitched at consumers who have become accustomed to stylish personal music players rather than the boxy, plastic game consoles of yore. The Micro weighs a mere 79g. And in a touch borrowed from the mobile phone world, the Micro's face-plate slips off past the 2in backlit colour display, allowing Nintendo to sell punters replacement covers in different colours and styles. Speaking of the display, Nintendo said the screen has its own brightness control. The outer casing may be new, but the internals are pure GBA SP, ensuring full compatibility with all the hundreds of games available for the platform. The Micro will ship in the US this autumn. ® Related stories Nokia starts to shift N-Gage from console to platform Sony details PlayStation 3 Nintendo makes Revolution revelation MS unwraps Xbox 360 Nintendo 'Revolution' to take place mid-2006 Nintendo DS sales top 5m units Sony sells 600,000 US PSPs in first week
Tony Smith, 18 May 2005
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Home PCs launch phishing attacks

Phishing attacks are growing more sophisticated as attackers devise ever more devious means to stay at least one step ahead of banks and others fighting the contain fraudulent scams, according to a study from The Honeynet Project. The report, Know your Enemy: Phishing, draws on data collected by the German Honeynet Project and UK Honeynet Project and focuses on picking apart real world incidents to discern the tactics of phishing fraudsters. As with a previous study on botnets, the findings come from monitoring a network of PCs deliberately left open to attack. What emerged from the study is the most detailed technical description of the modus-operandi of phishing attacks we've seen to date. It also discovered that lax security practices by consumers and small business are giving fraudsters a base from which to launch attacks. The researchers discovered that phishers compromised honeypot machines for four main purposes: to set up phishing websites targeting well-known online brands; sending junk mail emails advertising phishing websites; installing redirection services to deliver web traffic to existing phishing websites or for the propagation of spam and phishing messages via botnets. "We have learned that phishing attacks can occur very rapidly, with only limited elapsed time between the initial system intrusion and a phishing website going online with supporting spam messages to advertise the website, and that this speed can make such attacks hard to track and prevent," the researchers concluded. "IP address blocks hosting home or small business DSL addresses appear to be particularly popular for phishing attacks, presumably because the systems are often less well managed and not always up to date with current security patches, and also because the attackers are less likely to be traced than when targeting major corporate systems." The research backs up the theory, advanced by groups like Spamhaus as well as police investigators, that the trade in compromised machines (botnets) to send out spam is linked to groups carrying out phishing attacks. "Our research also suggests that phishing attacks are becoming more widespread and well organised. We have observed pre-built archives of phishing websites targeting major online brands being stored, ready for deployment at short notice, suggesting the work of organised phishing groups... Our research demonstrates a clear connection between spamming, botnets and phishing attacks, as well as the use of intermediaries to conceal financial transfers," the report concludes. ® Related stories Microsoft hunts web nasties with honey monkeys Britain tops zombie PC charts Rise of the botnets Phishing gets personal DNS attacks attempt to mislead consumers (pharming attacks)
John Leyden, 18 May 2005

Kinky shopper KOed by vibrating knickers

The following cautionary tale must surely rate in the top five of "most embarrassing things that can happen to you in public - ever". According to UK tabloid the Sun, a 33-year-old Welsh housewife ended up in hospital after wearing Ann Summers vibrating Passion Pants to her local Asda supermarket in Swansea. Unfortunately, she became "so aroused by the 2½-inch vibrating bullet inside that she fainted" then "fell against shelves and banged her head". This prompted the attendance of the paramedics who "found the black leatherette panties still buzzing". Having disabled the orgasmatronic underwear, they then whisked the senseless shopper to hospital where she made a complete recovery. Staff handed her back the Passion Pants upon discharge, discreetly concealed in a plastic bag. To its credit, the Sun does not name the woman. We assume, however, that she will be shopping at her local Tesco for the next ten years or so, or until everyone in the Asda who witnessed her ordeal is dead or has succumbed to total amnesia - whichever comes soonest. For the record, Ann Summers notes that Passion Pants are "Not for internal use". Now we know why. ® Bootnote Thanks to all those members of the neoLuddite Resistance Army who have written in to suggest that this is in fact another manifestation of the Rise of the Machines™. The elimination of the female of the species through vibrating panties? It's a chilling thought, but what a way to go... Related stories Vibrating Nokia self-pleasure - yours for £1.50 Romanian hides stolen mobe in vagina Stolen mobile rings in body cavity
Lester Haines, 18 May 2005

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Team Register, 18 May 2005
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Enterprise WLAN sales fell in Q1 - again

Enterprise-oriented wireless networking equipment makers experienced their second consecutive quarterly decline in sales during the first three months of the year, market watcher Dell'Oro said today. Sales were down six per cent on the previous quarter, the researcher said. The decline centres on the changes underway among WLAN vendors, with buyers starting to put back purchases until the market settles down a little. Most notably, Cisco acquired Airespace in January, which immediately forced Airespace partners like Nortel and Alcatel to seek alternative WLAN equipment suppliers, in particular Trapeze and Aruba. The upshot is a transition period while Cisco/Airspace, Nortel/Trapeze and Alcatel/Aruba sort out their offerings. Purchasers are likely to want to wait until the picture is more clear, Dell'Oro said. The researcher also noted that growth in the SOHO WLAN market slipped to three per cent during calendar Q1 after strong Q4 sales. That was enough to allow the WLAN market as whole to shrink just one percentage point sequentially. Earlier this year, Dell'Oro said it expects the SOHO WLAN market to shift from standalone kit - access points and adaptors - to products that incorporate Wi-Fi, such as TVs and other consumer electronics equipment. That will help push WLAN equipment sales up 13 per cent this year to $2.6bn, it forecast, with growth continuing through 2009 when sales will reach $4.3bn - a compound annual growth rate of 13 per cent. ® Related stories Strong Euro sales lift Cisco profits Cisco tightens grip on WLAN standards Cisco preps Wi-Fi tracking kit Enterprise falls in love with wireless networking Enterprise WLAN firms update switch tech Cisco to buy Airespace WLAN switch makers fight for survival
Tony Smith, 18 May 2005

eBay hails reverse auctions success

eBay is likely to extend its “Want it Now” feature because it has been so successful in the US. The feature was introduced stateside before Christmas and allows registered eBay users to put up the equivalent of a wanted ad for objects they want to buy. So punters are free to post a request for their very own likeness of Virgin Mary in a toasted cheese sandwich or a Volkswagen Golf once owned by the Supreme Pontiff. Bill Cobb, eBay’s president of North American operations, told Reuters the service had been so successful there was interest from international markets. Although it only represents a small fraction of eBay’s total business it has attracted quarter of a million postings since its launch last December. “Want it Now” has already launched on eBay.co.uk and offers some 68,000 adverts for items. These range from eyepieces for a Swift polarising microscope to a blue Marks and Spencers double-breasted blazer. ® Related stories Burgled mum finds stolen iPod on eBay Power outage floors eBay Pope's auto auctioned for $250,000
John Oates, 18 May 2005
channel

EDS UK cuts jobs

EDS might have sneaked into profit for the last quarter but it doesn’t look like it's enough to safeguard jobs in the UK. The services giant sent an email earlier today to UK employees offering them voluntary redundancy. According to an internal email obtained by El Reg, EDS staff at Applications and Information Technology Outsourcing have until 23 May to apply for voluntary redundancy. Appllications and Information Outsourcing make up about half of all EDS jobs in the UK. A spokeswoman for EDS confirmed that the email had gone out this morning. She said: “We are looking to cut about 100 jobs from Applications and the same from ITO.” Not all applications will necessarily be accepted. EDS employees who are over 50 years old will in effect be applying for early retirement but will have their applications considered in the same way. If an application is accepted EDS will provide a quote of redundancy, or early retirement, settlement on 16 June. Effected staff will then have until 24 June to confirm their departure before leaving the company 29 June. ® Related stories EDS moves to profit in Q1 Government IT contracts can make you cry: official EDS to UK gov - give us our £13m EDS wins £4bn MoD contract
John Oates, 18 May 2005

Captain Cyborg to write UK science funding guidelines

Uncowed by public ridicule, attention-seeker Professor Kevin Warwick has been appointed to a panel that will determine the basis for public research funding decisions for the UK's higher education institutions. Captain Cyborg is one of twelve panelists chosen to set the criteria for public research funding in the UK's Electrical and Electronic Engineering departments. It's one of 68 panels encompassing medicine, the social sciences and the languages and is conducted by the Research Assessment Exercise, a quango funded by Higher Education Funding Council for England, and its counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The study, due to be completed in 2008, involves over 900 nominated academics. And Warwick himself, who in 1999 warned of the danger of "virtual reality drugs ...transmitted across the internet or using radio waves", and claimed that a passive radio tag implanted under his skin had made him the world's first cyborg. But Warwick's mutilation fetish doesn't end with himself. Three years ago he was referred to the General Medical Council and a local authority for assault after advocating the implantation of a tracking device in an 11-year old. The device that Warwick said he'd designed didn't exist and never materialized. The RAE repeatedly stresses the importance of academic expertise in setting the standards for research funding. "Expert review is central to the RAE. To maintain this confidence, we have appointed panels of experts who are currently or have recently been active in high quality research ... Expert panels will use their professional judgement to assess RAE submissions, supported by a range of quantitative indicators, as appropriate," we learn. "Panels are instructed to define appropriate criteria for identifying excellence in different forms of research endeavor." But excellence isn't how colleagues, peers or a sceptical public view Warwick's work. "The terms just tumble out, unlinked by any kind of coherent picture, never mind critical insight," in the words of reader Daniele Procida. "Warwick is insulting and offensive to almost everyone - to people in his field, to those whose labours have produced knowledge he blunders past, to sufferers of illnesses he doesn't understand and hasn't apparently bothered to try to understand, to everyone who has tried to understand the things he oafishly grabs at to insert into his fantasies, to everyone who cares about any of these - because he appears simply not care about any of them." The Electrical and Electronic Engineering sub panel is chaired by Professor Steve Williamson of Manchester University. You can voice your concerns about Warwick's appointment to the secretariat, here. ® Related Link RAE's Guidance to Panels Related stories Captain Cyborg - that healthcare program in full Captain Cyborg to risk all for science Kev Warwick cyberkiddie no closer to activation Captain Cyborg returns with Wi-Fi rhubarb! Captain Cyborg is a Media Tart. True Cap Cyborg to chip 11 year old in wake of UK child killings
Andrew Orlowski, 18 May 2005
channel

EU takes axe to software patents directive

The European parliament has renewed it opposition to the software patents directive, by making substantial alterations to the draft. The Financial Times says it has seen a copy of the amended directive, penned by the bill's rapporteur, Michel Rocard. Under the terms of Rocard's draft, software would only be patentable if it controlled a physical process, or a controllable force of nature. Patents would not be allowed for software that handles "the treatment, the manipulation, the representation and the presentation of information". It would not be surprising for the European parliament to have made this move: its opposition to the terms proposed by the European commission has been long standing, and vociferous. Back in September 2003, MEPs moved to significantly restrict the scope of the directive. Almost all of those changes were thrown out by the Council of Ministers, provoking accusations of anti-democratic behaviour from opponents of the bill. Since then, new member states have brought fresh opposition to the text, even at council level, with Poland voting the bill down several times before the text was finally accepted and sent back to parliament for a second reading. In normal circumstances, parliament would be restricted to introducing changes it proposed during the first reading. However, because the readings have crossed two presidencies, this requirement has been waived. Unsurprisingly, the representatives of big business are not happy. Mark MacGann, president of Eicta told the FT: "This proposal would eliminate much of the patent protection accessible today by the industry in Europe. It goes against the fundamentals of existing patent law in Europe. Patents based on data processing would no longer be enforceable." But Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger told the paper: "We want to be very clear in excluding many applications [from patent protection]. We must be aware that small and medium-sized companies in particular are hurt by patents." To pass these changes at the plenary vote in July, Parliament must accept them by an absolute majority. Anti-patent campaigners are concerned that this will make it difficult for the amendments to move forward, but Joe McNamee, EU policy director at the Political Intelligence consultancy, told us last month that it can, and does happen. "The point here is that the Parliament could simply adopt the amendments that it knows the Council won't accept and just stick with them - meaning that the Directive will ultimately fall. The Parliament already said that the Directive should be redrafted, so that would be the logical thing for them to do, unless they've changed their minds," he said. ® Related stories Software patent directive back in motion European Parliament votes to scrap software patent text European software patent law hangs in the balance Poland blocks software patents again MEPs call for fresh start on software patents Software patents: the fight in Europe
Lucy Sherriff, 18 May 2005

Google can take the web, yawn readers

LettersLetters Bad news for Google - it won't be taking over the world with its Web Accelerator any time soon. That's because the web is much less important, compared to other internet services, than the giant web search engines like to think. "If they really want to sink their brand into this," yawns one mightily-unimpressed Reg reader, "Google will end up controlling a high end phone book and homework library." That's one of the reactions to our take on the Cringely view of Google's Web Accelerator as a world-domination ploy, we discussed here. And similarly, with their focus on chat and games, the Asians might actually be on to something. Pipex founder Peter Dawe has also penned a view of what went wrong with the Internet, which is a don't-miss. On with the show. Google can take the web, it doesn't overly affect me and a large number of people I know who use the internet in more of the Asian way. We heavily use our internet connections for other items like games, irc, voip, web radio and TV Another thing that we are actually doing is vpn'ing our home networks together and even developing our home networks so that we have central music and video stores and stream them across to our other machines dotted about the house. We're even playing with creating our own TV channels based on our large collections of movie files and VLC so that we can simply enter the streaming address and pick up on the stream from one of our servers and watch tv as we like instead of being restricted to programming schedules forced upon us by the TV channels - and using our PVR boxes we can add new content all the time to schedule at a later date. Chris Johnson It won't matter in the end. Our concern with the 'bare metal' of the internet mimics our earlier fascination with chip architectures, instruction sets and motherboards. These are now commodities and the average punter doesn't care how it works or who supplies the chips (neither do I for that matter). The internet is infrastructure and in the future will be about as exciting and newsworthy as a root canal. General purpose home computers will gather dust as special purpose machines with cool designs and unbreakable software take over. Entertainment will bypass your computer and go directly to a home entertainment concentrator, IM will go direct to your mobile and news will be delivered direct to (ironically) your telly. If they really want to sink their brand into this, Google will end up controlling a high end phone book and homework library. Try to imagine how little I care. Gregory Nicholls As for the AsiaNet, with Google's recent crossover into China, we should watch for what sort of shrewd ideas they come up with over there. Online Games and Instant Messaging are infants (at least in terms of widespread useage) compared to web content and there's literally hundreds of possibilities for them in the future. If Google plays it smart and plays nice with the Chinese Government, they might have a lot of influence on how computer use in China evolves. Look at the effect they've already had everywhere else.   Still, the thought of the entire internet being controlled by Google is absurd. Even if Google somehow managed to find a way to blanket themselves over the entirety of the Internet, they would not kill it. We need only to look back for the proof. People still listen to Vinyl over CDs. People still use IRC over MSN Messenger. People still play MUDs instead of Everquest.   People will always use the Internet. Jason Lepp Hi Andrew,   While there is a lot of uses for the internet and most consumers are out there trying them all (I wonder how many of them send away for the “Enlarge your penis with natural herbs” products), I think that there will be a point when the West starts to treat the internet like a tool again, rather than a toy and then you will see people start stopping to rely on the web so much.   It is interesting that you mentioned the web replacements for non-web activities. One of the things you didn’t mention was the way that IM services are trying to replace IRC as a means of direct communication (MSN and Yahoo! Chat rooms from within the IM clients as opposed to mIRC). I had a discussion the other day with a friend who said that she doesn’t go into chat rooms anymore. I was talking about IRC and assumed that she meant the same. But her idea of IRC was MSN Comic chat and the associated chat rooms. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that was not what I meant by IRC, I let her live in her own little world on that one.   These days, I do a little web surfing to maybe about 15 sites and I use the web for work purposes (I work in web development). Most of the time when I am on the web, I am either working or playing games or chatting on the IRC. Thanks to the glut of spam and advertising in emails these days, I tend to pick up the phone and call someone and re-awaken my social skills by actually talking to a person rather than a name on the web.   One day, I would like the web to be back to what it once was a decade ago. A pristine place where people come to do research and communicate with like minded individuals and not be plagued by popup’s popunders and self-installing XXX search toolbars and a million other useless things that unfortunately me and my colleagues in the web dev business has created.   Mark Leaver Bob Cringeworthy is a widely-written journo, but let's face it, he's also off on his own planet somewhere. Google offers an "intranet crawler" hardware device offering Google's search capabilities over a customer's intranet. It's never made any headlines; any Google ISP, Google PC etc, seem doomed to the same fate. Personally, I really liked the idea of a 1U Google-in-a-box intranet search engine, and expected it to be huge for Google. But it wasn't. I suspect that you're giving Google credit for more ability than they actually have. What they do have is an enviable index of the web (and usenet, FWIW commercially). They've also got some good skills in combining information, like their adverts on Google Maps. Their ability to run an ISP, etc, is a totally different matter. That's not how their network is built. Their network is built for read-only international queries, not localised data access. Steve Parker Was there ever an 'Internet' to take over? Well, yes, and no. I can't get this thought out of my head: Consider all the organisations with premises connected by VPN tunnels. They make closed networks out of the public network and will not go away because the alternatives are uneconomical - they certainly can't be taken over by Google. VOIP is another public network application that will change closed network telephony forever in exactly the same way - various people have speculated that Google might have a go here (dark fibre acquisition, anyone?), but there are a lot of vested interests and they might find it hard. So, with just these two examples of closed networks operating over the Internet and the standard western view of web and email, we can envisage what I will call Schroedinger's Network if you like... it's both public and private at the same time - and there is no way to take over without making it entirely one or the other. There must be countless applications and protocols that we can only speculate about, all of them adding up to a greater economic whole than that of surfing or chatting on the truly public Internet, even if the data volumes suggest otherwise. VPN's aside, I can think of many applications I have been involved with that used the public Internet for closed or proprietary uses - most of these were in the days of modems and were often embedded systems that uploaded data periodically - and yet only a very small number that have used truly closed networks (Teletext being one in particular that you didn't mention). Not convinced? Close all the VPN tunnels or shut down Google... which would truly change the world? Google is just a niche player, albeit a very big public one, it would seem. Matt Collins. A few flames for us for taking Cringely's fascinating theory seriously. You reported Cringely as saying, "Part of that has to come from Google assuming a larger role over time, taking responsibility for rendering Flash, for example" Normally I have a lot of respect for Cringely but this comment is cringeworthy. Flash is a bit-optimized format for the rapid transmission of animated graphical data over the internet. Its compression ratio is millions to one over prerendered data. The only technically feasible way to do this would be to render Flash, then recode it into, say, MPEG-4. In real time. That's a lot more power than it takes to serve a page from a proxy. For every user at a Flash site. As they get more and more common. Moreso, each user would require far more bandwidth, and for users with caps (bandwidth is *not* free) viewing one 100K Flash file as a prerendered MPEG-4 is likely to take up his entire monthly quota. There's a big reason intelligence doesn't go into the network, and it's not a matter of principle. It's a matter of bandwidth. While Google can save bandwidth it's offering a service that's useful. Nothing else makes sense. Eddie Edwards You know Andrew, the more I read Cringely, the more convinced I am that he's a troll. Even if he were just wrong-headed and ignorant, he couldn't be as consistently wrong as he manages. "If Google adds power to its part of the Accelerator, you don't have to add power to your end, meaning your old PC can last longer." What rubbish. Web browsing is already just about the lowest-impact activity you can perform on a desktop, and the limiting factor is rarely the desktop hardware and almost invariably the connection to the net itself. Any upgrade by Google is only going to affect the net connection - delivering more data faster is, in this model, going to make old PCs wear out *faster* - or would if the whole scenario wasn't bollocks in the first place. But wait! Cringely has an ace up his sleeve! Google will make your computer last longer by easing the CPU load by... "taking responsibility for rendering Flash." What? Does Cringley actually understand how the internet works, or is he like your maiden aunt who thinks adding half a gig of ram will make the Food Network network load faster? Flash is a compressed format designed for fast transfer over the internet. Google web accelerator is a caching technology designed to speed up the transfer of files over the internet. That is, both of them are designed to make the most of limited bandwidth. Pre-rendering the Flash server-side would only massively increase the time it takes to deliver it, which is the *exact opposite* of what the Accelerator is intended for. Great logic, chuckles. Not to mention that displaying full-motion video is going to be scarcely less intensive than rendering Flash in the first place. Unless Google is so clever that it can bypass entropy and deliver smaller files that take less power to decode and display the same data? So I can disagree with his logic and his conclusion without affecting the issue; can I disagree with the entire premise the article is based on without affecting it? My guess is no - which rather begs the question of why The Register is prepared to do so. James And now for where it all went wrong. Take it away, Mr Dawe. As the founder of PIPEX the first UK commercial ISP nearly 20 years ago, I feel I may have an interesting perspective on corrosion of the Internet.   The first problem, was the introduction of Network Address Translation, with dynamic addresses, the ability to shut down any malign agent was forfeited. further NAT required the use of port mapping, this has lead to many services being served by one port number, rather than a service per port. Thus, when I open up a port for Instant messaging, I  introduce a ftp service as well. NAT also destroyed the peer to peer nature of the network,   Us early pioneers understood that access permissions were essential, if control was lost on permissions, all is lost. .   Port mapping and loss of permission control are, like most pollutants impossible to take out of the system. Even if we re-implemented using, for example IP V6, The port mapping code would remain in the server software. Bearing in mind the ubiquity of 'bad application code' implementing a closed network does not help the same applications get run. Minitel and SMS are not analogous to a private network, they are narrow applications which though they are less attractive to pollute, they are still polluted. I'm sure I'm not the only parent to have a son 'mugged' by premium rate SMS services or receive SMS Spam inviting me to send an SMS to an unknown admirer.   Don't look for encryption to completely rescue us either. too many people are ignorant, lazy, stupid or criminal to maintain a high enough level to maintain probity. Look at the number of successful phish frauds   What hope? Well if there was ...   1) A cut down web browser that can ONLY display text, pictures and play audio and video. No Java, No nothing ( I'll put up with not being able to access sites that require me to strip naked and bend over! no matter how attractive the offer) 2) An IPv6 internet where address and port mapping are outlawed 3) All communications digitally signed, and emailers and browsers that automatically check 4) Signed applications, and an operating system that automatically checks. 5) A digital identity service that allows the cross checking of signed transmissions .  But none of these are going to happen, so its back the handshakes, pen, post and cash. pessimistically,    Mr Peter Dawe CEO P Dawe Consulting Ltd One web for the Californians - many nets for the rest of us? Sounds good. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 18 May 2005

Coming soon: the 10-year nuclear battery

Scientists in the US have developed a new fabrication technique that will lead to nuclear batteries that could last for decades. The researchers, based at the University of Rochester, claim that the technique is already ten times more efficient than current nuclear batteries, and has the potential to outstrip them nearly 200 times. This breakthrough is unlikely to have an impact on your mobile phone or notebook battery life, however. The technology is designed for inaccessible places or under extreme conditions, and is more likely to find its way into pacemakers, implanted defibrillators, deep-space probes or deep-sea sensors, the researchers say. Although the basic technology - betavoltaics - has been known for around 50 years, low energy yields meant that its usefulness has been limited. Betavoltaics uses silicon to capture electrons emitted from a radioactive gas, such as tritium, to form a current. But this current is less than is generated by a typical solar cell. Part of the problem is that as the radioactive substance decays, most of the electrons miss the silicon surface. Philippe Fauchet, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Rochester, and co-author of the research commented: "For 50 years, people have been investigating converting simple nuclear decay into usable energy, but the yields were always too low. We've found a way to make the interaction much more efficient, and we hope these findings will lead to a new kind of battery that can pump out energy for years." What Fauchet and his team have done is to massively increase the surface area where the current is produced. Rather than use a flat collecting surface, he and his team have riddled the silicon with micron-wide pits, using standard semiconductor fabrication technology. Each of the pits will fill with the tritium gas, and as the gas decays, far more of the resulting electrons collide with the silicon surface. "Our ultimate design has roughly 160 times the surface area of the conventional, flat design," Fauchet concludes. The research was published in the current issue of Advanced Materials. Read more in the release from Rochester University here. ® Related stories Biofuels key to UK farming future Six more months for Mars rovers Scientists suck hydrogen from sunflower oil
Lucy Sherriff, 18 May 2005
globalisation

15,000 HP workers get nervous as analyst predicts massive job cuts

HP's new CEO Mark Hurd could order 15,000 workers canned in the very near future, according to a leading financial analyst. "We expect that CEO Hurd will likely articulate his detailed plan for improving HP sometime over the next two months, and we do expect material workforce reductions - likely numbering 5 percent to 10 percent of the workforce (or 7,500 - 15,000 people)," wrote Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., in a research note issued today. The analyst's warning comes one day after HP posted ho-hum second quarter results. Hurd, during a conference call after the results were released, voiced his plans to cut costs across HP. The CEO vowed to continue a workforce reduction plan already in place when he took the helm of the company on April 1 and said HP would likely record a $100m charge for cuts made during the current quarter. Hurd also threatened to chop jobs from the server and storage side of the business in order to increase its profitability. HP and Hurd expect to give a more complete vision of the company's direction "as soon (the) plans are finalized." If Sacconaghi's track-record is any indication, HP will cut the full 15,000 and then some. Last month, the analyst warned that IBM would likely fire 10,000 workers after having a bad first quarter. IBM one-upped Sacconaghi a couple of weeks later by saying it would go ahead and fire up to 13,000 staffers. Sacconaghi has made similar, accurate calls on other hardware makers such as Sun Microsystems in the past. Overall, the analyst is bullish on HP, raising his per share target to $25 from $23.50. The job cuts could result in an annual boost to earnings per share figures of between 20 cents and 40 cents, Sacconaghi said. "We continue to view the risk/reward surrounding HPQ as attractive - we think the stock is cheap with nearly $5 per share in cash; profit improvement opportunities abound, Q3 estimates provide potential for upside, and we believe that new CEO Hurd is worth betting on," Sacconaghi wrote. The question, however, is whether or not an already battered HP can withstand a massive firing binge. Former CEO Carly Fiorina never recovered from the bad blood stirred up after she axed tens of thousands of jobs following the close of the Compaq acquisition. Beyond the morale cost, HP's famed engineering corps have been diminished, lessening the company's reputation as an inventive, R&D powerhouse. The HP brand might not stand another major cut. HP is still rich in talent, to be sure, but how long will the old hands be willing to hang on in this environment? Hurd made enemies quickly during his brief run as CEO at NCR where outsourcing jobs and thrusting severance packages on well-paid senior staffers were common practices. Will Hurd fight the urge to trim HP to the bone or will he be ruled by EPS? The answer, it seems, is already in. ® Related stories Disney greenlights outsourcing of 1,000 IT staffers IBM to fix bad quarter by axing 13,000 jobs O2 creates 1,500 Glasgow jobs IBM refuses to say where jobs axe will fall
Ashlee Vance, 18 May 2005

Over-compliance is the new compliance, says former SEC Chairman

Compliance. Compliance. Compliance. You can't escape it these days. The word has been tossed about in the public domain so often that the concept it represents has lost some of its meaning. Vendors of all types have stapled "Compliance" onto whatever product they find laying around, hoping fear might generate a sale. Despite the magnitude of the compliance gush, many companies still don't quite comprehend what they're up against, according to former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt. A select few companies have taken a leadership role, meeting regulatory standards and then going one step more. Others, however, continue to dawdle along, affected by irresponsibility or carelessness. "There are a lot of people out there who are not getting the overall message," Pitt told The Register in an interview. "They either harbor a secret view that there is going to be a massive rollback in regulatory requirements, which is not going to happen, or they are really not interested in getting ahead of the curve. They are really just interested in passing muster - minimal muster. "They may not like what we are witnessing, but it is what it is." The bit companies don't like is the heavy load of new regulatory requirements dished out to protect customers, consumers, shareholders and employees. In particular, many companies have revolted against Sarbanes-Oxley, which added a bit of accountability backbone to existing laws. Pitt knows the origins of this regulatory backdrop well. While SEC Chairman, he kicked off investigations into Enron and Arthur Andersen. But, upon his resignation after 15-months on the job, many questioned whether Pitt and the SEC had kept a close enough eye on corporate America to begin with, and voiced concerns over Pitt's strong past ties with the big accounting firms who he represented while practicing law. Controversy aside, Pitt's current firm Kalorama Partners promises to put clients under the ultimate compliance microscope and then tell them just how up to snuff they really are. "There are definitely clients who are unhappy with the proliferation of regulatory requirements, but I also think that most are very level-headed and sensible," Pitt said. "Our clients tend to be the folks who understand the importance of what we are trying to accomplish. I think there is a good sense on the part of many large companies that this is stuff that is not going away. It is serious. People have to be focused on all of it." Kalorama likes to add a personal touch to the rubber glove treatment. The 10-person firm doesn't let young associates near its Fortune 1000 clientele. It's big-whigs only. In addition, Kalorama, unlike law firms, doesn't charge by the hour. It charges a flat fee. The full list of Kalorama services can be found here. It's a pretty typical consulting menu. The company can look at your corporate structure, audit committee, compliance procedures and help with investigations. Then there is a special list of services for the really compliance crazy folks out there. "One of the ways you can resolve liability concerns and questions is by being appropriately proactive," Pitt said. "A number of companies actually get this. Their directors get this. "For directors, merely coming to meetings and doing their job with respect to the issues that have been presented to them is important and critical but is not sufficient. You really have to show that you didn't just sit there, but you were trying to figure out how to best serve your constituents." Kalorama won't release a customer list or even say how many customers it has, but Pitt insists the business is more successful than he imagined it would be. As a show that things are still moving along well, Kalorama has just rolled out a new service where customers can pass its compliance test and then receive up to 25 percent cuts on their insurance policies around corporate governance. It would be easy to argue that Pitt is selling this over-compliance idea so hard in the hopes of drumming up more business. The hirsute lawyer, however, likes to put more of an altruistic spin on things. "This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time," he said. "This is very rewarding because it's very constructive. We are helping companies deal with a very difficult environment." ® Related stories Does regulation work? 'Don't ask me,' says former SEC chief US cracks down hard on WorldCom UK IT bosses confused about governance Test your own software code for infringement Open source ahoy! Veritas plans to hand SEC $30m to end accounting saga Sarbanes Oxley for IT security? BOFH: Let the games begin
Ashlee Vance, 18 May 2005
DVD it in many colours

Battered HP storage staff deliver plethora of product

HP this week did its best to revitalize a flagging storage line by throwing a ton of new kit out into the wild. Most significantly, HP firmed up the languishing EVA (Enterprise Virtual Array) storage line with three new systems. The EVA 4000, 6000 and 8000 will replace the EVA 3000 and 5000 boxes that have been around for ages. As you might expect, the new storage servers have much higher overall capacity than their predecessors, and, by offering three boxes instead of two, HP has added choice to the EVA line. The EVA 4000 will ship with 56 hard disks, the 6000 will ship with 112 disks and the 8000 will ship with 240 disks. HP has watched over the past year as EMC and Network Appliance pounded it in the midrange of the storage market. In addition, the company's storage division has been behind some of its most embarrassing financial misses in recent quarters, prompting management to chastise the storage group again and again. Hopefully, for HP, the new EVA systems will bring some storage sales back home. HP also released a new product aimed at the high-end of the NAS market called the StorageWorks Enterprise File Services (EFS) Clustered Gateway. This system combines HP's DL380 servers with PolyServe's clustering software to make a file-sharing dynamo. The box can support up to 512 file systems and manage a whopping 8.2PB of data. HP hopes to compete against EMC and NetApp with this box. On the random hardware front, HP touted a EFS WAN Accelerator for improving branch office application performance over, you guessed it, a WAN by up to 100x. In addition, it highlighted the StorageWorks 6000 Virtual Library Systems for better backup and recovery, some ILM services and new recovery software for Microsoft Exchange databases. All in all, HP reckons this is its biggest storage launch in history, and the product couldn't come at a better time. Hopefully, some of the team that made it will be around to enjoy the gear in the months to come. ® Related stories 15,000 HP workers get nervous as analyst predicts massive job cuts New HP CEO coasts through mediocre Q2 HP becomes EMC software reseller in $325m settlement HP makes Hurd the $20m man HP whacks own storage software in favor of AppIQ
Ashlee Vance, 18 May 2005