Online fraudsters have started targeting smaller banks and credit unions in hopes of fooling a larger percentage of customers, according to groups that monitor phishing activity. Last week, Internet security firm Netcraft published an advisory warning that the number of phishing attacks aimed at smaller financial institutions has jumped significantly over the past few weeks. Users of the company's anti-phishing toolbar reported six new attacks in a 24-hour period earlier in the week. "Phishers are catching on to the fact that it is easier to target small places," said Paul Mutton, Internet services developer for the firm. "It seems that phishers are diversifying." Phishing scams use bulk email messages to target a large number of users. The messages appear to come from a legitimate financial institution or business. A common version of the scam informs the recipient that an account has been stolen or a charge placed on their credit card. The potential victim is asked to log into a site to verify their identity, but in reality the fraudsters hope to net the person's financial account information. While larger banks and e-commerce sites have had to deal with the problem of online email scams targeting their customers - and even supermarkets have had the dubious honor of gaining the attention of fraudsters - for smaller banks and credit unions, it's still a relatively new experience. The scourge of phishing has drawn the ire of not just customers, but of online vigilantes as well, some which deface the fake bank Web sites created by phishers. The Honeynet Project, which places heavily monitored servers on the Internet to watch attackers' tactics, has seen an increase in phishing aimed at the clients of smaller financial institutions, said Thorsten Holz, a researcher with the German Honeynet Project. "That's the direction that phishers are heading," he said. "Nowadays, many people know that phishers are hunting for Ebay and Paypal accounts, but many don't know that banks are a target." Students and staff at the University of Michigan learned the lesson last fall, when an email message purportedly from a local bank lured several people into giving up their user names and passwords, said Linda Green, a spokeswoman for the University of Michigan's Information Technology Central Services department. In May, when the credit union that serves the university was targeted with a similar attack, the ITCS staff sent out warnings, advised the credit union of the issue and convinced the local paper to cover the story. In the end, no one fell prey to the attack, nor when a third email popped up earlier this month, Green said. "We feel that we have dodged the bullet this time," she said. Last month, the customers at more than 30 credit unions became targets of phishing scams, according to data collected by the Antiphishing Working Group, an industry consortium that tracks the problem. "Many of those attacks appear to be part of a toolkit or the same group of people, because they use the same techniques and wording, merely changing the target names," said Dan Hubbard, a member of the AWG's steering committee and the senior director for security at Internet threat monitor Websense. May's burst of activity encompassed the most attacks yet aimed at smaller financial institutions, according to the AWG's data. Hubbard is not sure what is behind the increase, however. The countermeasures of larger banks may have diminished returns for the attackers, or the fraudsters may be able to transfer more money from credit unions before they catch on, he said. "It is so economical and inexpensive to do this, perhaps they are experimenting to see what works best," Hubbard said. Netcraft's Mutton believes that the customers of smaller banks and credit unions are more trusting and, thus, easier targets for phishing scams. "You can send fewer emails and get a better response rate," he said. University credit unions are particularly attractive targets, Mutton added, because attackers can easily generate a pool of likely customers by finding the email addresses of current students. The University of Michigan's Green agreed, saying that keeping students aware of the issues is somewhat difficult, because every year a new batch of freshmen enter the colleges and have to be taught to be careful, "We have 6,000 new students every fall," she said. "You don't ever get done educating them." Related stories Netcraft launches anti-phishing toolbar Underground showdown: defacers take on phishers Japanese 'Yahoo! phisher' arrested
AnalysisAnalysis Business Objects and Cognos are the most well-known suppliers in the business intelligence space and are perceived to be the market leaders. However, this duopoly is increasingly under threat and it is worth considering the different pressures that these suppliers are under. The first element of competition is, of course, from other direct competitors, of which one would historically have thought of MicroStrategy and Brio (now part of Hyperion) but also Panorama, ProClarity and a number of others. However, arguably the biggest threat in the traditional OLAP space is coming from SAS, which is a bigger company than either Business Objects or Cognos, and which is making a determined (and apparently successful) attempt to challenge Business Objects and Cognos in their heartlands. Then there is also IBM, which is pushing its BI credentials with products like AlphaBlox, which competes (though it is a toolkit) with the analytic applications provided by Business Object and Cognos. Then there is reporting. Let's think out of the box for the moment and about application development. There are, today, basically only two development environments: Microsoft Visual Studio and the open source Eclipse framework. If you want to develop reporting as a part of an application within a Microsoft environment then your default choice is to use SQL Server Reporting Services. That was okay for Business Objects and Cognos because they could still expect to win some business in the Windows space and they had Unix all to themselves. Not any more they don't. Actuate has just announced formal availability of BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) which is the Eclipse standard for developing reporting applications (or parts thereof) within an Eclipse environment. How many developers are going to licence Crystal (part of Business Objects) or Cognos ReportNet when they get a free download of BIRT? And if they need some support because they want to embed the software then they can get that relatively inexpensively from Actuate? This isn't the end of the Open Source threat to the traditional BI vendors. There is already one company (Greenplum) promoting an Open Source approach to data warehousing: how long will it be before someone starts building open source cube technology? That would really put the cat amongst some pigeons. And, of course, it remains to be seen what IBM does with AlphaBlox and Eclipse. Even without Open Source cubes the traditional multi-dimensional cube is under threat: QlikTech recently announced version 7.0 of its QlikView product. Now, without going into too many details this is a BI tool (actually it is more than that, for example it supports the construction of analytic applications) that does everything that OLAP does but more, doesn't use OLAP technology and runs entirely in memory (so it is very fast). In fact, QlikTech has been around for more than a decade and it has more than 1,800 customers world-wide. It has traditionally focused on the mid-market, but the introduction of 64-bit support means that its in-memory approach can now cater for huge volumes (which was not previously the case). As a result, the company is now tackling major organisations where Business Objects and Cognos have traditionally been strongest, and it is winning business and growing (it has doubled in size in the last year) as a result. Of course, Business Objects is the most threatened. Cognos has its financial and corporate performance management applications to keep it warm at night where Business Objects does not. It begins to look as if the acquisition of Adaytum (by Cognos rather than Business Objects – they both wanted it) could turn out to be a key strategic (survival?) decision. © IT-Analysis.com
A small island in the Indian Ocean is aiming to be the first completely wireless country. Mauritius, which covers 2,000 square kilometres and has a population of 1.2m, is on the way to having wireless internet access across the whole island. The project is being run by ADB Networks which is treating it as a pilot for future African networks. Government support for the project has brought investment from IT firms including Microsoft and Oracle. The government is also supporting training schemes which have already taught basic IT skills to 37,000 Mauritians. It has backed investment in the Cyber Tower - a twelve storey monster in Cybercity designed to "utilise the sunshine features of the Mauritian environment." More on Cyber Tower here. The network already covers 60 per cent of the island and 70 per cent of the population, by the end of the year it should be 90 per cent. One speed bump on the road to wireless nirvana is Mauritius Telecom which is accused of behaving in typical incumbent style. Because the firm provides good revenues for the government it has been wary of exposing the telco to proper competition. Back in May Mauritius Telecom complained that rival telcos were offering cheaper international calls - the government regulator upheld its complaint and made all telcos charge the same for international calls. More details on this story on Yahoo here® Related stories Mauritius moves to protect local telco Software piracy down, but piracy losses up Europe annexes Caribbean islands
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has formally told the European Union to rethink its decision to impose punitive import duties on Hynix memory products from South Korea. The WTO's demand was informally made public back in March, when it issued its preliminary ruling. The EU had an opportunity then to appeal against the WTO's decision, and it may do so now that the judgement has been formally declared. So too can Hynix. The WTO said that the EU had not proved that the rescue package put together by a number of Hynix's creditor banks amounted to unlawful state aid. Since the South Korean government owned or held large stakes in a number of the banks, the EU argued, any support given to the memory maker by those banks was tantamount to money provided by the government. Hynix denied the claim. It said a number of the creditor banks behind the rescue package were not South Korean companies, and of those that were, the country's government was in the process of loosening or even severing its ties with the banks. The WTO also ruled that the EU had not correctly calculated the financial impact of the rescue package on Hynix's European competitors. However, it did find that some of the money Hynix received did contravene its regulations. The EU imposed a 34.8 per cent levy on Hynix imports in July 2003. That's the figure the WTO has asked the EU to reconsider. It has a month to come up with an alternative, the WTO said. The US imposed a similar import duty in 2003, to the tune of 44.7 per cent, for the same reason. In February, the WTO formally asked the US to rethink the size of the levy, much as it has now done with the EU. Separately, Hynix has raised $1.3bn in a series of five-year loans, the Korea Times has revealed. The loans will allow the company to pay back existing debt before the earlier lending reaches its final repayment date. It needs to raise a further $700m for the same reason, at which point the company's managers will be able to regain control of the memory maker from its creditor banks. The plan was made public in April. Back then, however, the timetable had the company's managers taking control by the end of this month. That now seems unrealistic, the paper reported, with the transition now anticipated to take place at the end of July - still some 18 months before the move had originally been expected to take place. ® Related stories DRAM price plunge hammers Hynix Hynix makes $185m price-fixing confession to US DoJ Hynix creditors to cede control early - report WTO backs Hynix against EU on DRAM levies WTO backs Korea in DRAM duty dispute
Intel has developed a WLAN transceiver capable of tuning in to both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands used by 802.11b/g and 802.11a Wi-Fi networks, respectively, with its own silicon-built radio. Multi-mode WLAN chipsets are not uncommon. Intel's breakthrough is to develop a radio chip that is not only produced using a cheap CMOS process but can operate across both bands as necessary. Current WLAN radios are produced either by a pricey bipolar process or CMOS, and crucially are hard-wired for a specific network type. Intel's goal is to develop a CMOS radio chip that can switch between any radio configuration. The chip giant's latest device doesn't meet that target, but the ability to switch between two configurations is a step in the right direction. Intel's prototype part, which comprises a number of chips mounted together in a single package, was detailed in a paper presented to the Symposium on VLSI Technology in Kyoto, Japan, last week. The device operates at 1.4V - below the operating voltage of many of today's WLAN chips - in receive mode. To transmit, however, it needs twin 1.4V and a third, 3.3V supplies, and consumes 800mW of power. In receive mode it consumes up to 170mW of power. The device was fabbed using Intel's standard 90nm process, the company said. The device has the capacity to deliver the higher data transfer rates set to be supported by the upcoming 802.11n next-generation Wi-Fi standard. ® Related stories Intel recruits Nokia to tout WiMAX Samsung notebooks to sport Airgo Wi-Fi booster Cisco tightens grip on WLAN standards IEEE rejects Nokia-backed next-gen Wi-Fi proposal Ofcom ponders open UWB spectrum CSR unveils 'lowest cost' Wi-Fi chip Intel preps chip to link 3G, Wi-Fi networks
US BlackBerry users had time to get on with their lives on Friday morning when a service problem stopped their mobile devices receiving emails. The problem was at Research In Motion which makes the corporate pacifiers - dubbed crackberries because of their addictiveness. Three networks were hit: Cingular, Nextel, and T-Mobile. Verizon and Sprint customers had no problems. Some Canadian networks suffered a slowdown, according to CBC. Service was restored by Friday lunchtime and RIM refused to comment on how many customers complained. RIM notched up three million subscribers in early May. ® Related stories RIM takes NTP to court - again Business email services squeeze BlackBerry Mobile email consolidation kicks off Microsoft goes after Blackberry with Magneto
France Telecom was kept busy this morning stamping out rumours that it is preparing to splash out £4bn to take over Cable & Wireless. If the reports are correct, the deal would set the stage for a merger of the firms' ISP arms, Wanadoo and Bulldog. The Sunday Telegraph quotes one unnamed executive as saying: "There is absolutely no doubt that France Telecom is looking at making a bid for Cable & Wireless." However, France Telecom has denied the story saying it simply isn't true. "France Telecom formally denies this information," a spokeswoman for the European telco told The Register. Despite the denial, the acquisition would make sense for Wanadoo, - which is owned by France Telecom. The ISP is keen to offer telecoms and internet service direct to end users and has committed itself to investing in local loop unbundling (LLU). While it is prepared to invest the cash itself, buying C&W-owned Bulldog would give it access to a LLU operator that has already invested heavily in installing its kit in BT telephone exchanges. At the end of May, Bulldog had installed its kit in 400 BT exchanges - seven months ahead of schedule and has since pledged to wire up a further 400 exchanges by the end of next year. ® Related storis C&W goes large on LLU Billing snafu hits Bulldog Bulldog to extend reach of unbundled broadband Bulldog service suffers 'performance issue' Broadband growth buoys Wanadoo Wanadoo UK begins major broadband drive
Asustek, not Quanta, will produce Apple's upcoming widescreen iBook laptop Mac. So claims a report in Taiwan's Economic Daily News, which adds weight to rumours published in April that the Mac maker is preparing a consumer-oriented widescreen notebook. To date, Apple's widescreen offerings have been restricted to its PowerBook G4 line-up, but as demand for widescreen notebooks continues to grow at the lower-end of the consumer laptop market, it was always likely Apple would eventually ship a widescreen iBook. In April, sources from Taiwan's contract manufacturer community claimed Apple had signed Quanta to make the 14in portable computer, with a view to a Q4 ship date. The claim was more plausible than earlier suggestions that Apple was about to announce PowerBooks based on the G5 processor. The company's shift from the PowerPC architecture to x86 chips suggests that any plan it might have had to produce a G5 notebook will not now come to fruition. Today's EDN report claims Asustek beat Quanta to the IBook contract. Asustek already produces Apple's 12.1in iBook and PowerBook, and has been rumoured to have been selected to produce a larger, 15.4in widescreen iBook next year. Quanta builds a number of Apple's other PowerBook notebooks. The iBook line was last refreshed in October 2004, while the PowerBook family had a makeover in January this year. ® Related stories Dell to launch 19in widescreen notebook 'next year' Apple signs 'widescreen iBook' contract UK Mac reseller offers PowerBook G5 teaser Apple updates G4 PowerBooks with Bluetooth 2.0 Apple said to ship PowerBook G5 in Q2 2005 Related review Apple 15in PowerBook G4
AMD's dual-core desktop processor, the Athlon 64 X2, finally went on sale as packaged product for end-users yesterday, though supply may be tight. A number of Tokyo computer shops were offering X2 chips rated at 4200+, 4600+ and 4800+ this weekend, according to local reports. The 4400+ does not seem to have been readily available. Prices ranged from $606 to $609 for the slower of the three chips, to $910 to $919 for the mid-range part and around $1,135 for the 4800+. AMD's price-list has the three parts down as $537, $803 and $1,001, though that's OEM pricing, with buyers committing themselves to purchasing parts in batches of 1,000 chips. The boxed product may be pricey, but that didn't stop shops selling all their stocks of the new AMD CPUs, local news sources claimed. However, this morning, a number of online retailers will listing all four X2 processors for immediate availability. AMD formally launched the X2 at the end of May, with all available parts shipping to the computer manufacturers. The X2 series is available in two flavours, one with 1MB of L2 cache and the other with 2MB, in each case split 50:50 between the two cores. The latter is the 'Toledo' chip, which has been on AMD's public roadmap for some time. The smaller-cache part is codenamed 'Manchester'. Toledo and Manchester are offered at 2.2GHz and 2.4GHz, like the faster single-core Athlon 64s. Manchester's smaller cache means lower model numbers. At those clock frequencies, it's rated at 4200+ and 4600+ while Toledo comes in at 4400+ and 4800+. AMD said the processors will boost the performance of "select" digital media and productivity software by up to 80 per cent over the company's single-core chips. On average, productivity performance goes up 22 per cent, compared to single-core Athlon 64s, while digital media apps run 34 per cent faster, the company claimed. ® Related stories AMD ponders next fab site AMD launches dual-core Athlon 64 X2 AMD may be running in place AMD dual-core desktops to be branded 'X2' Related reviews Intel Pentium D dual-core desktop CPU AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ dual-core CPU
Fraudsters have been quick to launch phishing attacks in a bid to cash in on the publicity surrounding a security breach involving MasterCard International that may affect up to 40 million credit card holders. The crude and misspelled phishing attack, spotted by Secure Computing, is unlikely to fool many but illustrates how fraudsters are quick to latch onto current events in instigating security assaults. MasterCard International is notifying member financial institutions of possible fraud risks following a security breach at CardSystems Solutions, a third party processor of payment card data. The breach of payment card data "potentially exposed more than 40 million cards of all brands to fraud", MasterCard warns. Approximately 13.9 million of these are MasterCard-branded cards. CardSystems discovered a "potential security incident" on 22 May and notified the FBI about the problem the next day but the breach only became public on Friday (17 June) just a day before it was exploited in phishing attacks. These attacks made no specific reference to the security breach so it looks as if fraudsters used "one they'd prepared earlier". ® From: Master Bank [email@example.com] To: Subject: **Your Mastercard online Confirmation** Dear User, During our regular update and verification of the accounts, we couldn't verify your current information. Either your information has changed or it is incomplete. If the account information is not updated to current information within 5 days then, your access will be restricted. go to this link below or copy and paste it on your addresse tool bar. http://www.mastercard-new-register.com ***Please Do Not Reply To This E-Mail As You Will Not Receive A Response*** Thank you Accounts Managent Related stories MasterCard fingers partner in 40m card security breach Credit card firms push cybersecurity MasterCard fingers partner in 40m card security breach Credit card firms push cybersecurity Phishers look to net small fry Pharming casts shadow over rising ecommerce sales
Telecoms and internet services in New Zealand are returning to normal after two fibre cables were damaged on the North Island. In the first instance, a fibre on a bridge in the Rimutaka area was damaged. "Services through that fibre were able to be routed through different parts of the network until the second incident occurred in south Taranaki where a post-hole digger damaged a fibre late this morning," New Zealand's telco Telecom said in a statement. The disruption began at 10.48am (New Zealand time) hitting voice, data, internet and mobile services and even led to the closure of the country's stock exchange. Telecom services have now been restored, said an apologetic Telecom. ® Related stories Porn swallows 20% of NZ police IT capacity Offshore to New Zealand, say Kiwis Norwegians fume over Netcom outage Power outage floors eBay Ship's anchor cuts cable to Sri Lanka
A senior European judge has suggested changing the court currently considering the Microsoft hearings. According to a letter sent to all parties involved in the case Judge Bo Vesterdorf wants the case moved from the Court of First Instance to the Grand Chamber. There evidence will be heard by a larger panel of judges chaired by Vesterdorf. The case is currently being heard by the brilliantly-named Judge Hubert Legal and four other judges. The changes follow controversy sparked by an article in French magazine Concurrences written by Judge Legal. In the article he described judges' clerks as "ayatollahs of free enterprise" and suggested they can play a more prominent role in cases than judges. His comments upset both clerks and judges. All 25 judges in the court will meet to vote on the proposal once feedback is received from interested parties, according to Reuters which got hold of the letter. Microsoft is appealing a March ruling which imposed €497m fine on the firm and ordered it to change its business practises. More details on Reuters here.® Related stories $5m daily fine beckons for bad boy Microsoft EU balks at Windows Reduced Edition European court to rule on MS sanctions
ReviewReview Acer has always priced its products aggressively, but even we were surprised when we learned the Acer TravelMate 4400LMi could be picked up for less than £700. Yes, you can buy cheaper laptops, but will they boast a 15in screen and ATI Radeon X700 graphics? asks Benny Har-Even.
Far be it from the Reg to make fun of easy targets. But that is at least half of our job isn't it? In our recent coverage of Live8 and eBay we have been referring to Bob Geldof as Saint Bob - a cheap and nasty shot as pointed out by a reader called Dave who, without stooping to cheapness and nastiness, can't even spell Saint Bob's name. I get pissed off with the way you continually refer to Bob Geldorf, as 'Saint Bob'. Its boring, its predictable, its repetetive, its jelousy and envy. Why don't you grow up? When did YOU do any good for the world in the way that Geldorf is trying to? But enough cheap nastiness. We received one fantastic letter last week which had us throwing away our tear-stained notebooks to seize this awesome business opportunity. Good work Paul. DEAR LIVE 8 MY NAME IS DOGLAS MCCCALLUM AND I BE THE BIG BOSS MAN MANAGING DIRECTOR OF EBRAY IN THE UNITTED KLINGDON NOW I APPOLOGISE FOR CONTACTING YOU IN SUCH A MANNER BUT I HAS BEEN TOLD THAT YOUS ARE A PERSON OF HIGH STANDING AND MUCH TRUST THAT I CAN BE RELIYING ON. NOW YOU WILL HAVE BEEN SEEING ON THE TELLY BOX ALL THIS FUSS OVER THE LIVE 8 CONCERT AND THEM FELLAS WHO BEEN SELLIN THEM FREE TICKETS ON THE INTERNET FOR A RIGHT OLD PROFIT UNTIL THIS SCRUFFY BLOKE TOLD EM ALL TO STOP IT. WELL THIS HAS LEFT ME WITH A BIT OF A PROBLEM COS I HAS GONE AND ENDED UP WITH AN AUCTION WEB SITE FULL OF THE THINGS AND I GOT FELLAS OUT THERE WHO ARE WILLING TO PAY OVER $1000 (ONE THOUSAND US DOLLARS) EACH FOR THEM. NOW I IS SAYING TO YOU THAT I DESPERATLY NEED TO GET SHUT OF THESE THINGS COS THEY ONLY HAVE A SHELF LIFE OF 17 (SEVENTEEN) DAYS. I BE ASKING YOU MOST NICELY IF YOU BE LETTING ME GET THESE THINGS OUT THE DOOR AT A GRAND A POP (ONE THOUSAND COCKNEY US DOLLARS) FOR WHICH I WILL SEND YOU 5.25% OF THE FIRST £29.99, 3.25% OF £30 - 599.99 AND 1.75% OF EVERYTHING ELSE AS WELL AS ANY MONEY THAT IT COSTS TO BE USING PHOTOS. YOU CAN BE SEEING IT ON MY WEBSITE HERE http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/fees.html WHAT BE MORE IF THE FELLAS WHO BE BUYING EM BE PAYING WITH PAYPAL I BE GIVING YOU 3.4% OF ANY TRANSACTION AS WELL AS 20P ON TOP. NOW I BE TRUSTING YOU TO KEEP THE SCRUFFY IRISH FELLA OUT OF THIS. I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING YOUR QUICK REPLY DOGLAS As long as no one tells Saint Bob we'll all be millionaires. Returning briefly to cheap and nastiness, well it is the Letters page, we had a mail from Mike about Microsoft P-2P network Avalanche. Mike accuses Microsoft of liberating other people's ideas and remarketing them as their own. Blimey whatever next? If I'm reading this right, Microsoft Research has essentially tacked a parity file-like system on to a BitTorrent-like system. Microsoft cobbling together others' ideas again - should we really be that surprised? PAR for the course I guess. On an altogether darker note we have received disturbing information relating to our ongoing campaign to counter the Rise of the Machines. Waldo, the hospital robot which ran riot in California, clearly comes from a bad family - this Dalek is heading for an ASBO. A secret squirrel emailed us this titbit: Actually Elvis [one of Waldo's automoton colleagues] has had an incident where it knocked over a mobile computer. Basically a laptop on a wheeled cart. Apparently Elvis was unable to negotiate around this unit and accidentally knocked it over. Yes this is true. I work at UCSF We've also received a mountain of emails telling us why the MI5 website refers to espionage as the world's second oldest profession. There was general agreement as to the world's oldest profession, although I think Susan had a point when she put pottery in first place and prostitution in second place. Reg reader John was one of many who put us right: The reference is probably biblical. Spying would be the second oldest profession as Joshua (in the book of Joshua) sends out two men to spy on Jericho. To assist them they enlist the aid of Rahab, an inhabitant of Jericho, and a practioner of the world's oldest profession. Thus "harlots" were around before spies (at least according to the Bible). The reference is Joshua II, 1: "And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying. Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there." Hope this helps. All the best. While we're on a Biblical tip we return, very briefly, to that wacky theory of evolution which sparked a mountain of mail when we reported on US scientists fighting back against creationism. Reg reader George blames Britain for deporting the wrong people. It's *your* damn fault. You sent all those damn Puritans here and let the Australians have the fun-loving criminals. What? Did they get first pick? We've been paying the price ever since.
PayPal is to remove internal comments regarding its protection for sellers that it accidentally published on its website. Under a section outlining the protection Paypal provides sellers, the online payment outfit wrote: "PayPal protects sellers in ways that many other financial institutions don't. For instance, card issuers often charge for their fraud prevention tools, but at PayPal you'll find the same tools for free. Not only that, but unlike many of our competitors, PayPal's fraud experts work behind the scenes, monitoring activity and possible fraud indicators to help ensure an extremely safe network." So far, so good. It went on: "Should any suspicious activity occur, PayPal will either alert you either by email or by a representative calling you. But PayPal doesn't stop there. We offer you [excellent] [too strong I think given the limited ability to comply with SPP] chargeback protection, too. Card issuers frequently put buyers' needs before merchants' needs. That means chargeback disputes are often an uphill battle for sellers. PayPal is equally concerned about both its buyers and sellers. That's why, should a buyer file a dispute, we will act as a mediator between both parties often resolving the situation before a chargeback is filed. If mediation fails and the buyer files a chargeback, PayPal will use evidence provided by the seller to investigate wrongful chargebacks. In these ways, PayPal offers a uniquely comprehensive level of protection for sellers. [Did we want to also mention SPP?] Asked to comment on why the use of "excellent" was "too strong I think given the limited ability to comply with SPP" (Seller Protection Policy) a spokesman for PayPal said: "The notes on the site were internal comments and are being removed. The use of the word excellent will remain." In a statement the company added: "We stand by the use of the word 'excellent' to describe our protection programmes for sellers. The note on the site was simply an internal question raised by a member of our team. In order to qualify for Seller Protection Policy, which offers £3,250 coverage in the event of a chargeback, sellers must comply with our terms and conditions, which are actually very straightforward." "We do not feel that PayPal users' ability to comply with the terms and conditions are at all limited." ® Related stories eBayers banned for wrecking Live 8 ticket auctions Don't flog Live 8 tickets on eBay, pleads eBay eBay bows to Saint Bob over Live 8
Doctor Who has ousted Star Trek as the favourite cult TV programme, according to a poll of genre fans. It's the first time in 10 years that the Star Trek franchise has been demoted from top berth in an annual poll of Cult TV Festival attendees. Newcomers to the chart include SF serial Firefly (in with a bolt at number 16), 24 (22), and CSI (25). These mingle with traditional favourites such as Blake's 7 (5), The Avengers (7) and The Prisoner (8). Saturday (17 June) marked the season finale of the revamped version of Doctor Who, seen by an estimated 6.2m viewers on BBC1, a 41.8 per cent audience share. A BBC spokeswoman said that figures were lower than previous episodes probably because warm weather kept many people away from their TVs. ® Related stories BBC green lights Doctor Who series 3 Eccleston quits as Dr Who 2 gets green light Fears grow for kidnapped Dalek Missing Dalek found on Glastonbury Tor
Irish telecoms outfit Digiweb has snapped up Tiscali's Italian satellite broadband business. Financial details were not disclosed. Digiweb already operates its two-way satellite broadband service in Germany, France, the UK and Austria, and the acquisition of Tiscali's Italian sat business extends its European footprint. It looks like Digiweb is keen to buy other operators. It is currently evaluating similar acquisitions in Europe and Ireland including wireless/satellite operators and software firms. "This is the first of our aggressive expansions throughout Europe and indeed globally," said Digiweb's Ops manager Declan Campbell. Although the company has plans to expand in Europe, it plans to create more jobs in Ireland to help support the business. ® Related stories Eircom launches sometimes-on broadband Liberty, UGC complete merger NTL flogs Irish cableco
Readers worried that their female partners may be faking it can now rest easy. As long you keep brain scanner close at hand in the bedroom, you’ll be able to find out if you really are the best, the best, the best, or whether she’s actually running through the shopping list ahead of your next trip to Safeways. A group of researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands – where else - scanned the brains of 13 women and 11 men as they were brought to orgasm by their partners. The resulting brain images were compared to images of the subjects’ brains while at rest. Reuters reports that the researchers told a fertility conference today that when the women were experiencing a genuine humdinger of an orgasm, areas of the brain governing fear and emotion, such as the cortex, were deactivated. However, when the women faked orgasm, those areas stayed alert. The results for men were less conclusive, with those areas linked to emotion and fear showing less de-activation during orgasm, while other areas showed more stimulation. This of course is no surprise at all - as it’s hard to super-impose Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt/St Bob Geldof/Margaret Thatcher over your regular partner's visage without using at least some parts of your brain. There was no mention of whether the results may have been affected by the fact the couples were being watched by a bunch of geeks in white coats while at least one partner had their head connected to a machine that goes bing. ® Related stories Big-O problems may be down to genes Boffins pinpoint trust hormone SF hosts 'Masturbate-a-thon' Gamble or get orgasm tips on your mobile
Google will launch electronic payment services later this year going head-to-head with PayPal which, thanks partly to help from eBay, is currently leading the field. Google's Wallet service has no official confirmation but has been blamed for a two per cent fall in eBay's share price this morning - eBay owns PayPal. A spokeswoman at Google UK was unable to comment at press time. The New York Times spoke to a leading online merchant, who insisted on anonymity, who told the paper he'd been appraoched by Google about the new service. The paper also quoted Scot Wingo, chief exec of ChannelAdvisor, a consultancy for etailers, who said he had heard about the service from clients. A spokeswoman for PayPal told the NYT that she'd heard the rumours too but had no other comment.® Related stories Google finds web-only video clips Google Books under fire Microsoft vs Google heats up
Michael Robertson has given up day-to-day control of Linspire and is leaving the company in the hands of new CEO Kevin Carmony. Robertson said, on his blog, that he wants to spend more time with his two other companies, Mp3tunes.com and Sipphone.com, which allows customers to make free long distance phone calls. However, Robertson says he will continue to advise Linspire on strategic matters. "To maximize my purpose, I have decided to make the move to Chairman of Linspire," Robertson wrote. "I've turned the CEO title over to Kevin Carmony, Linspire's long-time President. He started Linspire while I was still at MP3.com and is officially the first Linspire employee. "He's a tremendous leader and knows Linspire better than anyone in the world. I'm excited to see him build on Linspire's momentum and take it to the next level where there will be millions of Linspire users. As Chairman, I'm still actively involved with Linspire and care more about it than ever, but this will give me more time to devote to some of my other projects." Robertson fought a long battle with Microsoft, which didn't like the name Lindows for a Linux product. Finally, Robertson agreed to drop the Lindows name from its software and change it to Linspire. In return, Microsoft dropped its legal action and gave the company $20m. Linspire earlier this year boasted only 350,000 users, half of whom paid for extra services.® Related stories Linux on desktop needs better sales people Linspire debuts Linspire 5.0 Linux maker sprouts MP3 server
Thousands of call centre workers are at risk of damaging their health because they talk too much. British trade union UNISON claims one in 50 call centre workers is at risk from this "industrial disease" adding that "voice loss" is costing the UK £200m a year, a figure set to double over the next ten years. UNISON wants employers to do more to minimise the threat to people's health. In particular, it wants to ensure that UK's 860,000 call centre workers receive regular voice breaks and have access to fresh drinking water. And if workers have colds or sore throats, they should also be excused from phone work so as not to damage their voices. "For years employers ignored the dangers of asbestos and denied that RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) existed, with the result that workers and companies paid a high price," said UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis. "Now call centres are in danger of falling into the same trap by ignoring the growing risk of voice loss in the workforce. He went on: "Call centres are a voice-driven industry and employers need to protect that most precious asset now, or face the human and legal consequences later. Call centre managers have been warned - they cannot feign ignorance of the problem - and they cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand. Prentis said: "UNISON is demanding urgent action before the problem spirals out of control." ® Related stories MPs accuse BT of 'exploiting low wages in China' More outsourcing = more unhappiness Offshoring benefits UK job market
Foundry Networks has a busy summer ahead with a revamp of two major product lines and the launch of its first security-centric products. Bob Schiff, Foundry's VP of product marketing, described it as the largest product launch in Foundry's nine year history. The SecureIron, due in August, is a family LAN switch with integrated deep packet inspection designed to thwart hacking attacks. As part of its SecureIron range, Foundry is also launching Security Traffic Manager which allows firms to balance traffic across their existing firewall and IDS products. There's general agreement across the industry that firms need better application defences to thwart increasingly sophisticated hacker attacks or worm outbreaks. But vendors are split on whether to deliver this protection at the firewall, through dedicated security appliances or using traffic management software. Foundry argues that by building this technology into LAN switches firms can get by with fewer devices. Next month Foundry plans to release a new family of switches aimed at the enterprise - the RX Series - to replace its existing BigIron Layer 2-3 technology. The BigIron RX series features third generation 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology, priced to appeal to mid to large enterprise customers requiring higher bandwidth. Very few firms need 10GbE at present but Foundry's technology is designed to give them headroom for expansion over the estimated six years lifetime of the kit during which time firms might be installing bandwidth-hungry applications such as IP TV. Three-quarters of Foundry's business is in the enterprise where the firm sells a full range of products (wireless LAN kit, LAN switches and load balancers) and claims a market share of 6-7 per cent. In the service provider market, Foundry is best known for its switching technology but the firm is renewing its assault on the router market (where it enjoys a market share of just 0.5 per cent) with a major upgrade to its flagship telco product, the NetIron XMR. The NetIron XMR offers Ethernet switching, IP routing with MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching - a traffic management protocol) support at a tenth of the price compared to Cisco and Juniper, Foundry claims. Schiff said Foundry would still be able to turn a profit at these lower prices by taking advantage of advances in networking technology. "The service provider market has not seen the price declines that the enterprise has witnessed because it has been held captive by two vendors. We want to give service providers a serious alternative to Cisco and Juniper," he said. US-based manufacture Foundry has annual revenues of $400m and 675 workers so it's a significant player but Schiff is realistic enough to know it won't be prizing away the BT or France Telecom account from Cisco anytime soon. "We'll be going head to head with Cisco and Juniper in tier 2/3 accounts," he said. ® Related stories Foundry beefs up high-end Gig switches Pulse detected in data networking market Foundry pours Wi-Fi into melting pot
Veritas and IBM have firmed up their ties with a new reselling agreement that will see Big Blue ship some of Veritas' better known software products with its servers. In particular, IBM will resell the Veritas Cluster Server product and the Storage Foundation product - which includes Veritas' file system and volume manager. These software packages will be promoted alongside IBM's Xeon-based servers and its fleet of Xeon- and Opteron-based blades. IBM hopes to target customers running Red Hat or SuSE Linux and Microsoft's Windows operating systems with the reselling deal. "We believe the Veritas products will add value to what already is one of the most robust, reliable and available x86 server lines on the market, and also help make it easier for our mutual customers in their server consolidation efforts to Linux and Windows on xSeries and BladeCenter servers," said Jim Northington, a VP at IBM. Veritas and IBM have partnered in the server arena for some time. While most of its business still revolves around Sun's Solaris OS, Veritas has been trying to promote other server vendors' versions of Unix and Linux where possible. Along those lines, it has bulked up support for IBM's AIX OS in recent years. Now, however, the vendors have teamed to attack the x86 server market. IBM will resell all the major versions of the Veritas products, including Storage Foundation for Oracle RAC and Storage Foundation for Databases, including DB2. IBM helps a number of ISVs land business and has been a particular fan of VMware in the x86 realm. Both VMware and Veritas give standard x86 systems more Unix-like features, turning the commodity gear into higher-end hardware. ® Related stories Xen grows up with SMP server slicer IBM goes compute crazy with bladed Opteron cluster Storage software sales surge Veritas embraces 64-bit Windows/Linux on Opteron Veritas goes hetero with new NetBackup
The US Supreme Court has declined to issue a ruling on the MGM v. Grokster case today, as it had been expected to do. There is one week left in the Court's schedule this season, so it is likely that there will either be an answer next Monday, or none this session. At issue is whether P2P network operators Grokster and StreamCast should be held liable for users' copyright infringement. Since they do not host or control the data on the networks, it has been hoped that the Supremes will let them off the hook for the actions of others. There is no word on the cause of the delay, and no indication of whether the case will be decided this session. It remains likely that a decision will be announced next Monday, although it is possible that the Court might issue it later this week, or order an additional round of arguments that would push the decision into the next session. Decisions are typically released on Mondays, but observers are now hoping for word on Thursday, 23 June. ® Related stories Supremes leery of P2P ban P2P promises economic Valhalla - Grokster et al Supreme Court to probe P2P in March
The number of flaws in computer security products is rising sharply and threatens to become more of a problem than vulnerabilities in the products they are designed to protect, a study by Yankee Group out Monday warns. In the 15-month period between January 2004 and March 2005, security vendors reported 77 separate vulnerabilities and the rate is going up. Based on current Trends, Yankee reckons the number of vulnerabilities for security products this year will top 2004 levels by as much as 50 per cent. Exploits targeting flaws in security products have yet to prove much of a problem with the Witty worm, which spread using a security bug in ISS's desktop firewall product, the only mass exploit to date. But Yankee warns against any complacency on this score. "Security researchers — whether they wear white, gray or black hats — are increasingly less interested in poking holes in desktop operating systems," said Andrew Jaquith, Yankee Group senior analyst in Security Solutions & Services. "A more fascinating and profitable area exists in finding vulnerabilities in the products meant to defend against the attacks themselves. It is time for the security vendors to stand up and make their own products more secure before they become preferred conduits for professionally designed malware." Back in the day, PCs could be protected by just a decent firewall and anti-virus. But as newer threats, such as spyware and spam, have forced users to rely on a greater range of security products thereby increasing the potential that users might trip over security glitches in their defensive kit. Yankee Group urges vendors to further protect customers by comprehensive testing before product release, and by reviewing the entire code base for potentially dangerous functions. ® Related stories Witty attacks your firewall and destroys your data Witty worm traced to 'Patient Zero' PC-cillin killed my PC Anti-virus vulnerabilities strike again BitDefender bug bites GFI Red alert over Symantec firewall flaw
Microsoft has given its European head a promotion, putting him in charge of its international sales, marketing and services efforts as president of Microsoft International. Jean-Philippe Courtois, formerly chief executive officer of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), will have overall responsibility for Microsoft operations in Japan, China, the Asia Pacific region, Latin America, public sector and emerging markets, as well as in EMEA. Neil Holloway, formerly corporate vice president of sales, marketing and services for EMEA, has been named president of Microsoft EMEA, with responsibility for operations. He will continue to report to Courtois, who becomes a Microsoft SVP. Meanwhile Courtois will continue reporting to Kevin Johnson, Microsoft's group VP of worldwide sales, marketing and services. Courtois has served as co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Digital Divide Initiative Task Force and is a member of the South African International Advisory Council on Information Society and Development. ® Related stories Microsoft Business Solutions gets new UK head New top dog for MS Europe's public sector MS UK recruits FBI man MS appoints eGovt. strategy chief
How many quotations does it take to screw a server vendor? As it turns out - two. A renegade former Compaq customer has dished the dirt on its move into Sun Microsystems' clutches. Australian utility ActewAGL pumped a Sun press release full of criticism for HP's shift away from Alpha/Tru64 servers to systems running on Intel's infamous Itanium chip. Sun used the quotes to try to prove that its HP Away campaign is working as planned and bringing in big business. "We no longer had any faith in HP's Tru64 technology and required alternative systems to provide 64-bit computing capability," said Carsten Larsen, CIO at ActewAGL. "Upon looking at what the market had to offer, we chose Sun Fire systems and the Solaris OS because it provided a simple yet robust, cost-effective solution." And that's not all. "We had reached the end of the line with our HP AlphaServer platform," added Debesh Halder, manager of Unix systems at ActewAGL. "The technology was four years old and struggling to cope with increased demand. However, we were not keen to move to the HP-Intel developed Itanium architecture, which is a relatively new technology. We were looking for a stable, proven platform and Sun was it." Sun and HP have long engaged in a tit-for-tat struggle to pull customers from each other via various promotions. Typically, one vendor will offer free services or test hardware to customers in order to prove that its systems are cheaper and faster than rival gear. Given that both Sun and HP have been knocked about by IBM and Dell in recent quarters, one has to wonder if the hate campaigns are really paying off. That said, Sun has set a new high with the latest win by being the first vendor in memory to get two customer quotations from the same customer in a single press release. That's the stuff of legend. Sun's press release editors, however, may have wanted to take a closer look at the statement that reads, "The migration to Sun has resulted in significant benefits for ActewAGL, including an average 50 percent improvement in performance, lower maintenance costs and ease of infrastructure management." Fifty percent better improvement over a four year-old box? Not quite as legendary, especially when you consider that Sun's systems now ship with dual-core chips. Surely this was a typo. Bashing aside, the ActewAGL move away from HP does point to the incredible pain many customers feel over the Itanic embrace. Thousands of former Compaq customers have watched Tru64 be mauled and then seen key features in HP-UX get pushed back again and again. In addition, both Alpha and PA-RISC customers are being asked to embrace the rusty hulk of the Itanium as the flagship of their future data centers. Users group studies here and here show how unfavorably customers have reacted to the Itanic vice. ® Related stories Xen grows up with SMP server slicer IBM goes compute crazy with bladed Opteron cluster US SEC curious about HP CEO's stock sales - report RACK goes Nasdaq with humble IPO
Broadcom, which launched two patent lawsuits against Qualcomm, says the US trade commission is investigating the issue. Broadcom claims that Qualcomm is importing microprocessors for cellphones which infringe its patents. Last month Broadcom asked the US International Trade Commission to block the import of the allegedly infriging chips. It claims ten of its patents are being infringed. The ITC is expected to hand down a ruling in the second half of next year. Qualcomm maintains the claims are without merit and today said the ITC investigation was routine. The two companies remain close partners on a number of initiatives including integrating Bluetooth into 3G silicon. Neither company is a stranger to the courts. Broadcom has settled three battles in recent years, with Intel, Microtune and Agere, and on each occasion paid cash to settle licensing issues or litigation costs. Qualcomm last week settled a dispute with Skyworks by entering into a cross licensing agreement with the company. The settlement follows Qualcomm's unsuccessful appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court in a dispute over cross-licensing CDMA IP with Texas Instruments. The existing cross licensing deal was upheld. ® Related stories Global 3G boost for Qualcomm Qualcomm waives damages to keep loyalty royalties secret Broadcom sues seven over 'stolen' chip secrets Broadcom bags Cirrus storage patents
It's a fair cop, and we're guilty. There never was an "Osborne Effect," and the fate of Osborne Computer wasn't sealed by pre-announcing hardware that didn't exist. The phrase has been much in use this month, after Apple pre-announced its intention to move to Intel hardware that doesn't exist. But leave poor old Adam out of it, say readers familiar with the industry in the early 1980s. Usenet veteran Charles Eicher was "the repair geek who could fix any Osborne," he tells us, "even the factory sent me some of the machines they couldn't fix." Charles offers a caveat about the figures, but condenses the tale told by Osborne himself in Hypergrowth, the 1985 memoir co-authored with John C Dvorak: "They had transitioned to a new model, and it was finally shipping. Sales were going well, and money was flowing back into the company after months of postponed sales (the alleged Osborne Effect). But then a VP discovered the company had $150k of fully equipped motherboards from the previous model, but no parts to build them out, no CRTs, RAM or floppy disk drives, and in worst of all, no plastic cases and bezels. The injection molding company that made the complex Osborne cases had already destroyed the molds since the product was discontinued and no further orders were expected." "The VP pitched Osborne to build out the old models, so they could get some money out of their stock of old parts, but Osborne didn't realize what sort of expenditures would be involved. Before Osborne pulled the plug, the VP spent $2 million to build out the $150k of old parts, the biggest expense was getting the injection molding company to build new molds and start up production on cases. Osborne described this as the classic example of 'throwing good money after bad.'" "So that was what really killed Osborne. They had made the transition to the new model, sure sales had slowed for a while, but they were starting to show a profit. Then after the transition, a rogue VP made some really bad decisions that sucked all the money out of the company, and sank it into debt at a time when it couldn't afford ANY new debt. And then when Osborne realized what happened, the company died." Dvorak confirms the story, and thinks that people are really getting their micro pioneers mixed up. Think North Star, he says - "The pre-announcemnt myth used in the desktop computer business stems from the late 1970's. It came from within the microcomputer industry which was unprofessionally run and where everything was played by ear as entrepreneurs made up their own rules and axioms as they went along." "The pre-announcement fiasco stems from around 1978 when North Star Computers, one of the two or three major hardware companies at the time, was selling a disk controller for the first 5 1/4-inch floppy drives. With a subsystem you got their OS and their BASIC, which by all accounts was superiror to Microsoft BASIC since it did BCD math which engineers needed. "One day the company announced that it it had developed and would market a double density controller doubling the disk capacity from 80K to 160K, as I recall. There was no product to ship, it was a preannouncement. Furthermore, the company said it would sell the new controller for the exact same price. "Sales of the old controller stopped dead and the company nearly went broke scrambling to produce the new controller. This is where the myth began." "Note that the company did not go broke in the process. They ALMOST went broke. I know of no instance where anyone went broke with a pre-accouncement. It's possible, but I'm sure, as with Osborne, it just looked that way and there were real and more substantial underlying reasons. "The North Star example of the risks of preannouncing continued as an anecdotal myth until about 1990 when the specifics of the situation were mostly forgotten and it - the pre-announcement bogeyman - became essentially an urban legend that is told to new marketing people to scare them." And, he points out, pre-announcements never killed anyone: "just look at Microsoft (or IBM before them)." Thanks to Charles and John. Now who will tell that highly emergent oracle, Wikipedia? Or Answers.com, or the Opentopia, or ... ® Related stories The Osborne Effect spooks Apple Waiting for Intel, Apple faces massive Osborne chill Obituary: Adam Osborne 1939-2003 Portable computer pioneer Adam Osborne dies
Level 5 Networks on Monday cobbled together a banner announcement session for a start-up, as the company delivered word of $30m in venture funding and released its first product under the EtherFabric brand. Never heard of Level 5? You're not alone. The 50 or so employee company based in Sunnyvale, California dabbles deep in the data center. It's looking to extend the life of Ethernet by speeding up the way servers deal with networking traffic. This isn't the type of thing you'd want to talk about over a beer, unless you're a loyal Register reader. Illuminata's Gordon Haff does a nice job of explaining Level 5's approach to modernizing Ethernet as we head towards 10 GbE networks and their associated latency problems. "Level 5’s 'EtherFabric' essentially replaces the OS’s TCP/IP stack with a dynanic link library in user space that then talks directly to the EtherFabric card without normally having to communicate or copy data to the TCP/IP stack within the operating system. (This boundary crossing is where a lot of TCP/IP’s inefficiency comes from.) Level 5 claims a 2x improvement in CPU efficiency and latency reductions to less than 10 microseconds-similar to InfiniBand." This approach has proved interesting enough to the likes of Oak Investment Partners, Accel Partners, Amadeus Capital Partners and IDG Ventures for them to shove $30m in front of Level 5. These investors will watch anxiously to see how the new EtherFabric (Isn't that what Hunter S. made dreams out of? - Ed.) NIC sells. The adapter ships as a 2-port. 1Gbit/s device that slots into your typical rackmount server. It should help speed up web and application serving tasks as well as cluster performance and will sell at $295 in high volume or $495 in low volume. Level 5's approach is somewhat similar to that of Alacritech, which makes a TOE (TCP/IP Offload Engine) card designed primarily for storage networks. The idea with the Alacritech product is again to offload some networking traffic and free up processors to handle heavy data crunching. Companies such as Sun Microsystems and Intel are looking to build similar functions into their multicore server processors. Purely on the server side of the market, Level 5 gives customers the option of sticking with their existing Ethernet networks instead of moving to something like Infiniband or iWarp. "If Level 5’s various claims prove out, it’s an intriguing approach," Haff writes. "Especially the transparency to applications and standard Ethernet switches. But one big challenge for Level 5 Networks is that, if its technology were built onto system boards, the delivered value would be pretty clear. (We observed something similar when we looked at Symbium’s lights-out management board a few weeks back. But, in the nearer term, when customers need to buy the capability in the form of an add-on thrid-party board and then install third-party software, the win is less immediately obvious. At the very least, it requires a conscious effort on the part of an end-user customer." More information on the Level 5 NIC can be found here. ® Related stories Intel ships 'multi-threading friendly' compilers Larry Ellison's storage toy goes after EMC and NetApp Fans urge ICANN celebrity blogger to keep on blogging Intel determined to dominate storage market Intel to attack greedy TCP/IP stack
Episode 19Episode 19 "OK," The PFY says looking over the inside of The Boss's machine. "I'll take a quick look at it, but at this stage I'm fairly certain that it'll just need a new seal and a smoke recharge and be back up and running in no time." "Sorry, did you say smoke recharge?" "Yeah?" "What do you mean?" "Well, obviously the smoke seal's gone which is why you saw it. If we replace the seal and recharge the smoke it'll probably be as good as new." "What are you talking about?!" "Your machine." "I know you're talking about my machine but what's all this crap about smoke recharges!?" The Boss snaps irately. "Okay, your machine gave out a bit of smoke and died - yes?" "Yes." "Which is why I suspect the smoke seal on one of the chips has gone, letting out the smoke and causing the machine to fail." "Which smoke seal?" "I don't know yet, I'll have to test the chips." "Test them for what?!" "To see if the smoke's got out." "What the hell are you talking about, there's no smoke in chips!" "What?" The PFY asks in jus the right tone to imply doubts as to The Boss' sanity. "Computer chips - they don't have smoke in them!" "Ah" I weigh in. "I think you might be a little mistaken - most microelectronic devices have smoke in them." "Rubbish!" "Course they do!" "Ridiculous!" "Well how do you think electronic devices work then?" "They're collections of transistors.." "And how do transistors work?" "Silicon junctions?" The Boss responds, slightly unsettling me with his in-depth knowledge. "Some are silicon, some are germanium. But they're not pure silicon, because it's not actually conductive." "nyyeeess" The Boss says slowly, indicating that we're (thankfully) at the outer regions of his knowledge. "So an impurity is introduced to the silicon to make it a partial conductor." "Mmmm," The Boss says, verging on the mental depletion zone we call Dummy mode. All I need now is a little gate voltage to his mental mosfet and... "And the addition of an impurity is called doping and the dope we're talking about in this case is managerium, a very very dopey compound" *** DUMMY MODE ON! *** "Managerium?" The Boss repeats doubtfully. "I've never heard of it." "I'm not surprised," I respond, pullstarting the bullshit generator "Whilst it's extremely commonplace extraction of pure managerium is extremely rare. It is one of the last elements in the periodic table and with an atomic weight of 347, it's extremely dense." "Uhh... huh..." The Boss mumbles, indicating that his mental "bag full" light is on, only I can't stop because I'm on a roll. "So the silicon is doped with Managerium in a process known as superdoping to make the basic junctions required for microelectronics. Superdoping involves the fusion of managerium particles onto a silicon wafer in microscopic amounts." "YES YES, I SEE, BUT WHAT THE HELL'S THIS GOT TO DO WITH SMOKE!?!!" "AS I WAS ABOUT TO SAY," I continue. "The microscopic amounts are achieved by superheating managerium so that it changes from a solid directly into a gas - a process known as sublimation." "Managerium being well known as a subliminal material," The PFY adds, stealing my in-joke. "Yes." "And so when the smoke seal in a chip breaks the Managerium is free to break it's covalent bond, resulting in a gas which looks - because of Managerium's denseness - like smoke." "So when a computer has smoke coming out of it, it's really Managerium escaping?!" The Boss asks "Exactly?" "Is the gas harmful?!" The Boss gasps. "Uhhh...." I say, haltingly. "What is it?" he gasps again. "I may have inhaled some - I certainly smelt something!!!" "Well the good news is that if you're affected by it you'd never know as it affects the mental system - although it IS a cumulative poison." "Well what are the symptoms if it's bad?" "I... I'm not sure. I know you get headaches." "Headaches?!" The Boss blurts, grabbing his forehead. "Increasing amounts of Amnesia is another symptom. It starts out with small things and just gets worse and worse." The PFY adds. "How much worse?!!!!" "Well, advanced cases forget everyday things like the names of people they just met, license plates of cars they used to own, their dreams, the last thing they read before they put a book down at night - that sort of thing - but I mean that's only the really bad cases." "Bloody Hell," The Boss gasps, rushing from the room gripping his head tightly. The ambulance was overdoing it a little, but he did insist after I "remembered" that inability to concentrate was an indication of a near fatal dose of the material that had an atomic weight of 347 which was actually almost same as a combination and Uranium and Silver both noted for their relative paucity in conjunction with quartz deposits in the African subcon..... "So do you think we should replace the faulty power supply?" The PFY asks, pointing past the fan to the huge scorch mark where a capacitor used to be "Nah, chuck it in the bin. And if he asks - we never had this conversation and he never brought his machine in..." BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 Get BOFH Books here BOFH is copyright © 1995-2005, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
CommentComment In Australia the Federal Government is looking at introducing a fair use style exemption to our copyright law. Yes I know … it’s hard to believe, but in Australia you can’t legally back up your music CDs, or even rip a CD you have paid for, so you can convert it into an iPod compatible format. You can’t even legally use your VCR or DVD recorder to record “Lust” or “Horny Housewives” so you can watch these TV programs later. Talk about a nation built on piracy … oops … I mean time shifting.