19th > May > 2005 Archive

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Microsoft running late in virtualization

Microsoft's Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB), conceived originally as hardware-based Digital Rights Management (DRM) for Longhorn, is morphing into server virtualization, Gartner Group says. The analyst expects NGSCB to appear in a second release of the Longhorn client, which it thinks will ship between mid-to-end 2007 and the end of 2008. Virtualization is a relatively new category of server technology that is growing in importance, as vendors are forced to re-think the way they charge for their software. Among prime concerns is whether to charge a one-time fee or multiple fees for customers who use their software in virtual environments Microsoft's expected shipment date for the much-delayed Longhorn operating system means that it will be late to market with virtualization and - critically - allow Linux a foothold in controlling the underling hardware. Earlier this year, Linus Torvalds' right-hand-man, Andrew Morton, said he would include the Xen open source virtualization technology in the next Linux kernel. Virtualization technologies, also called hyperviser, are in the pipeline from the hardware manufacturers to. AMD and Intel are courting software vendors with their Pacifica and Virtualization Technology offerings. At Gartner's Symposium and IT/xpo 2005 in San Francisco yesterday, Tom Bittman, Gartner's research director, spoke on the state of the Microsoft nation. He noted that: "Microsoft is late with hyperviser... Microsoft will ship [the first version of Longhorn], but it won't hold up the release." Microsoft would also be late in setting pricing of software running in virtual environments. But he added that Microsoft "will have to be a leader in pricing changes in the next few years". Gartner says the first Longhorn client could slip into 2007, from 2006 as promised by Microsoft, while the first Longhorn server will appear between 12 and 18 months after the client. ® Related stories AMD tells software companies to re-think dual core AMD to reveal 'Pacifica' processor virtualisation spec Intel drops 'Vanderpool' handle Novell woos CeBIT with SUSE Linux 9.3
Gavin Clarke, 19 May 2005
homeless man with sign

BEA: services up, licensing down

BEA Systems kicked-off its new fiscal year in familiar style Wednesday, with a continued fall in new licensing from its core WebLogic business. It reported a 3.4 per cent drop in business from new licensing to $116m for the first fiscal quarter while services continued their quarterly ascent, jumping 16.2 per cent to $165.7m. The company saw an overall improvement in business with net income growing 34 per cent to $34.1m on revenue that increased seven percent to $281m. Earnings per diluted share grew two cents to eight cents for the period to April 30. Chief executive Alfred Chuang called BEA's results "balanced", noting that performance in the Americas was its strongest for three years. But the results failed to satisfy Wall St analysts, who want to see a return to licensing growth. Wall St had expected $275m in sales and profit of nine cents per share. In a conference called, Chuang fielded a range of questions on new BEA products and the competitive landscape, notably the challenge posed to BEA's application server from IBM's purchase last week of open source start-up Gluecode. He said he didn't expect to see competition from Gluecode. ® Related stories Tough times for BEA Beehive pollinates Eclipse IBM moves onto JBoss turf with Gluecode buy
Gavin Clarke, 19 May 2005
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IBM and Google find each other in desktop search

Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, yesterday dismissed the notion that the company is competing head-to-head with Microsoft on the internet while launching a deal with IBM in Microsoft’s heartland of the desktop. According to Microsoft is a new entrant to internet-based services which will take 10-years to come-up to speed. Yahoo! is Google’s main competitor, he said. Speaking at Gartner’s Symposium and IT/xpo 2005, Schmidt declared: "Twenty years ago, in the PC industry, there was broad competition. It was 10 years before the industry consolidated down - it will probably take the same time in the internet space. Microsoft is a new entrant and it remains to be seen what will play out." But Google is wasting no time in taking on Microsoft at the desktop level and yesterday unveiled search technology that targets an estimated 100 million Lotus Notes seats that it has developed with IBM. Google Desktop Search for Enterprise will search Notes in addition to Office, AOL, Internet Explorer, Firefox and other file types. Google’s updated search is – again - free for download and combines searches of desktops, intranets and the internet. For IBM, the deal continues the development of cross-platform, cross-device alternatives to Windows through its On Demand Workplace strategy. Google's desktop move comes ahead of an expected ramp-up in Microsoft’s own integrated desktop and internet search capabilities for the next Windows client, Longhorn. Schmidt promised Google would compete against Microsoft on the desktop by going: “Deeper, stronger, faster and more integrated." He promised Google would continue to innovate against competitors in two areas. One is personalization - that is, knowing more about individuals' personal preferences. Schmidt joked that with six billion people on the plant Google's work is unfinished and that this remains a huge market for both Google and Yahoo!. The second area is the ability to provide comprehensive access to information in that is held in different locations and formats. Schmidt Google would like to expand the proportion of its business from sources other than online advertising - which accounts for 98 per cent of revenue, according to Gartner - but that this is unlikely to change in the near term. "The model is so broad and deep now, it's unlikely to shift for now." he said. Google's online advertising business is changing the advertising model for traditional media companies, he said. But he atopped short of saying that Google had plans to use its vast online content and knowledge-based resources to actually become a media company. ® Related stories Google offers banner ads Q1 brings nothing but good news for Google IBM brings Instant Messaging to Lotus Notes IBM fills out Lotus Workplace with Aptrix
Gavin Clarke, 19 May 2005
fingers pointing at man

IT distributors have 'compelling valuations'

It's tough being a IT distie - managing the drip-drip effect of margin squeeze, of reduced co-op marketing budgets, of vendor consolidation and seeing the month's profits wiped out by a collapsing customer. So it is nice to see that some disties are coping. In its latest channel checks, Banc of America writes: "We believe that distributors continue to play a vital role in the supply chain," Forbes.com reports. The investment house acknowledges that direct marketing companies will grow "organically faster" than the market as a whole and looks for "two-tier distributors to grow organically at around the rate of the broader IT market". Synnex and Tech Data shares are looking "particularly attractive", following a recent price correction in IT distribution stocks, it says. More at Forbes.com. Related stories Irish distie DCC cheers, a bit Bell Micro sounds a profit VIP goes ecommerce-tastic
Drew Cullen, 19 May 2005

Navicore launches UK GPS kit for Symbian

Finnish smart-phone route-planning software developer Navicore set up shop in the UK this week, pledging to shake up the consumer GPS market. Its £200 offering, which includes navigation software and street-level UK maps on a 256MB memory card, along with a "highly sensitive" Bluetooth-enabled SiRF GPS receiver, goes on sale on 1 June. Navicore's code runs right off the bundled memory card. Only 128MB are taken up with maps and software, so there's plenty of space to add extra maps covering other European countries - coming this summer on a separate, as yet unpriced CD-ROM, or on individual memory cards for £100 a pop - or other data. The GPS receiver provides up to 15 hours' usage on a single charge, Navicore said. The software runs on Symbian OS-based smart phones, with Series 60 and Series 80 user-interface support straight away and UIQ versions - for handsets like the Sony Ericsson 910i and the Motorola A1000 - coming soon after. The Series 80 version costs £250. Navicore UK chief William Morgan claimed the package was the "first quality in-car GPS navigator at a tenth of the price". We'd beg to differ. Navicore's solution is certainly a lot less expensive than some of the higher-end fixed-installation in-car units, but Medion's PocketPC-based bundle has been available for some years now, as have rival offerings from Navman, Garmin, Mio and others. These are a hundred pounds or so more expensive than Navicore, but they include a PDA in the package. Rival route-planning software developer ALK launched a version of its CoPilot last September, though it only runs on Windows Mobile-based smart phones. ALK launched at £220, also with a bundled Bluetooth-enabled GPS receiver, and a 128MB memory card. T-Mobile is bundling the package with its SDA and MDA Compact devices. Still, there are far more Symbian-based smart phones being used today than there are handsets running the Microsoft OS, and that puts Navicore in a strong position to build market share quickly. Across Western Europe, GPS has become a key purchase criterion for PDAs, and has kept the handheld market buoyant when it has slumped in other geographies. Bringing that functionality to smart phones is a more recent move but one, given the number of handsets out there already and the number that will be bought over the coming years, that has a much further consumer reach than the PDA-based segment. Navicore's bundle will initially be made available through network operator's O2's retail chain, but Morgan said the company was in talks with all the other networks and major mass-market retailers to expose the product to a broader customer base. ® Related stories Motorola smart phones to bundle navigation app MS smart phones gain in-car nav kit Related reviews Garmin iQue M5 GPS PocketPC Mio 268 GPS navigation system Navman PiN GPS PocketPC ALK CoPilot Smartphone
Tony Smith, 19 May 2005
For Sale sign detail

Gateway founder Waitt quits

Ted Waitt, chairman of Gateway, the direct PC vendor with a folksy image, is leaving the company he started. Waitt handed the CEO's role to Wayne Inouye last year. Once head to toe with arch rival Dell, the decade hasn't been kind to Gateway. Last year the company shed around 4,000 staff - it employed over 20,000 just five years ago - and closed its stores-within-stores, preferring to work directly with preferred US retail chains. The company also abandoned its forays into consumer electronics. But after a queasy acquisition of budget PC vendor eMachines, which was effectively a reverse-takeover, Gateway has stemmed quarterly losses from over $300m to $5m. Gateway received $150m last month from Microsoft to drop its lawsuit against the software giant. Antitrust trial disclosures revealed Gateway had paid more than rival OEMs to license Windows. Waitt will devote more time to his Avalon Capital Group investment fund, which focuses on nanotechnology, and his foundation. Former Gateway president Richard Snyder will assume the role of chairman. ® Related stories Gateway cuts Q1 losses to $5m Microsoft pays Gateway to go away Gateway loss balloons to $339m Gateway axes 2,500 jobs, closes US stores
Andrew Orlowski, 19 May 2005

Netscape launches version 8.0

Netscape has officially launched the latest version of its browser, Netscape 8.0, according to reports. Although the browser is based on Firefox, it also supports the Internet Explorer engine, and so will be able to render more sites than will Firefox alone. The final version also comes with a heavy emphasis on security, with built-in anti-phishing safeguards. The browser adjusts its security settings automatically, based on a regularly-updated blacklist of dangerous or malicious sites. "The browser is like a hybrid car that combines the usability of Internet Explorer with the security of Firefox," Andrew Weinstein, a spokesman for America Online/Netscape, told Reuters. Recently, Firefox's security message has been slightly tarnished, after a spate of vulnerabilities were identified in the open source browser. It remains to be seen whether this will have an impact on the uptake of the new offering from Netscape. ® Related stories Firefox loses its shine IE-only sites 'useful as chocolate teapot' Opera downloads reach 2m Firefox doubles market share as IE slips
Lucy Sherriff, 19 May 2005

BT's new wave drives 'excellent' quarter

BT appears to be coping with the loss of 100,000 phone punters a month by making giant strides in broadband and other "new wave" areas. The UK telco is weaning itself off its dependency on traditional phone services and instead turning to its "new wave" fix to keep the business moving forward. The UK's former phone monopoly saw its share of domestic UK phone customers dip from 63 per cent to 62 per cent over the year to March as more and more punters switched to rival providers such as Carphone, Tele2 and Tesco. This exodus, plus increased price competition, led to a fall in revenues from BT's traditional retail phone business from £10.77bn to £9.78bn. At the same time, turnover for the whole of the BT group rose 1 per cent to £18.62bn as it racked up pre-tax profits of £2.08bn - up four per cent on last year. Much of this revenue growth was due to the rapidly rising revenues from BT's new wave business such as ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and broadband. New wave turnover grew 32 per cent to £4.47m over the last year driven by strong growth in ICT and broadband, and now accounts for around a quarter of BT's annual revenues. Over the last three months alone broadband takings increased 61 per cent to £163m compared to last year as BT Retail racked up 1.75m high-speed end users. The total number of wholesale BT broadband lines now stands at more than five million with a record 825,000 DSL connections completed in the quarter. Chipper chief exec Ben Verwaayen described the last quarter as "excellent", adding: "We have more than doubled the number of broadband DSL connections in the year, hit the five million target a year early and are increasing broadband speeds by up to four times," he said. By mid morning shares in BT were up 4.35 per cent (8.75p) at 210p. ® Related stories BT and Sony offer free music downloads AOL UK offers phone service Marconi culls 800 jobs BT buys Cisco reseller Marconi mulls bleak future following BT bombshell BT completes Radianz buy-out
Tim Richardson, 19 May 2005
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ATI chooses 'CrossFire' for SLi-rival moniker?

ATI may have let slip the name of its upcoming multi-GPU rendering technology. On 5 May, it filed to have the phrase 'ATI CrossFire' and the word 'CrossFire' registered as trademarks. Of course, the registration could have nothing to do with ATI's answer to Nvidia's SLi, but the word it's attempting to trademark has a certain resonance with what ATI is trying to achieve. It clearly has gaming connotations, and the idea of converged gunfire works as a metaphor for images rendered by multiple GPUs coming together. You can imagine the 'Get caught in CrossFire' ad slogans already. ATI's multi-GPU system is expected to be launched shortly, possibly as early as next week we hear, with a formal outing at Computex Taipei the week after. ATI may also launch its R520 chip next week, though some reports talk of its shipping much later in the year. Either way, it's likely the R520 will support CrossFire - if such is its name. It has been claimed recently that ATI's system requires only one card to support it - the 'slave' card can be any relatively recent ATI board. The system is believed to use a tile-based rendering system to reduce board-to-board bandwidth requirements and better partition the c-operative rendering. With tiles, it's much easier to allow for a much less powerful slave, rather than simply allot 50 per cent of the image to each GPU. ATI is also expected to announce updated AMD and Intel-oriented chipset products next month. ® Related stories Crytek: new ATI chip will support Shader 3.0 Nvidia posts record revenues Nvidia to launch G70 'at Computex' ATI Tech weakness hands opportunity to Nvidia ATI multi-card rendering details emerge Intel snatches mobile graphics lead from ATI ATI top-end GPUs to win back 'channel leadership' ATI to update AMD, Intel chipsets 'in June'
Tony Smith, 19 May 2005
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WD ships 300MBps SATA II drive

Western Digital has begun shipping desktop hard drives supporting the Serial ATA II standard, the hard drive specialist said yesterday. It also launched a pair of external drives pitched at case-modders and consumers, respectively. The 250GB Caviar SE16 drive provides a burst data transfer rate of 300MBps - three times faster than IDE drives, WD claimed. The unit also features 16MB of cache memory and spins at 7200rpm. WD's WhisperDrive technology ensures it doesn't drown out gameplay, the company claimed. Separately, WD announced a redesigned version of its clear-cased Extreme Lighted Series II external hard drive, taking the capacity up to 320GB into the bargain courtesy of a WD Caviar SE drive. The unit incorporates Firewire and USB 2.0 interfaces. Users can select which colour they want the unit to glow, or have the drive automatically cycle through all the available hues, quickly or slowly. The WD NetCenter is a more sober product, providing low-cost network-attached storage to allow offices and homes to share data among multiple computers, and to back them all up. The unit will be offered in a range of capacities from 160GB to 320GB, delivered by a 7200rpm Caviar SE drive with an 8MB cache. The SE16 SATA II unit is shipping now, WD said, for $200. The NetCenter and Extreme Lighted units go on sale in June in the US for $400 and $300, respectively. The external units come with a one-year warranty, the SE16 with three years' cover. ® Related stories Cornice to stop making 1-2GB 1in HDDs Seagate, Hitachi launch 1in 6GB HDDs Maxtor to axe more US jobs Hitachi brings IDE to 1.8in HDD line Western Digital hops on 1in HDD bandwagon WD ups Caviar HDD capacity, lowers thermals
Tony Smith, 19 May 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

TSG buys another Scottish reseller

Technology Services Group has bought Edinburgh Microsystems Centre (EMC), a specialist Sage reseller with 150 customers, for an undisclosed sum. It takes on former MD Martin Booth and the six-strong team who will transfer to the firm’s Edinburgh office. And it says that the acquisition will give it a leading edge in Sage software throughout the east of Scotland. The acquisitive reseller, set up by Sage co-founder Graham Wylie in 2003, notes that EMC is its second acquisition in the three weeks since landing £25m funding through Lloyds TSB corporate. ® Related stories TSG buys Yorks dealer TSG secures £25m facility for takeover trail TSG buys Leeds reseller TSG buys Scottish dealer Sage co-founder goes to Glasgow Sage founder buys Nordic Data
Team Register, 19 May 2005
For Sale sign detail

UK banks ignore security audit findings

Some UK corporates routinely ignore the findings of security audits treating them solely as a necessary step to satisfy corporate governance regulations, according to an experienced penetration tester. Tim Ecott, managing consultant at security integrator Integralis, explained that banks and other financial institutions are told they have to carry out a penetration test to comply with audits. In some cases - perhaps five per cent - Ecott and his team discover the same faults every time. "The findings of our reports are not followed up on either by the firms themselves or their auditors. We're not talking about critical security flaws but certainly about things that need fixing and leave firms open to attack," he said. "Some of our clients take our report to pieces and do every thing we advise but with others, it's the same things over and over again. Reports over a period of quarters could be copies of each other with just a different date," Ecott told El Reg. In some cases companies lack the resources to put things right; and often getting new applications up on running is given priority, leaving security concerns neglected, he said. "Firms need to think about security at the beginning of projects rather than as an afterthought. Security and business objectives need to be linked." ® Related stories Tough local laws drive corporate security Over-compliance is the new compliance, says former SEC Chairman Sarbanes Oxley for IT security? Tough local laws drive corporate security Anti Sarbanes-Oxley mood rises in Europe Corporate governance goals impossible - RSA
John Leyden, 19 May 2005

Xbox 360 retail price could be higher than expected

Goldman Sachs maintained an "outperform" rating on Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people) after meeting senior management late Tuesday. "Microsoft observed that the upcoming Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people) PS3 appears to be a powerful box similar to Xbox 360, but believes that [it] will have an important time-to-market advantage with a head start on next-generation content, which takes time to fully leverage the capabilities of the console." Goldman Sachs expects the Home and Entertainment division of Microsoft to break even at the end of fiscal 2007. The research outfit said that this "will depend on competitive pricing by Sony, but we feel this is probably about right, resulting in the elimination of about a 5% drag on overall Microsoft earnings." Goldman Sachs expects Microsoft will move approximately 3 million Xbox 360 units in the December quarter, "with demand exceeding supply". Goldman noted that the console could be sold at a retail price that is more than it had expected. "With the worldwide availability in the December quarter, likely strong initial demand, and the added cost of the hard drive [estimated at $30], we might see a higher initial price." Meanwhile, there is speculation that the Xbox 360 could be compatible with the iPod from Apple Computer (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people) More articles from Forbes.com Video: Sega Struts Stuff At E3 HP's Quality Of Earnings 'Arguably Deteriorating' Most Expensive Star Wars Memorabilia Star Wars Vs. Star Trek HP 'Still Searching For An Identity'
Forbes.com, 19 May 2005

Californian boffins plot piracy-proof DVD players

Piracy was abolished back in the 21st Century, my children, when the world's DVD players learned to rat on their owners. That, at least, is one possible outcome of a University of California, Los Angeles campus research project to equip DVDs with RFID tags that prevent purchases lending discs to chums. According to a Wired News report, researchers led by engineering professor Rajit Gadh have devised a scheme in which buyers provide biometric data at the point of purchase, that information is encoded on the DVD's RFID tag, which is then locked to prevent the data being changed. Pop the DVD in a player not registered to the user, and the disc won't play. We've heard of this kind of thing before, and while it makes for a fun research project, it's value in the real world is thankfully highly limited. The only winner is Hollywood, and it would have to persuade not only player makers but also disc makers, disc retailers and, ultimately, consumers to support the scheme. You can count consumers out immediately, but retailers aren't going to be happy about installing yet more kit that they'll (a) have to pay for and (b) teach typical retail operatives how to use. And all it takes is for one player maker to refuse to install an RFID reader in their DVD device, and the plan becomes redundant. You could argue that a future disc standard could mandate the use of RFID technology. But the DVD standard mandates region control, but there are still plenty of players out there, many of them from well-known names, that allow you to play discs bought anywhere in the world. Back to the drawing board, guys... ® Related stories PSP disc protection cracked US reveals intellectual property blacklist Congress confuses file sharing with manslaughter Movie industry settles DVD chips case Moscow prosecutor lets low-cost MP3 site off the hook Cryptographers to Hollywood: prepare to fail on DRM SunnComm fixes 'Shift Key' embarrassment Macrovision gives forth on DRM
Tony Smith, 19 May 2005

eBay comes to cable TV

CommentComment The consumer electronics and computer industries could have saved themselves many billions of dollars if they'd remembered why people watch TV. Panicked by apocalyptic warnings of attention-deficit computer types, they threw their energies into making TV more "interactive" - with predictable for program quality and usability. But the dream dies hard. Last week the BBC announced that it would allow bored computer owners to "remix" its news. Bill Gates insists that the future of TV is a split screen, with the broadcast program on one side and a page of classified Google ads on another. And former US Vice President Al Gore has announced his backing for a youth-orientated cable channel which, he promises, will flash a random sequence of Google search results at the viewer every thirty minutes. Quite why anyone, young or old, would welcome an interruption to their favorite program from a blizzard of Viagra spam, weblog trackbacks and empty catalog pages wasn't explained. What's wrong with these people? Must we make doses of Ritalin or Xanax mandatory for the directors and chief executives of US computer companies, and HTML coders? However, there are a few TV formats that do lend themselves to interactivity, and the auction is just one. Time Warner will today allow its cable customers to participate in eBay auctions using a standard remote control - no other hardware is necessary. The trial is limited to Austin, Texas, and users must initiate the bid on their computer. But the progress of the auction can be followed, and further bids can be made. It isn't clear yet whether scammed auctioners will be able to appeal to eBay from the comfort of the sofa, but that's the next logical upgrade. Time Warner says it will monitor the trial, which was done without eBays' direct involvement. It isn't quite "convergence", but then who cares? The less the internet and TV converge, the healthier they both are. ® Related stories Gates: PC will replace TV, TV will become a giant Google 'Clicks and bricks' trick tempts window shoppers High Definition and the future of viewing Interactive urinal cake aimed at ravers, C&W fans
Andrew Orlowski, 19 May 2005

eBay sitting on the old Gumtree.com

eBay has is expanding its international classifieds business with the acquisition of UK-based Gumtree.com for an undisclosed sum. The deal was transacted through Kijiji, eBay's international classifieds business. Founded in 2000 at the height of the dotcom boom, Gumtree.com offers city-based online communities with loads of local info on matters such as accommodation, jobs and where to eat and drink. Its sites cover areas in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Kijiji - which means "village" in Swahili - does much the same in 90 cities across Europe and the Far East. ® Related stories eBay hails reverse auctions success Burgled mum finds stolen iPod on eBay Power outage floors eBay Teen eBay fraudster sentenced to 12 months
Tim Richardson, 19 May 2005

Samsung prototype promises super-skinny TVs

Samsung is gearing up to show off a prototype 40-inch, single-sheet, organic light emitting diode (OLED) screen, paving the way for super-skinny TV sets just over an inch thick. According to CNet, the prototype screen has a 1,280 x 800-pixel resolution and a maximum brightness of 600 NITs, a non-standard measurement of brightness equal to one candela per square metre. The company plans to combine its larger OLED displays with the results of its research into field emission displays. These television displays use a phosphor coating as the emissive medium, but do not rely on a single electron gun, as with CRT displays. Instead they use an array of fine metal tips, or carbon nanotubes. One point is positioned behind a phosphor dot. The attraction of the technology is obvious. As well as being incredibly thin, OLEDs have better resolution than liquid crystal displays, and consume less power, since they don't need a backlight. They are already widely used in mobile phones and other small screen devices, but problems with the stability of colour OLED displays has meant they haven't really made much headway into the larger screen markets. But this is not Samsung's first foray into larger OLED screens. Last year the company demonstrated a 14.1-inch OLED panel with 1,280 x 768 pixel resolution, followed by a 21-inch high-definition screen, with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The new screen will see the light of day next week, at the Society of Information Display 2005 International Symposium, Seminar and Exhibition in Boston. ® Related stories Xerox moots roll-your-own monitor Sony denies plasma TV pull-out Sony, Samsung agree to share toys
Lucy Sherriff, 19 May 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

FTC wants to tweak CAN-SPAM Act

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is consulting on proposed changes to the CAN-SPAM Act. These clarify the steps by which a recipient can opt-out of receiving spam, and reduce the time limit for honouring an opt-out request. The CAN-SPAM Act, also known as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, came into effect in January 2004. Despite its name the CAN-SPAM Act fails to actually "can" spam. There is no ban on sending unsolicited commercial -mail or text messages. Instead, it requires that spam sent to consumers includes a means of opting-out of the mailing list used by the sender. The Act also provides for a national Do-Not-Spam list, bans the sending of fraudulent emails or unmarked sexually oriented e-mails, and provides for civil and criminal sanctions for those spammers who breach the rules. The penalties may amount to fines of $6 million and five years in prison in the most severe cases. Critics have accused the Act of being narrow and weak, accusations that may be hard to deny given that the US sends more spam than any other, according to a recent report by anti-virus firm Sophos. Its April 2005 report claimed that the US was responsible for an average of 35.7 per cent of all spam caught in its filters between January and March this year – albeit down on last August's figure from Sophos, which suggested that the US was responsible for over 42 per cent of the world’s spam. The FTC is in the process of making amendments to its rules for enforcing the Act and seeks comments on its proposals by 27 June. These include clarifying the definitions of the terms “person” and “sender” – to help in cases where multiple parties are advertising in a single e-mail message – and “valid physical postal addresses”. It is also proposing to shorten from 10 days to three the time a sender may take before honouring a recipient's opt-out request; and to ensure that when submitting a valid opt-out request, a recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her email address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply email message or visiting a single web page. © Pinsent Masons 2000 - 2005 See: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (31-page PDF) Related stories Police chief withstands spam blitz AOL seeks to block phishing sites 20 busted in e-pharmacy takedown Save us from spam Netizens learning to tolerate spam - study Nine years in slammer for US spammer US tops junk mail list of shame - again
OUT-LAW.COM, 19 May 2005
Cat 5 cable

TDK touts 100GB recordable Blu-ray Disc

There's an Onion article we rather liked a while back that neatly lampooned the shaver business, in which Gilette, frustrated by Wilkinson Sword's move to three-blade razors, promptly shouts: "F**k 'em - we're going to five blades." A similar war - real this time - appears to be breaking out between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD) proponents. Desperate to get HD DVD's capacity up to something closer to its rival's, Toshiba last week unveiled a three-layer disc that can hold 45GB. Now - with more than a little 'f**k you!' implied if not stated - TDK has announced a four-layer BD. The beast holds up to 100GB of data. More to the point, it's recordable, and according to TDK, can support a write-speed double that of today's 50GB BD-Rs - or 6x (216Mbps), in other words. The disc uses TDK's Durabis coating, announced last January, which finally allows BDs to be used without a protective cartridge, though they remain rather less resilient to scratches than DVDs. Getting discs up to 100GB and beyond - 200GB appears to be the limit - was always part of the Blu-ray plan. TDK has talked about making 100GB BDs in the past. Alas, today's announcement, made in Japanese-language newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun, gives no indication as to when these discs might actually appear on the market. ® Related stories Toshiba unveils 45GB HD DVD 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 Apple backs Blu-ray Alliance touts holographic disc 'revolution' Game firms back Blu-ray Blu-ray Disc maker to 'abolish cartridges'
Tony Smith, 19 May 2005

China hits net gambling hard

More than 1,300 people have been detained in Shanghai after Chinese authorities continued to clampdown on internet gambling. Two of those arrested on Tuesday were on a national list of "most wanted" and collared in connection with running online gambling services. Net cafes, night-clubs and homes were raided as part of the crackdown, reported Xinhua Online. In January, police in China arrested 600 people and seized CNY23m (£1.5m) as part of a countrywide crackdown on illegal online gambling. In all, some 220 people were detained in a series of raids on a "clandestine internet-based gambling company". Police claim the Taiwan-based gambling outfit had been working with criminals in China for almost a year. ® Related stories China shuts 12,500 'illegal' cybercafes China nabs 600 in online gambling raids China bans The Sims China fearful of net
Tim Richardson, 19 May 2005

FA cries foul over internet streaming pirates

Premier League bosses have blown the whistle on fans who stream live footage from games without permission. Football chiefs are considering whether to take sites to court in a bid to clamp down on the practice. Overseas broadcasts of live games are been relayed through the net in a move which potentially erodes the value of expensive broadcast rights. Dan Johnson, an FA Premier League spokesman, said that wider adoption of broadband technology has made broadcasting coverage of games live over the net a viable proposition. "It's something we became aware of six months ago. Basically we were seeing people infringing our rights with streaming. We're now considering taking one of those sites to court to make an example of them - and to set a precedent," Johnson told the BBC. Although the FA offers licences for delayed streaming of games over the net and onto 3G mobile phones it does not currently offer licences to broadcast live over the net, partly because clubs are concerned this might diminish gate receipts by encouraging fans to stay away from games. Watching games live over the net remains a fringe activity used by only an estimated 50,000 fans a week, The Times reports. But the league wants to nip the issue in bud before the practice of watching unlicensed football coverage on the net takes off. Word of sites offering streaming gets passed around through football message boards and in chat forums. Fans pay a small fee of a few pounds to watch games. Once the league became aware of the problem it hired technology firm NetResult to locate and shut down offending sites. NetResult has shut down 50 sites but as soon as it clamps down on one site a new one pops up in its place, with a slightly different name and sometimes run by the same people. For this reason the FA has begun considering its legal options in fighting net piracy. ® Related stories Football League clubs to offer Wi-Fi 3 UK to show footy highlights 3 ties up Sky Sports content deal EC probes mobile sports right sales Premiership football comes to broadband
John Leyden, 19 May 2005

Campaigners quiz Google on China play

Reporters without borders - aka Reporters sans Frontiers (RSF) - has taken Google to task for its baby steps towards setting up business in China. The organisation, which campaigns across the globe for the freedom of the press, and "denounces violations of the human rights", has written to Google's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, demanding a clear indication as to whether or not Google will censor its search results at Beijing's behest. Google told us earlier this month that the license it has been granted merely covers opening a representative office from which it will conduct proper market research. It told RSF the same thing. RSF is not satisfied with this side-step, however, and clearly want something more from the search engine. Robert Ménard, secretary-general of RSF expresses his thoughts in the letter to Google, like this: "You say the role of office you will open in China will initially be limited to researching the Chinese market. We nonetheless think you should confront certain ethical issues right from the start of this initiative. Reporters Without Borders therefore asks you to give a clear response now to the following question: will you agree to censor your search engine if asked to by Beijing?" The organisation also says that recent moves from the search company "have led us to fear that your commitment to respect freedom of expression is giving way to commercial logic". It cites the acquisition of Chinese search engine, Baidu, which filters its search results as one example, and Google's agreement to withdraw from its Chinese news search facility "news media considered 'subversive' by Beijing". "We simply ask you to reject self-censorship," the letter continues. "If the Chinese authorities want to block access to certain websites, they must do it themselves. Indeed, they do block many sites. But we would find it extremely disturbing if you yourselves were to participate in the Chinese government's policy of suppressing press freedom." RSF argues that Google is big enough to stand by its principles, and says that it expects a more courageous stance from Google that was displayed by Yahoo!, which bowed to censorship demands. ® Related stories Google goes to China Chinese government censors online games Google's Ethics Committee revealed
Lucy Sherriff, 19 May 2005

Orange postpones Wildfire closure

Orange has been forced to delay the scrapping of its Wildfire voice recognition system by four weeks after being rocked by criticism from unhappy punters. The mobilephoneco had blamed "declining numbers" for its decision to ditch Wildfire at the end of May. But after much public criticism of its decision - especially from blind and visually impaired users who rely on Wildfire to make their calls - Orange agreed to postpone the closure of the voice activated digital personal assistant for a month. Orange is also offering its visually impaired punters free TALKS voice recognition software as a replacement for its Wildfire service. A spokesman for the company told The Register: "The closure of Wildfire has been delayed by four weeks and is now due for closure on 1 July. This is to ensure that our customer with sensory disabilities have time to transfer to the TALKS voice recognition software package we are offering as a replacement service." Despite this offer, there are still plenty of people unhappy at the way Orange has handled its decision to close of Wildfire. A campaign web site set up to lobby Orange has received a steady stream of comments from customers hacked off at the company's heavy-handed approach. It's even become a sounding board for one "Orange employee" lamenting at the way the company has "gone down hill drastically over the last three years". While campaigners continue to lobby Orange, there is at least one punter who remains optimistic. After complaining to Orange he received the following email: "Orange can confirm that it is no longer offering the majority of its customer base the voice-recognition answerphone service Wildfire. Existing Wildfire customers will still be able to use the service to the same high standard and we will continue to offer Wildfire to visually impaired customers who request the service. However, the service will no longer be available to the majority of our customers. "Orange is currently developing a number of similar voice-recognition services which are due to be released in the next 12 months. These will be delivered as a portfolio of 'needs-based' services allowing customers to mix and match the level of voice-recognition integration they require. Therefore, it would not make sense to continue offering Wildfire to customers with the new services being released shortly." ® Related stories Orange blasted for extinguishing Wildfire Orange snuffs out Wildfire Orange and Microsoft push data at business
Tim Richardson, 19 May 2005

Joe Public cools to eGov projects

Investment in e-government doesn't seem to have had the desired effect, if a new MORI poll is to be believed. Although the £2.5bn invested in improving access to information and services has undoubtedly transformed the way some local authorities do business, overall satisfaction with local authorities was found to have dropped 10 per cent over the last three years. Performance management outfit Perspective Solutions, says that a focus on technology and delivery of services has come at the expense of usability. "E-government is failing to engage UK citizens because of a lack of internet access as well as systems that are often unusable and overly complex, as anyone who has tried to file tax returns online via the Inland Revenue or looked for information on a local government website can testify," says Phil Reed, CEO of Perspective Solutions. He argues that e-government initiatives are failing to meet their two main objectives: reducing the cost of local services and making the services more accessible to local citizens. "Technology has to be seen as a tool for achieving better public sector services, not an end result in itself. Otherwise, e-Government can never succeed," Reed concludes. Reed's criticisms seem a little harsh, especially given the good work than some councils are doing: making it possible for people to pay council tax online, or setting up webcams so people can check for queues at the local dump before setting out with a load of old furniture, for example. But this kind of progress is not universal. We assume Perspective Solutions has just the piece of software to sort out those councils who are less on the ball. It'd be astonishing if they didn't, really. ® Related stories Over-compliance is the new compliance, says former SEC Chairman Local authorities offered outsourcing benchmarks Microsoft encourages app-swapping councils
Lucy Sherriff, 19 May 2005
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Broadcom broadsides Qualcomm with wireless chip IP lawsuit

Broadcom has slapped Qualcomm with a lawsuit, alleging that its rival infringed on 10 patents tied to processing wired and wireless communications. There were two complaints filed Wednesday by Broadcom in the US District Court for the Central District of California and another complaint filed today with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). Broadcom is seeking compensation for the alleged patent violations and an injunction against Qualcomm's production and sale of the products in question - in this case "baseband and RF (radio frequency) integrated circuits." A Qualcomm spokesman said the company has yet to receive the lawsuit and declined to comment at this time. "We believe that Qualcomm's current and next generation cellular baseband and radio frequency (RF) product lines infringe a number of our patents," said Broadcom's CEO Scott McGregor. Broadcom's main concern revolves around its technology for adding multimedia features to future cellphones. The company has chips that help deliver TV, MP3, VoIP, push-to-talk and PVR (personal video recording) functions to these phones. "The communications industry is in the early stages of converging GSM and CDMA networks into a unified 3G network, which has the potential to enable more efficient voice and new high bandwidth data services that will drive a new generation of portable devices," McGregor said "Over more than a decade, Broadcom has assembled a portfolio of communications and related technologies unmatched in its breadth and depth, presenting us with compelling opportunities as we help drive the convergence of various technologies and features into next generation smart cell phones." In the complaint filed with the ITC, Broadcom alleges that "Qualcomm has engaged in unfair trade practices by importing integrated circuits and other products that infringe five Broadcom patents." The ITC has been asked to investigate Qualcomm on these charges. The investigation should begin in late June with the California trial starting in early 2006, according to Broadcom. ® Related stories IEEE rejects Nokia-backed next-gen Wi-Fi proposal Intel won't play by China's Wi-Fi rules Qualcomm unveils next generation boss Qualcomm: WiMax isn't magic TI delivers on single-chip promise Global 3G boost for Qualcomm
Ashlee Vance, 19 May 2005

Fujitsu pumps Solaris servers with speedy new Sparc

Fujitsu has added some muscle to its PrimePower server line by outfitting systems with a 2.08GHz version of its Sparc64 V chip. Fujitsu will include the new chip in five of its PrimePower models, including the 128-processor, big daddy PrimerPower 2500. Previous systems were running on Sparc64s that ranged from 1.35GHz to 1.89GHz. Fujitsu, like Sun Microsystems, makes its own Sparc processor and runs the Solaris operating system on its boxes. The company also sells Xeon-based systems and occasionally moves an Itanium-based server. Along with the PrimePower 2500, customers will find the speedier Sparc64 V chip in the 1500, 900, 850 and 650 models. The 2500, 1500 and 900 boxes sit at the high-end of the PrimePower line, while the 650 and 850 systems are midrange, rackmount systems that hold between 2 and 16 processors. In the coming years, Fujitsu and Sun will standardize on the Sparc64 chip and produce midrange and high-end Solaris servers together. The companies hope to share chip development and system production costs. Sun, which cancelled production of its UltraSparc V chip, will still make its own versions of Sparc for lower-end systems aimed at web and application serving. Fujitsu last month announced new Itanium-based PrimeQuest systems that will start shipping in June. The company moved 2 Itanium servers in 2003 and 233 Itanium-based servers in 2004, according to Gartner. It's hard to imagine those 235 boxes covered the cost of Fujitsu's Itanium marketing material.® Related stories Fujitsu Siemens unveils PRIMEQUEST Fujitsu seals £170m deal with Lloyds TSB Fujitsu Siemens bullish on '05 Sun's Becky Box four-pack leaks Rare Dell critics spotted circling over Austin Fujitsu says size doesn't matter in Itanium server game Intel misses Itanium sales mark by $26.6bn IBM dominates dull Q4 server market Sun adds speed and Fujitsu to server line
Ashlee Vance, 19 May 2005

Wal-Mart cedes DVD rental biz to Netflix for a plug

Super, hyper, global, mega store Wal-Mart has given up on renting DVDs via the mail, deciding instead to form a partnership with upstart Netflix. Wal-Mart will turn over its DVD rental customers to Netflix. In exchange, Netflix will plug DVDs that Wal-Mart has put up for sale on its web site. Existing Wal-Mart customers can become Netflix members at their current monthly rate of $12.97 (for two movies out at a time), if they sign up for a year's worth of the service. Most of Netflix's customers shell out $17.99 per month to have three movies out at a time. In the requisite shared love quotation, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, "This agreement bolsters both Netflix's leadership in DVD movie rentals and Wal-Mart's strong movie sales business, while providing customers even more choices and convenience." This is surely a blow for Wal-Mart which has tried hard to craft new online markets for selling items such as low-cost Linux PCs and songs. None of these businesses, however, seem to be doing terribly well. In our experience, Wal-Mart's DVD rental service suffered from a lack of efficiency, taking much longer than Netflix to send out new titles. As word of the deal broke, shares of of Netflix jumped as much as 32 percent in pre-market trading. Investors, however, recoiled a bit after Netflix issued a statement saying the Wal-Mart customer infusion would not have a material impact on its business or subscriber growth. Netflix ended the day up more than 4 percent at $16.13 - still well off its 52-week high of $36.57. A number of reports pegged Wal-Mart's DVD rental subscriber count at close to 100,000 people. By contrast, Netflix has close to 3m subscribers. Shared rival Blockbuster tried to counter Netflix's win by offering a deal to Walmart.com and Netflix subscribers of two free months of rentals and a free DVD if they'll switch stores. ® Related stories Movie downloads will be a big business... but for whom? High Definition and the future of viewing Amazon UK rents DVDs TiVo loses its MoJo Netflix delays UK launch
Ashlee Vance, 19 May 2005