6th > June > 2005 Archive

hands waving dollar bills in the air

Apple to announce Intel 'Switch' - WSJ

Apple Computer will announce its own 'Switch' campaign today, migrating away from the PowerPC architecture that has served it for a decade, the Wall Street Journal reports. The migration will take several years, with the first Intel-based Macs appearing next year, according to briefings Apple has given its partners. Intel CEO Paul Otellini - a house guest of Apple CEO Steve Jobs in the past - may join Jobs on stage at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference later today. Motorola's chips have been at the heart of Apple's systems since the Mac launched with the 68000 inside, and the company has used traditionally this as a differentiator - shunning the economies of scale in chip and chipsets, and the co-marketing dollars Intel offers its OEMs. Apple currently sources G4 processors for its notebooks and budget machines from Motorola's chip subsidiary Freescale, and G5 processors from IBM. But the differentiator has grown less important over the past five years with low power consumption viewed as increasingly important if PCs are to be successful in consumer electronics. And Apple has been doubly cursed in its attempts to stay competitive with Intel and AMD. Motorola failed to keep its G4 processor architecture competitive, obliging Apple to overclock the chip, removing its power efficiencies. And when a modern processor finally arrived in the shape of the IBM 970, a POWER4 derivative, it proved to large and inefficient for notebooks or budget systems. Intel's Pentium-M processor, a chip based on the Pentium III core which dynamically regulates its clock speed from 300Mhz up according to system demand, finally gives Apple an alternative. Migration poses several problems for Apple and its developers, but far fewer than 12 years ago when Apple first completed a port of the Mac OS to Intel that was never released. Former Apple CEO John Sculley recently described his refusal to move to Intel even earlier, in the late 1980s, as one of his biggest mistakes. But as we discussed here, it's likely that the main casualty in a migration back then would have been Apple itself. Today's Mac OS is portable by design, and thanks to its NeXT expertise, the company is well versed in optimizing 'Fat binaries' which run on several processor architectures. Industry sources also say Apple is a licensee of Transitive's QuickTransit virtual processor technology, which allows anything to run on Intel x86 (and vice versa) via dynamic instruction translation. The hardest part of the move will be convincing IBM to continue investing in the 970 processor for its servers and high performance desktops, and porting professional dependent on the Freescale's Altivec instruction set. For some of the more tribal Apple loyalists, becoming an Intel OEM may be hard fact to swallow. But there's no where else to go. For the mainstream PC buyer it promises lower cost systems running Apple's virus-free operating system. Intel CEO Paul Otellini recently said that given a straight choice, he'd opt for the malware-light Mac, as he spends an hour a week removing nasties from his daughter's Windows PC. ® Related stories Sly Intel CEO warns that Apple is the safer computer buy Apple in 'talks with Intel' Newspaper shows Mac OS X running on Intel box Sculley explains how he missed the chance to trash Apple
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Jun 2005

ICSTIS bars rogue dialler operator

Emergency powers have been used to crack down on an overseas rogue dialler operator ripping off UK punters. Baba Communications Inc - based in the Republic of Panama - secretly installed its dialler software on consumers' PCs so that they racked up massive phone bills with calls costing £1.50 a minute. Premium rate watchdog ICSTIS received 439 complaints about the Baba Communications scam. The watchdog fined the operator £100,000 and barred access to it for two years. The problem of rogue dialler software was highlighted last month after BT revealed it had received more than 80,000 complaints about internet diallers. As part of efforts to combat crooks, the telco has developed modem protection software which warns customers if their dial-up modem tries to call any numbers other than those on an "approved" list. ® Related stories BT cracks down on rogue diallers Telcos act to squeeze out 'few rotten apples' UK phone scammers yet to pay fines Watchdog fines prize call telco £100k MP gets police to investigate BT over rogue dialler scams 16 scammers fined £1.3m BT to block rogue diallers - again
Tim Richardson, 06 Jun 2005

Sweden takes big stick to file-sharers

Sweden's anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån (APB) has reported 200 people to the police for breaking copyright laws by exchanging music, games and films online, according to Sweden's The Local. APB has issued over 400,000 warning letters to suspected file-sharers. However, the agency itself is under fire too. Over 1,000 people have reported ABP to the Swedish authorities for breaking personal data laws by collecting IP addresses. Because it needs approval from the Swedish Data Inspection Board, APB has decided to temporarily halt using its own data collection software and report suspects directly to the police, claiming it has "other methods than storing IP addresses for tracing people". The Swedish parliament has just passed a law - effective as of 1 July - banning all file-sharing. The record industry claims that because of file-sharing, the sale of CDs and music in Sweden has slumped for the third year running. Last year sales declined by a massive 17 per cent. Fortunately for file swappers, there are now some alternatives. Scandinavians can at last start legally downloading music from Apple's iTunes. Sweden was among the last European countries to get the service, apparently because it still (along with Switzerland, Norway and Denmark) runs its own currency. ® Related stories Scandinavia gets tough on file sharing Lycos Germany bins IP address data Dutch anti-piracy unit targets ISPs
Jan Libbenga, 06 Jun 2005

Dell promises posh PCs

Dell, often promoted as a value PC provider, is pursuing posher punters with the launch of a "luxury" range of computers. The firm has yet to decide on a brand name but the machines will be available this autumn. Desktop and notebooks will be priced between $1,200 and $3,500. Mike George, vice president of consumer business for Dell US, told Cnet: "Consider this the Lexus of our line-up." He described the target market as "mass luxury". The machines will also include different form factors apart from the traditional desktops, laptops and towers. The company believes there are an increasing number of customers seeking high-end machines and no natural place for them to go to buy them. George told the FT he hoped such luxury models could eventually make up between 10 and 20 per cent of Dell's consumer sales. The smarter machines will also come with better online service and support - described by Dell as "white glove". ® Related stories Dell red-faced over salesman's Lenovo jibes Dell chief Rollins describes market as 'ideal' for company Dell keeps double-digit growth groove going in Q1
John Oates, 06 Jun 2005

Scientists closer to Ebola and Marburg vaccines

Researchers in the US and Canada have developed vaccines that protect monkeys against the Ebola and Marburg viruses. Further testing in the next five years will show whether the vaccines can be safe and effective for humans, but the researchers are optimistic. It is the first hint of a vaccine for Marburg virus. The research, published in Nature Medicine this weekend, suggests that the vaccines raise the chance of surviving the highly contagious diseases to around 80 per cent. Currently, the vast majority of those who contract either disease will die, and because of the way they are transmitted, (by blood, sweat and saliva), those caring for the sick run a very high risk of becoming ill themselves. The World Heath Organisation reports that an outbreak of Marburg disease in Angola that began in late March 2005, had killed 335 of the 399 people who were infected by 27 May. The researchers at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba, began by testing their vaccine on rodents. The team created the vaccine by replacing a protein in an animal virus with a protein from the Ebola and Marburg viruses. The next step was to move to primates, with the help of the US Army. The Army's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease in Maryland vaccinated the monkeys, and the four weeks later, injected them with the viruses. The monkeys survived the tests. Because of the similarity between the way the diseases affect monkeys and humans, the researchers are now hopeful that the vaccines will work for us too. Steven Jones, a scientist involved in the study, told Reuters: "Monkeys, when they are infected, suffer almost the identical disease to humans. If we can protect them using this vaccine ... then this gives us a good deal of confidence that this will work in humans." ® Related stories Bird flu: we're all going to die Gates pledges extra $250m for world health Gates pledges $750m for child vaccines
Lucy Sherriff, 06 Jun 2005

Ofcom to reject 'mobile price cuts'

Ofcom looks unlikely to force mobile phone operators to cut their prices - for the time-being at least. According to newspaper reports, the giant communications regulator is expected this week to begin consulting the industry once again about pricing and other mobile matters. Last year it ordered mobilephonecos to slash the cost of calls by around 30 per cent after a long running investigation with the then regulator Oftel. At the time the cut in termination charges - which apply to mobile network operators' wholesale charges for connecting incoming calls to their networks - ended a regulatory saga that has dragged on for six years. Speaking a year ago Ofcom chief exec Stephen Carter said that the decision "closes a lengthy process, where we have concluded that price controls are currently a necessary market mechanism". According to The Independent, Ofcom looks set to recommend that those price cuts - which had to be introduced by March 2005 - remain in place until 2007. The move is expected to cheer shareholders and anger consumers since some operators had feared that Ofcom might use this consultation to impose further price cuts instead. No one from Ofocm was available for comment at the time of writing. ® Related stories Ofcom orders mobile phone charge cut mmO2: Competition Commission squeezes profits mm02 warns of revenue queeze Mobile networks lose Oftel price cuts appeal Oftel restates call for mobile phone charge cut
Tim Richardson, 06 Jun 2005

UK would tag all vehicles in road pricing scheme

UK government proposals to introduce pay-as-you-go road charges within 10 years have produced a mixed reaction. The scheme would replace road tax and fuel duty with variable charges for using Britain's roads, with satellite tracking technology used to calculate bills. Travelling on the busiest routes, such as the M25, at rush hour, would cost up to £1.43 a mile but travel on rural roads could cost as little as 2p per mile at off-peak times. If implemented, the programme would become the world's most advanced road pricing scheme. But a far less ambitious scheme to introduce road pricing for lorries is already behind schedule raising questions about the feasibility of a programme to tag, track and tax all UK vehicles. Vehicle numbers have swelled to 30 million, from 20 million in 1990, and the government is looking for radical schemes to control future traffic levels. Simply building more roads is thought unlikely to reduce congestion. Last year, a Department for Transport (DfT) feasibility study concluded that a UK-wide road pricing scheme had the potential to halve congestion. But experts warn that road pricing would simply displace cars onto smaller roads rather than encouraging people to take alternative forms of transport. Even if technical barriers could be overcome road pricing remains highly controversial politically. Terence Bendixson, secretary of the Independent Transport Commission (ITC) at the University of Southampton, warned of a Poll Tax-style revolt if the government fails to convince drivers that the charge is "fair and reasonable". Sue Nicholson, of motorists group the RAC Foundation, told the BBC that the government's plans were worth considering. "It's potentially a way forward out of the congestion problems that we face. Providing this tax was substitution to fuel tax and road tax rather than additional and provided we had some other guarantees then I think, for a lot of people, this would be a tempting option," she said. Transport Secretary Alistair Darling is due to detail the government's proposals in a speech on Thursday, 9 June. ® Related stories The M25 area road price plan - a power play from Mayor Ken? Congestion charge planned within M25 area London's charge zone: blueprint for road pricing 'success'? Think tank recommends satellite road charging for UK Number plate recognition poised for national UK rollout
John Leyden, 06 Jun 2005

Notebooks outsell desktops

US citizens bought more notebook computers than desktop computers for the first time ever last month. Laptop sales made up 53.3 per cent of total retail PC sales in May, compared to 45.9 per cent last year. Laptops have outsold desktops before - but only for a few days thanks to specific promotions, not for a whole month. Analysts at Current Analysis, which provided the figures, offered three reasons for the change. Firstly laptop prices have fallen further than desktop prices - a 17 per cent fall versus a 4 per cent fall. Secondly, new mobile players like Acer are getting space in US retailers. The final factor is the impact of Wi-Fi - all but five per cent of laptops sold now include wireless networking, compared to 20 per cent last year.® Related stories Dell red-faced over salesman's Lenovo jibes Notebook prices keep falling Dell keeps double-digit growth groove going in Q1
John Oates, 06 Jun 2005

Apple shifts to Intel: what is all the fuss about?

AnalysisAnalysis A number of major news services this weekend forecast that Apple will today announce a staged migration from PowerPC to x86 processors. If it's made, the announcement will take place at the Mac maker's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, certainly the most likely venue for such a revelation since it's addressing the folk who will have to bear the brunt of such a move.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2005

MBNA 'eyes Egg'

Egg could be in line for a £900m buy-out a year after majority shareholder Prudential decided the UK ebank-cum-credit-card outfit was not for sale. US credit card giant MBNA is prepping a £900m approach for Egg, according to The Observer, which reports that financial advisors have already been hired for the deal. Last year, MBNA was named as one of the runners and riders taking part in the "great Egg race". But Prudential - which owns 79 per cent of Egg - pulled the plug on the sale last summer after it failed to secure a £1.6bn bid for the business. The Pru said at the time that it made better financial sense to hang on to Egg after confirming that it was "no longer in discussions regarding a possible transaction". At coffee time this morning shares in Egg were down 0.25p (0.23 per cent) at 109p. ® Related stories Pru pulls out of great Egg race Egg still hasn't got a buyer Egg attracts interest from Capital One Egg losses grow Egg finally flees France Egg losses soar on France debacle
Tim Richardson, 06 Jun 2005

Mars rover breaks free of sand trap

The Mars rover Opportunity has finally escaped from the dastardly sand trap that had kept in captive for almost 40 days. The rover got stuck when it tried to cross a ripple-shaped dune in the Meridiani Planum on 26 April, but mission scientists confirmed this weekend that the rover was rolling free once again. The mission engineers used a model of the rover back on Earth to try to work out how to get the rover out of its ditch. According to the JPL home page, engineers cheered when the images from the rover showed that the vehicle was finally free. The pictures showed fresh wheel tracks in the sand, stretching out behind the rover as it continues its exploration of the Martian surface. NASA plans to take a careful look at Opportunity's surroundings before going on a new long drive, according to the BBC. The last thing anyone wants at this stage is for Opportunity to fall into another sand trap and get stuck again. While it was stuck, the rover took the opportunity to star gaze. A few days ago, Opportunity woke up just after sunset and snapped this picture of Earth. ® Related stories Spirit reveals Mars' violent past Another 18 months for Mars rovers Opportunity sniffs out meteorite on Mars
Lucy Sherriff, 06 Jun 2005

BT IT support provided by ClientLogic - not BT

BT has blamed "crossed wires" for dishing out misleading information about its new IT support service for SMEs. On Friday we reported how BT is now offering small and medium-sized businesses "corporate grade" IT support for around 50p a day. The former UK monopoly also confirmed that its IT Support Manager (ITSM) was manned by BT employees based in the UK. A spokeswoman for the telco told us: "I can happily confirm that all members of the IT Support Manager Team are BT employees based in the UK and work solely on this team (they are not also members of a larger help desk)." That's crystal clear then - BT's new revenue-earning ITSM operation is run by a dedicated team of BT professionals. But wait, sources told El Reg that the ITSM desk is not operated by BT staff, but run out of ClientLogic's centre in Alness, "located in the beautiful Scottish Highlands on the shores of the Cromarty Firth, overlooked by rolling hills". Asked to rubbish this scurrilous piece of scuttlebutt BT has sheepishly acknowledged that it is true. A spokeswoman told us: "We have had confirmation from BT that the IT Support Manager does use a ClientLogic team that is based in the UK. "It seems there were crossed wires with your initial inquiry, which was taken to be outsourcing from the UK, not from BT." ® Related stories SMEs tempted with BT tech support Small firms surfing web to non-local markets Bean counters love the fluffy side of IT SMEs play IT fast and loose TSG buys Leeds reseller BT biz broadband billing balls-up Small.biz gets more spam
Tim Richardson, 06 Jun 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Online gamers targeted in Korean MSN hack attack

More details have emerged about a hacking attack that left MSN's South Korean portal booby trapped with password-pinching malware. The attack targeted subscribers to Lineage, an online game with 4m users, largely in Asia. It's unclear how many users were clobbered by the assault. Police and Microsoft specialists have begun an investigation into the attack. The site - news.msn.co.kr - is back online following a clean-up operation that removed malware planted on the news pages of the portal. Microsoft is blaming the firm that run the site for failing to apply security patches that would have frustrated the attack. The security breach came to light during a routine security scan by net security firm Websense on Sunday May 29. A similar check on May 27 revealed nothing untoward. Microsoft patched the flaw after the Bank Holiday weekend leaving a minimum three day window of exposure, AP reports. Websense reports that the malicious code attempted to exploit multiple JavaScript, IE, and other Microsoft vulnerabilities to download a Trojan (called Lineage.dll) onto the PCs of surfers with vulnerable computers visiting the site. "The attempts were launched through an invisible, embedded iframe on the front page of MSN NEWS Korea. Merely visiting the site with a vulnerable browser was enough to become infected, which occurred without the user's knowledge," it added. Microsoft told AP it hadn't recorded an increase in complaints from subscribers to the $15 a month game following the break-in. ® Related stories Botnet used to boost online gaming scores Onliner gamer stabbed over 'stolen' cybersword Bofra exploit tied to 'massive botnet' MS UK 0wn3d by hackers. Again
John Leyden, 06 Jun 2005

UK road pricing plan heralds the ID card for cars

The UK Government is to unveil satellite-based 'pay-as-you-go' plans for national motor taxation this week, with a test of the technology due in five to six years, and implementation (if it goes ahead) after the next election. The planned approach seems broadly in line with the conclusions of the Department for Transport's feasibility study on road pricing, published last year, but is being touted as "revenue-neutral", i.e. the overall level of motor taxation will remain the same. Honest. That promise flies in the face of the advice of several Labour Party think tanks, and given the likely costs of implementing the technology, may be a difficult one to keep. The Government's stated intent at the moment is to reduce congestion, but effects on traffic levels of varying charging by road, time and congestion level will be difficult to predict, and studies in the past few years have suggested that car use - and hence, congestion - will continue to climb without the discouragement of higher taxation. The anticipated scheme would cover the whole of the UK, and would use GPS to fix the precise location of all vehicles, with cost at the moment anticipated to range from 2p a mile for deserted stretches of road to £1.30 for the busiest. In principle such a scheme could replace fuel and road tax, but a 'vanilla' implementation would obviously miss gas guzzlers, as price would be entirely distance- rather than consumption-based, so the retention of some form of vehicle-related taxation would appear necessary. As the DfT's report anticipates, any reduction in congestion produced by a road pricing scheme need not necessarily be accompanied by an equivalent reduction in traffic levels. At least some traffic would be redirected from more expensive routes to cheaper ones, so there would be a tendency for traffic reductions on one road to go along with increases on another. This would have at least some initial unpopular side-effects outside major conurbations, as traffic switched from, say, motorways to A roads, but at least in principle these could be levelled out by price changes in the early stages of a scheme. In major cities the effects will be far harder to control, as the density of the road grids produces very large numbers of potential rat runs. This will produce major headaches in terms of tracking the vehicles and determining charge levels, and as in some cities most of the roads that actually go anywhere directly (approximately...) are already congested, town driving could turn into a variation of whack-a-mole as people try to save money and the road pricing system tries to deal with the effects. The Government accepts that the anticipated system can't be done with current technology, but is hopeful for the future. GPS isn't good at buildings and built up areas, so will tend to fail in many of the places most prone to congestion, and as Germany's early problems with satellite road-pricing illustrated, having differential pricing on two roads that are close together can result in vehicles being charged for the wrong road. The DfT report reckons that the European version of GPS, Galileo, will go some way towards dealing with these problems; this, however, sounds highly optimistic, particularly as the scale of the planned UK system means that we are - characteristically - heading into uncharted territory. But we may be planning to take quite a lot of the rest of you with us. Aside from the problems of locating the vehicle properly, there are also issues with making sure it is actually telling the truth. If the owner blocks the GPS connection then as far as the system was concerned the car might as well not exist, so at this point the concept begins to move from apparent simplicity into Big Brother territory. According to the report: "We believe... that the technology needed to implement a national distance-based scheme will need generally to be fitted to vehicles during the manufacturing process, since its complexity and the potential for interference between it and other electronic components, and the need for robustness, would make retrofitment difficult and expensive." Obviously, the device needs to be difficult to remove or subvert, and as the charging system will need to distinguish between a vehicle spending a week in an underground car park and one driving around London with a strategically positioned piece of metal foil, the device probably has to be as much about reporting the vehicle's status regularly as it is about being a charging mechanism. Having the box measure and report mileage would provide one possible mechanism for catching evaders, but if by law all vehicles in the country need to have the ability to report position and status, other uses for the system will emerge, and the national ID scheme for cars will be with us. Some of the obvious uses were floated in the parliamentary Transport Committee's report on The Car of the Future last year. Evidence from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), for example, suggested biometric security for cars (bad idea) and remote disabling of the vehicle. Cars could also report their owners for speeding, and cars without MoT, tax (assuming conventional tax won't be entirely abolished) or insurance could also give themselves up. You can envisage these in-car boxes getting fiendishly complex and expensive as the system designers try to lock out abuse and the custodians of sundry Government databases try to get a slice, but that doesn't necessarily mean the manufacturers will politely tell the UK Government to get lost. Getting them to incorporate the boxes at manufacturing stage, says the report, "will need a Vehicle Directive from the EU. The UK Government could take a lead in the European Union, which is the appropriate body for these matters, if it wished to ensure that progress towards national road pricing was maintained, without prejudicing the eventual decision as to whether or not to implement it." Kind of depends what you mean by "prejudicing", that. If the EU did issue a Vehicle Directive requiring the inclusion of in-car monitoring systems then it would do so to cover the whole EU, not just the UK, and it would also roadmap the intended uses for this box. Individual states could use it to facilitate road pricing systems, but the point as far as Brussels was concerned would be to deal with policing, security and safety issues. So if it happens (and it's difficult to see how the UK plans could work without a factory-fitted tamper-proof box), then it will quite possibly have a Europe-wide vehicle ID scheme to back it. Yum. ® Related stories: Congestion charge planned within M25 area Think tank recommends satellite road charging for UK
John Lettice, 06 Jun 2005
graph up

Euro PC market to top $90bn

Europe's top 500 PC suppliers sold equipment worth $89bn in 2004 and are on course to break the $90bn barrier this year. Economic uncertainty and ongoing price pressure meant many firms looked to move away from volume business towards higher margin work. This could be extra services and support contracts or non-PC sales like MP3 players. Although big international brands get the lion's share of sales smaller, local companies are also important. The report found a wide variety of local PC assemblers across Europe. Report author Christine Bardwell said that assemblers which had survived the downturn were more lean and flexible than ever before. She said: "Speed-to-market and cost management remain essential tools to overcome further economic and industry challenges. With the prospect of a small group of global OEM customers tightening their grip on the PC market, understanding local assembly channels is fundamental..." The report is from IT Europa, more details here. ® Related stories Dell quits 'white box' PC biz No more Computer for Dell India struggles to close PC gap
John Oates, 06 Jun 2005

The Escapist - cybercrime, hackery and sex

Book ReviewBook Review Sex, violence, religion, intrigue, humour, exploding breasts - Check.
Wil Harris, 06 Jun 2005

Qualcomm readies Brew for Europe

Two years ago Qualcomm’s mobile content aggregation and delivery platform, Brew, was looking like an endangered species, overshadowed by Java tools and under pressure even in its core markets. The CDMA supremo was widely expected to sideline or even drop the technology, but instead, it has put new efforts into it, as this week’s Brew 2005 conference indicated, and is reinventing it in a way that reflects Qualcomm’s changing relationship with its own customer base. In particular, it has a new content delivery system called Delivery One, which can download non-Brew content such as Java applications and supports advanced user interface tools. This will be the critical weapon in trying to infiltrate the European market and challenge Java-based platforms, especially Nokia’s Preminet, in their heartlands. Traditionally, Qualcomm has used software products such as Brew to make its core CDMA networks more attractive. It has won success for CDMA by keeping up a close understanding of what carriers needed to deliver, and made far earlier advances than the GSM community towards support for multimedia, complex content and customizable interfaces, all key cellco requirements for their 2.5G and 3G systems. This helped it to attract carriers to CDMA and so to lure the equipment majors to its chips, tying in customers in the US, south east Asia and elsewhere. Now, however, Qualcomm has to play a different game, since it has moved aggressively into chips for the GSM world in the shape of its third generation, W-CDMA. This means Qualcomm is no longer just dealing with a relatively closed community of captive customers but has to compete in the open market for the attentions of vendors that are more used to buying chips from Texas Instruments or Freescale. It will seek to do this in the same way as it did in the CDMA market it controls – through a clear comprehension of what network and handset features will most appeal to operators. But it knows that, while W-CDMA may be its passport for final entry into Europe, which has been a closed market until now, European cellcos have extremely demanding approaches to content and customization. This means that Brew will be an important element in convincing equipment makers that Qualcomm chips will give them an edge in appealing to the operators in this region. Opening up Brew There has been a string of hardware enhancements to CDMA chips this year, many geared towards multimedia, as well as the creation of the MediaFlo mobile broadcasting technology. Brew is also an important part of the picture, with the potential to make it easier for carriers to create and deliver new content and services, and to make the subscriber experience more customizable. As such, Brew needs to be separated from CDMA and, along with MediaFlo, positioned as a technology that puts Qualcomm at the heart of the content delivery challenge, regardless of the network. In a world where control of software platforms will be more important for margins and industry influence than hardware, Qualcomm will want Brew not only to drive sales of its chips, but to become an important product in its own right. In this way, it exactly reflects the ambitions of Nokia for its new Preminet content framework, which the US company admits is very similar in concept to Brew, claiming to be “flattered” by the emulation by its Finnish arch-rival. Several important changes are being made to Brew to reflect its broader role and the shift of its parent into more open markets. Most of these follow on logically from the critical change to Brew strategy, made over a year ago, when it was first able to support Java applications. This was a necessary survival tactic, given that Java was growing far more rapidly than Brew and so needed to be accommodated if it were not to kill its rival. Now, the announcements at Brew 2005 show Qualcomm stepping up its bid to make Brew a solution that will increase its influence on non-CDMA networks as well as CDMA, and in new geographical markets. For a chipmaker, Qualcomm has a shrewd understanding of what operators and consumers are looking for, and so the keynotes for Brew this year revolve around advanced gaming, Java, multimedia content and putting the end user in control of his or her mobile experience. All these are important themes for the operators in 2005-6 and Qualcomm has picked them up skilfully in laying down its new roadmap for Brew. It is important that its moves succeed, because the Java world finally has a strong content latform of its own in the shape of Preminet. Nokia’s platform makes up for many of the disadvantages that Java had compared to Brew, making the wider uptake of the Sun Microsystems technology all the more threatening to Qualcomm’s ability to keep a strong position in the content market. Preminet Before Preminet launched last October, and especially after Brew opened up to run on Java platforms, Qualcomm’s framework had genuine advantages over Java, which Nokia is now seeking to neutralize with the creation of, in effect, the first real ecosystem for J2ME (Java2 Mobile Edition). Chief among Brew’s advantages for operators is that it offers a ready-to-go system with simple distribution, digital rights management and billing frameworks and aggregated content; and for content developers that Qualcomm controls the value chain, making it clear where each element sits and how money is made. Sun went some way to matching Brew’s advantages in J2ME in 2003 when it acquired Pixo, whose technology became the basis for its Content Delivery Server for carriers, which aggregates, manages and bills for downloaded material in the same way that Brew does. A year ago, it duly introduced that product and made its first steps towards a formal ecosystem with standard methods of gathering content, provisioning it, collecting payments and sharing them with partners. Key to this was the Java Mobility Advantage Programme to help operators and developers develop, manage and sell Java services. However, little really happened as a result of these changes, and the baton passed to Nokia, whose Preminet promises to codify the J2ME ecosystem and its mechanisms, just as Qualcomm has for Brew. Preminet is a distribution and transaction service, offering a one-stop shop for developers and carriers on either CDMA or GSM-based systems. Significantly, and possibly complacently, Nokia has excluded Brew from Preminet, while Brew is moving this week towards even greater openness with Delivery One. User interfaces One of the most important tactics for Brew to keep biting at Java’s heels is support for customizable interfaces. While software platforms have been important to cellcos to create their own user interfaces, to help strengthen their own brand image and differentiation, now the process may be shifting to the end user. Many consumers wish to be able to control their own experience and even transfer their user interface even when they change network or handset – another in the stream of examples of consumers chafing against the controlled environments of the mobile operators and demanding a more open platform. Anticipating this trend, Qualcomm last year bought UK start-up Trigenix, a specialist in mobile interfaces, and created uiOne, a very graphics rich capability that is now an option within Brew that has been implemented first by US carrier Alltel. Although uiOne gives cellcos more advanced tools to create innovative UIs, it can also be put into the hands of end users. Qualcomm sees customized UIs moving alongside wallpaper and ringtones as a major revenue generator that will compensate operators somewhat for the loss of brand control. Trigenix was not just important for the new features it has added to Brew, but in furthering Qualcomm’s ambitions in its least familiar territory, Europe. Peggy Johnson, head of Qualcomm Internet Services, told a recent interview: “Our acquisition of Trigenix was a big turning point. We found that in Europe, there was a strong need for differentiation.” She said the sales cycle is longest in Europe and the needs of operators very different, but that Trigenix has been an “inflection point” that has put Brew closer to these needs, with various trials ongoing. Of course, the other key factor in Europe is that carriers are starting to roll out 3G in the shape of W-CDMA, a platform on which Brew can work as it cannot on GSM. The ability for handset makers and operators to reduce the time it takes to create a complex UI is important to platforms such as Vodafone Live! Although Live! has a strong reliance on Java technologies, its complicated UI requirements could be a way in for Brew, believes Qualcomm. “Vodafone live! Has a very thick document of user interface requirements that the handset manufacturers have to build into their handsets. This is a perfect use of uiOne because it can allow the handset manufacturers to shorten the time to market to get that specific user interface back to Vodafone,” said Johnson. “You see that duplicated with all the European operators. They have a lengthy list of user interface requirements.” Europe The other critical factor in Europe will be the ability to download non-Brew content, especially Java applications, enabling Brew to be adopted on a W-CDMA network without the carrier having to sacrifice popular content and apps. Qualcomm clearly has designs on Vodafone’s massive networks and admits that the possibility of infiltrating the world’s largest cellco – which co-owns Brew’s largest customer, Verizon Wireless, the only CDMA element of the Vodafone family – was a major reason why the Brew model has been adapted to be more open and to support download of Java, Symbian and other software. In Europe, this will be critical not just to win over 3G carriers, but to keep Qualcomm out of a race to attract a massive developer community for Brew to rival Forum Nokia and other Javaoriented groups. It could not win this race – although the regular payment mechanisms and some graphics functions are among the advantages that may help boost the Brew ecosystem in Europe - but it can bring those communities within its own framework. Brew users will not download a Java virtual machine in order to run an app but will receive Java or Symbian content through a European content delivery system from elata, which also has extensive relationships with European carriers. Qualcomm may have its eyes on Vodafone, but it also knows that Brew can build up support from midrange players and the emerging breed of MVNOs (virtual operators). One strong tactic in the past year has been to open up Brew to smaller operators through a hosted services option, pioneered with Midwest Wireless in the US, which hosts applications on behalf of smaller partners. This could be highly important in emerging markets and in Europe, where one of the main factors that is likely to divide the tier one and tier two carriers is access to an advanced multimedia content platform. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories Nokia ups the heat in its battle with BREW Time to reassess Brew Qualcomm looks for 3G boost
Wireless Watch, 06 Jun 2005

WiMAX goes a-roaming

One of the greatest brakes on progress of cellular services was always the slow and painful path to inter-operator roaming. The complex issues surrounding billing, customer ownership and cross-payments continue to plague the roll-out of every new service, including most recently, MMS messaging. If WiMAX is to achieve broad uptake on an international scale, it needs to address roaming at an early stage, and a first step has been taken with the formation of the WiMAX Global Roaming Alliance (WGRA). Such a system, according to its founder, will enable 802.16-based services to stop “striving to make WiMAX appear complementary to 3G” and set themselves up as a direct price/performance challenge. This ambitious claim was made by Doug Bonestroo, CEO of the first mover behind WGRA, service provider RemotePipes. The company aggregates Wi-Fi hotspots for use by subscribers to its partners’ – mainly cablecos – services, and recently added the SBC FreedomLink network to its footprint, which puts the total number of hotspots it uses at 15,000 in 36 countries. It is now offering the IPRoamer platform to pre-WiMAX operators too, the first being DockPoint of North Carolina. It now hopes to put IPRoamer on the big stage by making it the technical basis of a roaming framework for WiMAX service providers. Membership of the WGRA is initially free to encourage rapid uptake before the inevitable creation of rival systems, perhaps backed by bigger names, and is targeting vendors, service providers and enterprises or government agencies. Concerns of the Alliance will include streamlining authentication and accounting functions between network operators, as well as uniform processes between networks. Bonestroo said: "We realize that the larger telecom providers have a virtual lock on the 3G marketplace, and that the best way to counter that leverage is with a large group of partners in the US and around the world that are committed to standards-based WiMAX roaming. We will welcome any carriers that want to join the effort, but unlike industry groups striving to make Wi-MAX appear complementary to 3G, we will continue to view it as a directly competitive offering." Referring to 3G’s history, he added: “By addressing these needs early in the WiMAX lifecycle, we can hopefully eliminate the substantial burdens experienced when other solutions have transitioned to being roaming enabled." The WGRA is not intended to be another standards body, but rather steer toward consensus on the best available or developing standards, and push for uniform deployment and implementation of those standards once defined. “We believe there are few things worse than accepted standards that have been implemented in countless flavors throughout the supply chain,” said the alliance. As well as RemotePipes and DockPoint, StoneBridge Wireless Broadband is the third founding member. It offers broadband wireless services in three states (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan) and recently announced that it would expand into new regions using Alvarion’s equipment for access and backhaul. The Alliance is starting from humble beginnings and is likely to draw its initial support from similar regional wireless operators, but whether or not it gains sufficient momentum to attract some bigger supporters, it is raising one of the most critical issues for WiMAX once it goes portable and mobile, and one that will have to be addressed – by WGRA or another initiative – more effectively than it was in the cellular world, if WiMAX is to be a viable alternative option in the 3G world. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories Kent students get hyper fast WiMAX broadband One and a half cheers for WiMAX WiMAX summit: 'Standards-plus' could harm 802.16 roadmap
Wireless Watch, 06 Jun 2005

Vampire robonurses hunt in packs

Before we begin this latest round-up of "why you're all going to end up working in a Renault factory at the service of the Lizard Army", please accept our apologies for the delay in getting it to the presses. The reason is simple: as we previously noted, our neoLuddite Resistance Army (NRA) boffins have been beavering away in the Montana bunker on the RFID-frying EMP device, specifically designed to tackle the menace of futurologizing cyberpundits. Well, we can now report that the project appears to have been a complete success. The device - codenamed "Warwick" - was smuggled into the UK last month in crates marked as completely mundane spare parts for the UK's nuclear weapons capability ("Trident ceramic triggers - do not drop or stack more than three high"). Mercifully, NRA comrades within her Majesty's Customs and Excise were able to the oil the wheels when a particularly keen probationary operative queried why the Royal Navy would send a F-reg white Ford Transit driven by a bloke called "Dave" to collect what he believed to be highly-explosive nuclear triggers. "That's how it's done, mate, for security reasons. The plutonium arrives in lead-lined corned beef cans in the hand luggage of a family from Basingstoke, and as for how they distribute the launch codes, well, once a month a little old lady from East Sussex travels by coach to Faslane naval base where she spends two days on the toilet with a copy of Readers' Digest and a bottle of military-grade laxative. You get the idea." Suffice it to say, the Warwick - roughly the size of a domestic fridge but without any salad-crisping capability - was deployed in said Transit in the Centre of Reading and "detonated" via the SMS signal "frykev" at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. We say "detonated" because, of course, all that happens is that a monstrous punch of electromagnetic energy eminates from the Warwick, frying all RFID chips within a five-mile radius. The device can then be retrieved for later use, which is just as well since second-hand Transits don't come cheap - even F-reg ones. The final result is this: nothing has been heard of Captain Cyborg since, leading us to believe that the Lizard Army mothership has whisked him off to its homeworld for a spot of essential maintenance. Sadly, an unplanned side-effect of the EMP blast was that the House of Fraser's entire stock-control system was instantly disabled. This being Reading, word soon spread around the local shopping centres and within an hour the store was looted clean by marauding hoodies high on alcopops and lust for branded clothing. Luckily, no-one was seriously hurt. Otherwise, they might have found themselves on the receiving end of something far worse than an ASBO - the "Sister Mary" medical robot which was recently released onto the wards of St Mary's Hospital in London. Observers who have been keeping an eye on the NHS over the past few years might well have suspected that it is already controlled by the Lizard Alliance, so effectively does it keep granny and her replacement hip apart. Of course, the extraterrestrials know that a zimmered-up pensioner is unlikely to outrun even a killer hoover, while a fully-mobile grey panther will most likely be the first to pick up a plasma pulse rifle and give it to the nearest homicidal cyberloo. Now we don't have to suspect, though; the facts are before us. The Sister Mary is reportedly designed to "glide between beds and allows the controlling doctor to visually examine and communicate with a patient from anywhere in the world", as the BBC puts it. The "Remote Presence Robot" project leader, Parv Sains (pictured here shortly before his left arm was torn off), said: "Many senior doctors with skills and knowledge are required to be in the same places at once. This is a solution in potentially providing their expertise from a remote location." Like a low-Earth orbit, in fact. We don't need to advise veteran readers to take immediate action should they be approached in hospital by a cybernetic Hattie Jacques bearing a thermometer and an offer of a bed bath. Those new to the Rise of the Machines™ might wonder what benefit the Lizard Alliance might gain from close proximity to sick people. Well, it's pretty simple. They're after your blood and if you're too weak to make a grab for the magnetic mine you'd hidden in the bedside table just in case the NHS had been overrun by metallic Angels of Death... And here's why they want your Type O: according to several media reports, a Japanese team at Tohoku University has developed a fuel cell that runs on human blood. It the size of a small coin and develops around 0.2 milliwatts of power. We gather it uses blood glucose and Vitamin K to suck electrons from your vital essence. The scientists, led by Matsuhiko Nishizawa, say the cell could be used to power implants in humans, but we know better. Try the blood-glucose-driven pack robot which holds the chilling prospect of co-ordinated swarms of vampire cyberassassins coming by land and air. Terrifyingly, the swarm robot comes in two flavours: ground-based and air-attack. The former, currently under development by Lizard affiliate iRobot, is part of a development programme aimed at co-ordinating the actions of up to 10,000 individual robots. Here are the facts: The iRobot SwarmBot™ has been designed from the ground up for embodied distributed algorithm development. It packs a comprehensive sensor suite, a high-performance 32-bit microprocessor, and a rugged low-maintenance design into a 5" cube that can rest in the palm of your hand. Each robot uses the sophisticated ISIS(TM) infrared communication system that provides obstacle detection, inter-robot localization, and communications at 125 kbps. It gets worse: Distributed Algorithm Behavior Library: SwarmBots communicate with their neighbors using a set-based neighbor query system and a gradient-based ad-hoc messaging system. Global behaviors are formed from the interactions of many individuals by using our collection of "group behavior building blocks." We have developed a large library of these behaviors, and have used them to perform group tasks such as clustering to a location of interest, surrounding an object to measure its perimeter, navigating long distances using neighboring robots as landmarks, and exploring and mapping a large building... ...and locating the last remnants of humanity in the smouldering wreckage of our post-apocalyptic cities as "Nurse Mary" bring nourishment freshly extracted from fallen NRA comrades... In the air, meanwhile, flocks of Linux-controlled unmanned aircraft scour the horizon for pockets of resistance before transmitting the co-ordinates via Bluetooth to the SwarmBot army below. We can thank the University of Essex for this one. While we have no doubt that the uni's Computer Science and Electronic Systems Engineering departments, led by Dr. Owen Hollands, are obliged to work on the "Gridswarm" project because if they don't they will be terminated via explosive cranial implant, it's certain that the Linux boys behind this are just a few pizza slices away from the total subjugation of humanity: Imagine a large group of small unmanned autonomous aerial vehicles that can fly with the agility of a flock of starlings in a city square at dusk. Imagine linking their onboard computers together across a short-range, high-bandwidth wireless network and configuring them to form an enormous distributed parallel computer. Imagine using this huge computational resource to process the sensory data gathered by the swarm, and to direct its collective actions. You have now grasped the idea of a flying gridswarm. Yes we have. And here's the give-away: As well as working on airborne gridswarms using UAVs, we are interested in heterogeneous swarms that employ a combination of airborne and terrestrial robots. This allows, for example, the UAVs to direct a ground vehicle to a particular location, or for sensed data from the ground vehicle to be processed on the airborne swarm and its results relayed to a central point for archival. Yup, it's all there in black-and-white. Montana beckons. ® The Rise of the Machines™ Captain Cyborg gives forth on CNN Cornell Uni develops apocalypse cube Sex android begats Armageddon machine Man executes Chrysler Rise of the man-eating cyberloo Sobbing Frenchman recounts Renault Laguna terror ordeal Fire-breathing bus attacks South London Dyson unleashes self-replicating hoover Battling teen crushes roboarm menace French join motorised Lizard Alliance Lizard Army develops copulating robot We are Zogg: The Cuddly Menace Lizard Army invades Alaska London menaced by flaming DVD players Killer hoover attacks Scotsman Car self-destructs in assassination bid The rise of the rat-brain controlled android Japanese unveil trumpet-playing robot Boffins unleash robotic cockroach Ukrainian teen fights the Rise of the Machines Man in satanic Renault terror ordeal Killer cyberappliances: Satan implicated US develops motorised robobollard Killer cyberloo kidnaps kiddie A robot in every home by 2010 Cyberappliances attack Italian village Fire-breathing buses threaten London Cyberloo blast rocks Stoke-on-Trent Spanish cyberkiosks claim second victim Cyberkiosk assaults Spanish teenager Hi-tech toilet caught on camera Hi-tech toilet swallows woman
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2005

Bango to float

Bango - the UK outfit that helps companies flog content via mobile phones - is to float later this month on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM). The Initial Public Offering (IPO) looks set raise £5m for the company which it plans to use to develop its business in the UK and overseas. No one from the company was available for comment at the time of writing but earlier reports suggest that the IPO would value the Cambridge company - which employs 28 workers - at around £25m. Bango enables firms to cash in on selling content via mobile phones and includes The Sun, Camelot, Maxim magazine and Channel 4 among its list of punters. By paying Bango a monthly fee, end users can then pay for content through their mobile phone bills or credit/debit cards. In April, for instance, Bango's service was used by more than 140,000 end users from 85 countries to purchase content using mobile devices. What's more, analysts predict that the global market for mobile internet content will explode over the next four years to around $59bn by 2009. Said Bango chief exec Ray Anderson: "The increasing capacity of mobile phones to entertain large numbers of users is well recognised by content providers worldwide. "The AIM admission and funding will increase our profile internationally and assist in exploiting our scaleable technology platform in new territories. "We are building on the successful relationships we already have with many content providers and network operators and are expecting to see significant growth," he said. In the year to March Bango generated revenues of £3.4m up 68 per cent on the previous financial year. The float is expected to be completed by the end of June. ® Related stories Orange shuts out adult content So why does Vodafone filter block Sky News? Bango bakes m-commerce cookies Daily Sport trials porn to mobile phone service
Tim Richardson, 06 Jun 2005

Computer 2000 goes Hightech

Computer 2000, the UK arm of TechData, has signed a deal to distribute Hightech Information Systems range of graphics cards. Hightech was formed in 1987 and specialises in ATI-compatible graphics cards. ® Related stories C2000 gets new software boss C2000 offers lessons in software Meet the one shop stop security appliance
John Oates, 06 Jun 2005

Red Hat gives Fedora wings

Red Hat is giving more freedom to Fedora - the open source project it supports and sponsors. In simple terms Fedora is an advanced Linux distribution which is used as a testing ground for future developments which may be later included in Red Hat's enterprise linux products. It is fully Open Source and relies on community involvement for its ongoing development. Red Hat is giving Fedora its freedom by setting it up as an independent foundation. The Fedora Foundation will take control and ownership of the code but Red Hat will continue to provide financial and technical support. A more independent looking Fedora may help attract more developers. The company is also looking at a version of the Creative Commons license to encourage developers to work on Fedora projects. Red Hat has been a vocal critic of existing patent law and is expected to call for more changes soon. Red Hat's deputy general counsel, Mark Webbink, told CRN the company was looking at reforms with companies like Nokia because current patent laws are obstructing developments in open source software. The delayed release of Fedora 4 is also expected in the next few weeks. ® Related stories Enterprise surge boosts Red Hat's Q2 Red Hat Fedora plans Linux kernel 2.6 for April Red Hat's Fedora released the upgrade path for the rest of us?
John Oates, 06 Jun 2005
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Microsoft pushes mobile advances

Microsoft is making it easier for enterprises to roll out mobile messaging systems based on its technology. The Messaging and Security Features Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 makes it easier to directly push content, such as updated appointment schedules and email, out to users without deploying third-party middleware. The software update - announced today and available from October - also makes it more straightforward for administrators to centrally manage policy. Improved data compression features and improved scalability have also been thrown into the mix. The technology works in combination with an update to Microsoft's flagship groupware application, Microsoft Exchange 2003 SP2, also announced at Microsoft's TechEd conference on Monday and slated for delivery in October 2005. Jason Langridge, mobility manager at Microsoft UK, said the combined enhancements will make it "simpler to deploy mobile messaging without expensive middleware and extra servers". Exchange is embedded in 126m seats, according to Microsoft. The software giant is hoping to use this strength as a base to push further into the mobile device market, which continues to be dominated by the Symbian crowd and more particularly to mount an assault on mobile messaging leader Blackberry from Research In Motion (RIM). Our limited experiences using a Mio smartphone running Windows Mobile 2003 have revealed difficulties sending text messages and slow start-up times compared to Nokia mobiles. Langridge said Windows Mobile 5.0 contains improved test messaging and picture messaging support along with technology designed to make it easy for users to be "up and running" with their Windows-base smart phones within five minutes of taking them out of the box. ® Related stories Microsoft releases Windows Mobile 5.0 HTC unveils 3G PocketPC phone Microsoft goes after Blackberry with Magneto
John Leyden, 06 Jun 2005

MS and EU inch towards agreement

Microsoft appears to have gone some way towards avoiding a daily fine of $5m, by agreeing to release information on the inner workings of its operating systems on a royalty-free basis. The European Competition Commission has said it is happy with some of Microsoft's proposals, but will still push for the company to open its protocols to open source developers. The original ruling that Microsoft had abused its market position, back in March 2004, required the software giant to disclose complete and accurate interface documentation which would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers. In its first attempt to comply with the ruling Microsoft imposed some fairly tough conditions on access to the information. The Commission regarded these as unreasonable and discriminatory. The company has now made a number of changes to its conditions, including allowing competitors to develop and sell interoperable products on a global basis, and making some information available for free. Microsoft's Steve Ballmer said that his company has made some "tough concessions", adding that the company takes its responsibilities in Europe "very seriously".. "I am happy that Microsoft has recognised certain principles which must underlie its implementation of the Commission’s Decision," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement. "I remain determined to ensure that all elements of the Decision are properly implemented. This includes the ability for developers of open source software to take advantage of the remedy." This last element is still to be tested in the European Court of First Instance in Luxemborg, where Microsoft is currently appealing the ruling. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel said that the company wants to balance openness with the need to protect its intellectual property. "While we have not reached agreement with the Commission on whether open source developers can go even farther and publish the source code that implements our technology, we are comfortable turning to the courts for guidance on this issue." The Commision says that if the ruling goes in its favour, it is confident that open source licenses will be possible for information that is no "innovative". A decision on what constitutes "innovative" in this context will be made by a yet-to-be-appointed Trustee, which will provide technical help to the Commission in making sure Microsoft complies with the rulings. The Commission says it will now put Microsoft's proposals to the industry, to evaluate them in full.® Related stories Microsoft keeps mum on EC deal EU to decide on Microsoft fine in July Gates' Microsoft down to the wire for EU compliance
Lucy Sherriff, 06 Jun 2005

Sprinting for seconds better than jogging

Sell that Nike stock and buy into EasychairsRUS. Researchers have found that 90 seconds of sprinting delivers the same benefit as an hour’s worth of jogging. The information will leave couch potatos all over the world full of hope, and comes from scientists at Canada’s McMaster University's department of kinesiology. They took a group of 16 subjects. Half were subjected to a two week sprint interval training program, which included four to seven 30 second bursts of “all out cycling” followed by four minutes of recovery, repeated three times a week. The other eight did absolutely nothing. The kinesiologists found that the sprinters increased their endurance by an average of 26 minutes. They went so far as to say the sprinters showed “profound changes in skeletal muscle and endurance capacity, similar to training that requires hours of exercise each week.” The do nothing group, by comparison, showed absolutely no improvement whatsoever. No doubt some chiselled fitness guru in California is already chugging down a skinny latte as he sketches out an exercise book and video series featuring such fat-busting exercises as running for the lift, sprinting to the bus stop, and popping a ready meal in the microwave and haring round the room until it goes bing An equally viable option, as far as we’re concerned, is to do absolutely bugger all. McMaster has also shown that while a few seconds of fast and furious sprinting can deliver a health boost, sitting on your backside isn’t going to do you any harm. More details here. ® Related stories Wobble bottoms get mobile boost
Joe Fay, 06 Jun 2005

Recycle your iPod

Apple US is offering ten per cent discounts to people who bring in their old iPods for recycling when they buy a new one. US customers can take any iPod into one of 100 Apple stores to get 10 per cent off if they buy a new iPod the same day. Environmentalists have criticised the electronics giant for its poor recycling policy. The Computer TakeBack Campaign called on Apple to provide free recycling of all its products. Robin Schneider, vice chair of the Computer TakeBack campaign, welcomed the change but said: "The Computer TakeBack Campaign is glad that Apple is finally listening to us and to their American consumers and taking responsibility for some of their iWaste. Now, Apple needs to agree to take back its whole range of products and to offer free and convenient takeback to consumers that don't live near Apple stores." A spokeswoman for Apple UK was unable to tell us if the program would be extended to Europe. In other news last week Apple agreed to settle a class action suit brought by iPod owners unhappy with battery performance. The agreement covers iPods sold up until May 2004. Unhappy punters, who've still got a receipt, are entitled to a $50 voucher against future Apple purchases. The deal should get final approval in August. ® Related stories Apple shifts to Intel: what is all the fuss about? Apple to announce Intel 'Switch' - WSJ Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger' in depth
John Oates, 06 Jun 2005

Live 8 getz 1m txts for tikits

More than a million texts have been sent so far by music fans eager to win tickets for next month's Live 8 gig in London's Hyde Park. On current numbers, organisers of the poverty awareness concert predict they will have received up to 1.5m texts by midnight tonight. In a statement issued this afternoon organisers said: "All of the systems were able to meet the demand and at its peak we received a total of 611 messages per second." The concert - featuring top names including Paul McCartney, Elton John, U2 and Madonna - is part of Bob Geldof's ongoing campaign to eradicate poverty in Africa. The question giving punters the chance to win tickets for the gig was only revealed at 8am this morning and within hours had racked up a million entries. The ticket lottery closes at midnight on 12 June giving some 70,000 punters the chance to win a pair of tickets to the concert. Texts to the competition cost £1.50 and this money is to be donated to Live 8. But O2 - which is Live 8's "overall technology partner" - has been criticised for failing to waive its 10p-a-message admin fee for sending texts. The Evening Standard even quotes one MP as describing O2's actions as "disgraceful". But the mobile phone outfit has rejected the report - which suggested it could make as much as £7m from the text-in - insisting that it will not make a penny from the event. A spokeswoman for O2 told us: "We are making no money whatsoever from this exercise. We estimate our total net contribution to the event will be between £250,000 and £500,000.® Related stories Online ticket touts fleece punters World Cup ticket draw results in U2 says soz for online snafu Touts flood eBay with black market tickets Fans rage as U2 ticket sales site falls over
Tim Richardson, 06 Jun 2005

New domains must protect trade marks, says WIPO

A uniform intellectual property protection mechanism should be established to protect trade marks whenever new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are introduced, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The recommendation has been made in a report submitted to ICANN, the body that manages the internet’s domain name system, which asked WIPO for expert advice on IP issues involved in the introduction of gTLDs last year. The seven original top-level domains – .com, .net, .org, .gov, .int, .mil, .edu – were created in the 1980s. In November 2000, seven new names were created: .biz, .info, .name, .pro, .aero, .coop and .museum, and ICANN is now in the middle of assessing ten new proposed gTLDs, two of which, .jobs and .travel, have been approved so far. But new gTLDs create problems for the owners of trade marks, geographical indicators and other intellectual property rights, who can find themselves competing with cybersquatters to gain control of their mark-related domains. "The introduction of a new gTLD presents particular challenges for IP owners seeking to protect their domain names against unauthorised registration by third parties. With the growth of internet usage and electronic commerce, the strategic importance of domain names as business identifiers has grown significantly," said Francis Gurry, WIPO deputy director general. He added that registering their entire trade mark portfolio might often be the only way for IP owners to protect their identifiers from being grabbed by cybersquatters. Until now their only serious remedy has been to take retrospective action against unauthorised registrations by means of registry dispute resolution procedures or under WIPO’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. WIPO hopes that its new recommendation will complement these existing remedies by preventing unauthorised registrations in the first place. The report, "New Generic Top-Level Domains: Intellectual Property Considerations", focuses exclusively on the IP aspects that need to be taken into account if and when extensions of the domain name space take place, and does not comment on whether further extensions are necessary or desirable. The report summarises the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center’s domain name dispute experience, and notes that the number of such disputes – based on the case filing rate – has remained stable over the last years and recently even increased. An additional mechanism to prevent unauthorised registration of domain names during the critical introductory phase of a new gTLD would therefore strengthen the ability to combat the still widespread practice of cybersquatting, it says. Drawing on WIPO’s experience in implementing various IP protection mechanisms in more recent gTLD introductions, the report notes a trend among TLDs towards sunrise mechanisms – which allow IP owners to register their identifiers before the general public. Experience shows that the need for IP protection mechanisms is most tangible in open gTLDs, which are not subject to clearly defined and policed registration restrictions, and which accept domain name applications from the general public, says the report. The fewer restrictions and prior verification requirements associated with the registration process, the greater the risk of abusive registrations. It recommends implementing a single uniform preventive IP protection mechanism across all new gTLDs. Specifically, says the report, new gTLDs should be required to offer IP owners the option of registering their protected identifiers during a specified period before opening registration to the general public. In sponsored or restricted gTLDs where IP owners may not be eligible to register domain names, IP owners could instead be given the option of obtaining defensive registrations during this initial period. Such a uniform mechanism would have a number of advantages: Operators of new gTLDs would not be required to develop their own IP protection mechanisms, a task for which they are not necessarily equipped; ICANN would not be required to monitor the correct implementation of multiple protection mechanisms applied by different gTLDs; IP owners would not be required to devote significant resources to understanding and using multiple different IP protection mechanisms; and The general public would benefit from enhanced reliability and credibility of domains. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. See: The report Related stories ICANN goes domain crazy SpamHaus lobbies for .mail TLD Cohen disputes UK registry's legitimacy Europe annexes Caribbean islands .Net report speared a third time EU domain jumps final hurdle
OUT-LAW.COM, 06 Jun 2005
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New Stratus box lends Windows Server speed and strength

Stratus Technologies, a leading maker of super-reliable servers has boosted one of its lower-end systems aimed at running Windows Server 2003. Stratus today announced the W Series ftServer 4600 box, which was built around a brand new, homemade chipset. The two-processor server runs on 3.6GHz Xeon (Irwindale) chips from Intel and can crank through information up to 66 per cent faster than previous 5600 systems, according to Stratus. In addition to the new chips, the server also ships with cheaper SATA hard drives instead of the SCSI drives available with the 4600's predecessor. Stratus, for the uninitiated, prides itself on adding an unprecedented level of reliability to rather standard servers. These so-called high-availability machines cost more than regular two or four processor boxes but typically less than similar systems based on proprietary processors and components. Financial institutions, public safety bodies and manufacturing companies tend to be the most likely customers for these types of specialized servers. Stratus customers will find that the ftServer 4600 takes up one-third less space than its predecessor and ships with the latest Intel chip technology such as a 2MB Level 2 cache on each chip, support for up to 16GB of DDR2 memory and an 800MHz front-side bus. "Further, input/output-bound applications running on the ftServer 4600 system can expect as much as a five-fold performance improvement. The chipset also makes possible first-of-its-kind performance features and enhancements that Stratus plans to include in future Stratus 4000 Series server models," Stratus said. On the storage side, customers will find that the new box holds up to six 74GB Western Digital Raptor 10,000 RPM SATA drives. This gives customers a product with a similar performance but lower price than previous SCSI drives. Stratus also supports EMC's Clariion, AX100 and Symmetrix systems for external storage. The ftServer 4600 should be one of Stratus's better sellers and is aimed right at Windows Server 2003 customers. Later this year, Stratus expects to come out with a box specifically for Linux customers as well. Customers will find that a pretty well loaded version of the ftServer 4600 server will cost them close to $40,000. That price includes four of the Xeon processors even though Stratus officially calls the system a two-way server. That's because of Stratus's no single point-of-failure design. More information on the box is available here. ® Related stories HP fills NonStop gear full of Itaniums SCO, Groklaw and the Monterey mystery that never was NEC unveils fault-tolerant Linux server
Ashlee Vance, 06 Jun 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Apple pulls the ultimate switch with Intel embrace

Apple has bought into its own ad campaign and become a switcher. As expected, the Mac maker announced today that it will next year start phasing Intel processors into its computer line. Apple CEO Steve Jobs previewed a version of the OS X operating system humming away on an Intel-based Mac during the company's Worldwide Developer Conference held today in San Francisco. He revealed that a version of the OS tuned for Intel's chips has been in development for years and will start appearing on machines in 2006. By the end of 2007, all of Apple's systems will have hearts from Chipzilla. "Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far," Jobs said. "It's been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel's technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years." We already covered this contentious move here and here. CNET was the first to confirm the shift. Gasps of concern went out at the developer conference when Jobs first mentioned the switch, as many Apple fans have long relished their non-Wintel status. The developers will be charged with doing most of the work to shed Apple software from the PowerPC architecture. More to follow. ®
Ashlee Vance, 06 Jun 2005

Apple CEO promises two-year Intel conversion

Steve Jobs has committed Apple Computer to an aggressive timetable for porting the Mac architecture to Intel, while promising a smooth transition for developers and ISVs already building applications and services for PowerPC machines. Apple will roll out Intel-based Macs during the next two years with machines available by next June and a phased introduction to be "mostly" complete by the end of 2007. Apple announced the rollout at the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco on Monday. For the Intel-phobes out there, and there were quite a few judging by the anxious shuffling and mutterings from the assembled WWDC audience, Jobs pledged Apple will continue developing PowerPC-based Macs during the transition. The future, though, is clearly Intel because Apple apparently wants to capitalize on a high-performance, low-power consumption architecture that will enable it to finally deliver on the 3GHz PowerMac - promised to arrive last year by Jobs but still missing. By mid-2006, Intel will have about five times the performance per watt of IBM, Apple's chief said. "The most important reasons [for adopting Intel] are... as we look ahead we can envision some amazing products for you, and we can't imagine how we will get there building them with the PowerPC chipset," Jobs said. That future also includes the next version of Apple's OS X, codenamed Leopard, and due in either 2006 or 2007, in time to take-on Microsoft's Longhorn client. Cementing the message, Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini joined Jobs on stage to shake on the companies' alliance and put years of niggling rivalry behind them. "There's a whole bunch of you who never thought you'd see that logo [Intel] on this stage. I was one!" Otellini remarked, before slipping into corporate speak: "We are excited to work with Apple to bring you some really great products." But don't worry Mac fans, it won't be a case of PowerPC cold turkey. OS X can already compile to Intel, Jobs told WWDC. To prove his point, he demonstrated the Tiger operating system running multiple desktop widgets, and opened Microsoft Office and Adobe System's documents, all on top of an Intel Pentium 4 3.6GHz system. Jobs said OS X already "sings" on Intel. Jobs also unveiled Xcode 2.1, letting developers build applications for either Intel or PowerPC using the same tools and universal binaries from a single CD. "We are going to support both processors for a long time because you will have [an] install base on PowerPC you want to see use applications, and will have a growing customer base on Intel you will want to sell your applications to," Jobs said. ISVs, meanwhile, can tweak applications in Apple's Cocoa and Carbon C/C++ environments in a matter of days or weeks; however, those using Metrowerks are advised to go Xcode 2.1 to access those universal binaries. For the tweak challenged, Jobs unveiled Rosetta - a dynamic bin translator that runs PowerPC binaries on Intel. "It's nothing like Classic... It's transparent, where users don't know [it's there]. It's lightweight and fast," Jobs said. Importantly, Apple has drawn support from two influential software partners. Microsoft's Mac business manager Roz Ho promised binaries for future versions of Office for Mac running on Intel, while Adobe chief executive Bruce Chizen pledged to be the first ISV with a complete line of applications for Mac on Intel. To encourage developers to switch from PowerPC to Intel, Apple is offering a $999 Developer Transition Kit with 3.6GHz Pentium 4 hardware, OS X 10.4.1, pre-release of XCode 2.1 universal binaries for its premium-level developers. ® Related stories Apple shifts to Intel: what is all the fuss about? Apple to announce Intel 'Switch' - WSJ Mac OS X 10.4 - more bling than bang? Black is white in Longhorn compatibility land
Gavin Clarke, 06 Jun 2005

VMware starts virtual machine club for developers and ISVs

Is virtual machine software development getting you down? Well, buck up, little camper. VMware has an "online virtual infrastructure resource center" (OVIRC) just for you. The OVIRC, otherwise known as a web site, is VMware's latest attempt to make virtual machines more palatable to the software world at large. The site has the developer basics you might expect such as technical guides and product updates. It also has some goodies you might not have thought about like pre-tested sets of applications ready to run in a virtual machine These pre-built apps really seem to be the star of the VMWare Technology Network (VMTN) site. Starting June 13, packages will arrive from a host of big names, including BEA, Oracle, Red Hat, Novell and MySQL. Developers will be able to download these pre-built, pre-configured packages for free and begin working with the software. Shared VMware and Oracle customers will already be familiar with this arrangement, as both companies announced a similar deal around Oracle's 10g database and server software last year. "Entire application environments can be pre-installed, pre-configured and 'saved' within a best-practice virtual machine," VMware said. "Developers can eliminate many of the traditional stumbling blocks associated with testing, evaluating and deploying new software by using these pre-built applications within virtual machines." Also on June 13, VNware's VMTN subscription service will go live. This service, which costs $299 per user annually, will offer developers a price break on certain software and a number of tools for working with virtual machines. In particular, developers will receive copies of VMware's Workstation, GSX Server and evaluation ESX Server clients. VMware, the partitioning subsidiary of EMC, also hopes developers will share information and use the company's testing products via the VMTN service. Improving developer interest around its partitioning products is the obvious next step for the company which has shot up from around 100 workers to 1,000 in the last couple of years. VMware has managed to establish itself as the server consolidation and virtual machine testing standard in the x86 world. As such a standard, it now needs to foster deeper interest in its products and nurture the most vibrant developer community possible. ® Related stories EMC Invista provokes technology race AMD prints 'Pacifica' virtualisation spec Multi-tier 'virtual' development is go HP becomes EMC software reseller in $325m settlement EMC delivers again with strong Q1 Intel sees virtualization as key to child-proof PCs
Ashlee Vance, 06 Jun 2005