21st > June > 2005 Archive

Employment Practices Data Protection Code: now consolidated

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published the first complete volume of the Employment Practices Data Protection Code, providing guidance for employers when dealing with data protection issues affecting their workers. “Developments in technology, changes in the law and new working practices are putting the spotlight on workers’ privacy,” said Assistant Commissioner David Smith. “By publishing the Employment Practices Data Protection Code we are providing employers with a complete manual on data protection in the workplace.” “The common sense approach outlined in the Code will encourage and help employers to comply with data protection requirements,” he added. The Code of Practice is a consolidation of a series of four smaller guides relating to recruitment and selection, employee records, monitoring at work and medical information. It is based on the Data Protection Act of 1998 and should be followed by every employer. The 1998 legislation places responsibilities on any organisation to process personal data that it holds in a fair and proper way. Failure to do so can amount to a criminal offence. Although the Code contains guidance and is not legally binding, it provides the benchmarks that the Commissioner will use when deciding whether or not to enforce the Act. Consequently, organisations would be well advised to consider its contents very carefully. The Code is accompanied by supplementary guidance that provides explanatory notes, examples and frequently asked questions to help readers who want a more in depth understanding. A summary guide, aimed specifically at small businesses, has also been published. This outlines the key points any business should consider in order to meet its obligations under the Act. The Code, Guidance and Summary will be available from the Commissioner's Codes of Practice page, although technical difficulties prevented them from being uploaded at the time of writing. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related stories Investigators uncover dismal data disposal Guidelines for FOIA stragglers Compliance costs UK.biz dear
OUT-LAW.COM, 21 Jun 2005
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SOA ready for the masses?

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is the Big Thing of the moment – taking the last Big Thing of Web Services and moving towards the next Big Thing of Utility / Grid Computing. Well, that’s what the vendors want you to believe, anyway – and with the majority of vendors agreeing on one thing – that SOA can be spun to their benefit – we’re seeing a hell of a lot of marketing and advertising in this area. But we’ve been here before, and as any crusty bearded, sandal-wearing IT elder will tell you, there is little new within the concept of SOA that couldn’t be done via re-usable code, callable routines, object orientation and the like a decade or two ago. So, is SOA the next Big Con (or even just one of many), or is there something tangible in it for today’s businesses? For Quocirca, there was only way to find out – we interviewed a large number of senior IT influencers and decision makers on their views of SOA and assessed the situation using information straight from the horses mouth. Out of the 1,365 interviewees, 476 were deemed to be “informed” through having investigated SOA in depth – a group that we will call the “SOA Gurus”. This group have been there, are doing SOA, have the T-shirt and often the scars to prove that they have struggled through the jungle of hype and over-optimism often offered by the vendors. The views of these 476 should – if consistent – point the way for the rest of us as to whether SOA is viable or not. And their view? When asked if they felt that SOA had provided distinct benefits to them, only four respondents (less than one per cent) felt it didn’t. From the other 99+ per cent, we got pretty unambiguous declarations of benefits across a range of areas – streamlining development and maintenance, reducing integration time and overhead, and generally enabling IT to help the business through better responsiveness. And consistency was high – meaning that if SOA is really a dog, then the vendors have finally found the way of fooling all of the people all of the time. We also looked at whether interviewees felt that the adoption of SOA by application software vendors such as Oracle, SAP and Siebel was important and of benefit. Over 70 per cent of respondents felt that it was, which is not surprising given the past issues of integrating and interfacing packaged applications. Respondents also felt that SOA and Web Services were intimately linked – and that the use of web services within an SOA environment would open up their systems so that they could optimise the value chain across their own and their partners’ organisations. Given the myriad of ever changing standards and technologies in the B2B transaction space, we hope that our gurus are right that Web Services and SOA will have an impact. The Gurus' optimism also came through in their attitude towards SOA, web services and hosted applications. They felt that SOA/web services would provide an easier opening into dealing with the technical issues of implementing hosted solutions that need to integrate with internal systems Considered overall, what we are beginning to hear is not simply an acceptance of SOA being something that may have promise for the organisation - but a high level of understanding (at least amongst those that have checked it out properly) of what an SOA can achieve and its interdependencies with other technical areas such as web services. However, the main finding has to be that the Gurus are looking to SOA as a long term strategic tool to help the business – moving the IT infrastructure to being more responsive, allowing businesses to break through the corporate “glass walls” to enable processes to work at a high level of fidelity along the value chain of partners, and the added possibility of utilising the capabilities of hosted functionality more easily to fill gaps in a company’s own capabilities. The full findings of this research can be found in Quocirca’s report “SOA: Substance or Hype?”, available free of charge here. © Quocirca Related stories BEA thinks liquid with SOA rollout SOA is not open - discuss Politics hurting web services - Gartner IBM: we have simplified our software Grid computing: a real-world solution? IBM has moment of SOA clarity OASIS to define SOA
Clive Longbottom, 21 Jun 2005
homeless man with sign

Moseley mops up Proxim’s assets

Once a top three wireless LAN player and with a peak share price of $250, Proxim filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week with its shares down at 32 cents, less than three per cent share of the Wi-Fi market, and facing delisting from the Nasdaq exchange. Its first action was to sell “substantially all assets” to Moseley Associates, a Californian holding company that is assembling an interesting portfolio of wireless companies. Proxim appeared to be expert at spotting key industry trends, jumping early into enterprise WLans; snapping up a broadband wireless player, Western Multiplex, before the WiMAX bubble inflated; making a strategic alliance with Motorola and Avaya for wireless VoIP just before that technology hit all the headlines. But the company struggled to keep its position against a dominant Cisco, a host of start-ups and spiralling prices in the WLAN space, and fumbled the move towards switches; while despite an important reference platform alliance with Intel on the WiMAX front, it managed the merger and the shift towards broadband wireless badly, suffering from product delays and structural inefficiencies. Once it lost a $22.75m dollar patent lawsuit to rival Symbol last year, the writing was on the wall and it was estimated that, although the company was seeking new funding, it would have needed to raise $100m to be debt-free. Moseley will pay $21m for its new subsidiary and will provide $6.2m of bridge financing until the deal is closed. Proxim stockholders are not expected to see proceeds of the sale, according to the Proxim statement, although it owed investors about $80m in the event of a material asset sale. The Moseley deal will need to be approved by the bankruptcy court. Assuming it goes through, Moseley expects to continue to support and develop Proxim’s key ranges, the Orinoco WLAN and Tsunami pre-WiMAX lines. These will fit well into its wireless portfolio, which it has been expanding aggressively through acquisition. Many wireless vendors are looking to create an end-to end platform from point-to-point backhaul technologies to consumer access, and Moseley’s portfolio now offers this, with a particular expertise in the broadcasting market. Moseley had revenues of over $90m pre-tax earnings of $20m last year, and about 300 employees (excluding Proxim), about 100 of these engineers. Its products range from 9.6Kbps to 311Mbps in performance in spectrum bands from 200MHz to 38Ghz and it targets broadcasters (its original market), service providers and large enterprises. In the WiMAX market, it owns Axxcelera, which recently announced its ExcelMAX 802.16 products and also specializes in point-to-point backhaul solutions. It is not clear how these products will be integrated with, or differentiated from, those of its new stablemate. Other Moseley acquisitions since 2000 include Microwave Data Systems, which makes industrial broadband wireless solutions for applications like public safety; Moseley Broadcast; and CarrierComm, which provides the backhaul aspect of the mix, with point-to-point products running in bands from 3.5GHz to 38GHz. Earlier this month, Proxim was notified by the Nasdaq stock exchange that, for the 30 consecutive trading days preceding the date of the letter on June 3, the bid price of the company's common stock had closed below the $1.00 per share minimum required for continued inclusion on the Nasdaq National Market and that it had until November 30 to regain the minimum bid price, or face delisting. Copyright © 2005, 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 Intel launches WiMAX chip WLAN switch makers fight for survival Bloated Wi-Fi market brings out its dead Patent landrush threatens Wi-Fi standards
Wireless Watch, 21 Jun 2005

Nokia shifting to Linux as it joins with Apple to challenge Windows 2

AnalysisAnalysis Nokia’s ambitious bid to make the mobile phone as important a client device for business and leisure as the notebook PC took another important turn last week with news that it has created a browser in collaboration with Apple, which will be managed under the open source process.
Wireless Watch, 21 Jun 2005

Airline passengers love inflight SMS, hate voice calls

The ban on mobile phones on airplanes may soon be lifted, but most people are opposed to their use in-flight for voice calls. That's according to a worldwide survey by IDC which indicated that far from supporting a lifting of the ban by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US, a number of consumer groups claim the use of mobile phones on board airplanes would disturb passengers. Only 11 per cent of the 50,000 respondents would support the use of mobile phones for voice calls while on board an airplane. While the majority of respondents would not approve of passengers making voice calls during flights, some 64 percent of respondents indicated their approval of using mobile phones for data services such as SMS. Of the 11 specified wireless activities, in-flight messaging emerged as the most popular choice among respondents. The survey, which seeks to highlight opportunities for mobile operators in the in-flight market, identifies a correlation between the level of interactivity of a service and the user's interest in that service. "Whether a mobile vendor is interested in the in-flight market or not, the key finding from the survey remains the same: by comprehending the needs and criteria specific to the user segment and location, mobility companies can enhance their products to better serve and target the desired customers and market segments," said Data Thorat, research manager, Mobile Users IDC. According to IDC, the lifting of the in-flight ban on mobile phone usage could potentially lead to an increase in data usage and the all-important ARPU (average revenue per user). It could also drive the development of new channels and increase demand for data-enabled phones and smart phones. Some mobile players are already making in-roads into technology that would enable air passengers to place and receive calls during commercial flights. Last week Ericsson announced the launch of a system to provide in-flight mobile phone services. The RBS 2708 base station will function like any other terrestrially-based mobile phone station but will not interfere with aircraft instrumentation, or with terrestrial radio networks, Ericsson said. It remains to be seen whether the uniform ban will be lifted, but the possibility seems closer than ever. In the US the FCC proposal to lift the ban is understood to be under consideration, with the US Federal Aviation Authority having the final say on the matter in the US. In Europe, the ban would have to be lifted by the aviation authorities in the individual Member States. © ENN Related stories Inflight mobile calls - it's going to happen Mobile plane ban protects us from terrorists - FBI US tries to shoot down OnAir EU waves through Airbus mobile phone system Readers love mobiles in church; hate mobiles on planes HELLO...I'M ON A PLANE...YES...A PLANE!!
Deirdre McArdle, 21 Jun 2005

Microsoft sues German spammer

Microsoft is taking legal action against an alleged spammer now resident in Germany. The company has not been named but it is based in North Rhine-Westphalia. Microsoft accuses it, and its managing director, of sending millions of spam emails advertising web design companies, online casinos and porn sites. Some Hotmail addresses received thousands of mails traceable to the Westphalia firm. The owner has denied the charges, blaming partners, who he declined to name. Microsoft accuses the company of running a network of companies in Ukraine and the US. The statement on Microsoft Germany, run through Babelfish, says: "In the context of these offers the deplored one offers at present US dollar also 750 to million E-Mail addresses for 499." More details on the Microsoft Germany website here. Babelfish is here for non-German speakers.® Related stories FTC wants to tweak CAN-SPAM Act Nine years in slammer for US spammer Earthlink wins cash from spammers
John Oates, 21 Jun 2005

Rats fingered for knocking out NZ's phone network

Rats are being blamed for crippling New Zealand's telecoms network yesterday leaving thousands of punters without phone or internet access. Rodents are now thought to have been responsible for severing a fibre on a bridge in the Rimutaka area on New Zealand's North Island. "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," New Zealand's telco Telecom said in a statement yesterday. Although no rodent has actually admitted the crime, engineers reckon the fury little critters may well have nibbled through important cables carrying the country's telecom's traffic. New Zealand's telco Telecom was able to cope with this outage, but when a contractor severed a cable shortly after while drilling a post hole, much of the telco's network collapsed. Telecom spokesman John Goulter told AP that it "could not rule out the possibility" that rats had chewed the cables. "I think getting two accidents of this type at the same time is a freak occurrence," he said. ® Related stories New Zealand floored by cable outage Readers retell their squirrel pest stories Squirrels blamed for gnawing through BT phone line Ship's anchor cuts cable to Sri Lanka Glasgow vandals cut 5,000 phone lines
Tim Richardson, 21 Jun 2005

Apple sued over iTunes - again

Apple has been accused of infringing a patent that is claimed to cover the design of its popular iTunes music jukebox software. Earlier this month, US-based Contois Music and Technology filed a lawsuit with the Vermont District Court alleging that iTunes infringes US patent number 5,864,868, according to an AppleInsider report. The patent was filed by Contois co-founder Dave Contois in February 1996 and granted in January 1999. The company claims it informed Apple about the alleged infringement in September 2004, though it maintains the Mac maker knew about its patent back in January 2003. On that basis, it says Apple's infringement is wilful, and has asked the Court to ban iTunes' distribution and for a jury to grant it unspecified damages for the trouble it maintains Apple has caused it. Contois' patent describes a "computer control system and user interface for media playing devices" in which "the system provides a user interface for allowing a user access to media pieces stored in a media database". The patent is clearly intended to cover the use of a computer to control an external music instrument, providing it with data to play back the tune selected. The patent describes a user interface that allows someone to choose the tune from a variety of categories, such as artist, genre, title and so on. It's the latter aspect, Contois claims, that iTunes has aped. The family owned company maintains it demonstrated such a system in 1995 and 1996, where it was seen by people who were either contemporary employees of Apple or would go on to join the Mac maker. Either way, they took inspiration from Contois' demo, the plaintiff claims. iTunes started life as SoundJam, a music playback application published in 1999 by Casady & Greene. Apple acquired the program and hired its developer in 2000, and relaunched it as iTunes in 2001. Contois is focusing on that launch. The plaintiff cites 19 instances where iTunes' UI matches elements described in its patent, including its track search and selection system, and the ability to transfer songs to a portable device. Apple has already found itself in hot water over iTunes. It is currently engaged in a legal spat with Apple Corporation, the Beatles' recording company, over the alleged transgression of an agreement the two firms signed in the 1990s detailing the markets the Mac maker was allowed to take its brand into. Music, Apple Corp. claims, was not one of them, though that's just where iTunes has taken Apple Computer. Separately, it's being sued by Hong Kong-based Pat-rights which claims ownership of key elements of Apple's FairPlay DRM system. The iPod is claimed to infringe Chicago-based Advanced Audio Devices' patent for a "a music jukebox which is configured for storing a music library therein" And a French consumer group is suing Apple on the grounds that it believes the limitation on tracks downloaded from the iTunes Music Store that they may only be played with the iTunes application or an iPod but not any other MP3 player is a violation of European Union competition law. A similar complaint has been laid before the California District Court. ® Related stories Nominet faces judicial review over itunes.co.uk ownership Judge rejects Mac OS X 'Tiger' ban demand Apple settles Eminem lawsuit Apple vs Apple trial date set Apple faces patent lawsuits over its iPod French consumer group sues Apple, Sony Apple music store smacked with antitrust suit
Tony Smith, 21 Jun 2005

PayPal goes after small biz

Online payment specialist PayPal is going after small business customers with a package of services called Website Payments Pro. The service offers three levels of service for different businesses - Express Checkout, Direct Payment API and Virtual Terminal. Express Checkout is for PayPal account holders who will be able to pay for items in three clicks with shipping information sent from PayPal to the retailer's website. Direct Payment is for customers without PayPal accounts who want to pay using a credit card. It allows buyers to put their card details straight into the retailer's site while PayPal looks after the back office stuff. Finally Virtual Terminal is an online interface for staff taking credit card details over the telephone and entering them into PayPal. The company says this will give merchants more control over the buying process because more of it takes place on their own site rather than on PayPal's. It also means even the smallest business can offer a choice of ways for customers to pay. Pricing starts at $20 a month plus a charge of 30 cents and 2.2 to 2.9 per cent of every transaction. The monthly fee is being waived til later in the year. You can read the whole press release here. In other news yesterday PayPal released a developer kit for coders making applications which will interact with its payment system. More details here® Related stories Google aims for PayPal PayPal coughs to 'internal comments' edit slip eBay meets target, splits stock but price tumbles
John Oates, 21 Jun 2005

Sky readies 'on-demand' PC content service

Sky viewers are to get the chance to download movies and sports via their PCs when the British satellite outfit unveils a new "on-demand" service later this year. Subscribers to Sky Sports will be able to download match highlights, interviews, Sky Sports News bulletins and other footage while Sky Movies punters will have the chance to watch some 200 films. The downlaods will not be made via viewers' sat dish, but by their existing broadband connection. Sky will not be providing the broadband connection insisting that this is purely a content deal. Sky reckons that this "on-demand" service will help retain subscribers to its digital TV service and help attract new punters, from 7.7m at present to 10m by 2010. "The intention is to reinforce Sky's value proposition and forge deeper customer relationships by enabling subscribers to get more from Sky," said the company in a statement. Last week Sky announced plans to create a new interactive television portal that should let its punters view web sites via the TV. The portal is to be launched later this year and is satellite broadcaster is looking to attract web content providers such as e-businesses. "Available without subscription to all digital satellite viewers in the UK and Ireland, the easy-to-use portal will provide access to a range of internet services that have been adapted specially for television. "Services will be accessed using conventional URLs or via the portal's listings pages and online search engine," said Sky in a statement. ® Related stories Doctor Who better than Star Trek - official Virgin trials mobile TV NTL flogs Irish cableco NTL - Telewest 'prep merger'
Tim Richardson, 21 Jun 2005
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Blu-ray, HD DVD merger talks scrapped

The two, rival blue-laser optical storage formats, Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, will not be coming together, Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi admitted yesterday. Talks between the BD-backing Sony and HD DVD cheerleader Toshiba have ended, he said, in an interview with Nikkei Electronics. Surprise, surprise. Comments from both parties during the period of the negotiations implied there was little chance of a compromise. To do so would require either party to abandon their preferred format. Supporters of each format have, in the past, made it clear that physically the two formats are incompatible. The only way around the problem was to adopt one format's physical structure and add support for the other's data structure. Sony had the edge here. Since BD is more capacious than HD DVD, with a more complex data structure, there was inevitably more scope to add HD DVD data compatibility to the BD spec than vice versa. Sony first made the suggestion back in April, in a bid to prevent not only a war between the two formats as each battles to win the favour of consumers, but also to limit HD DVD's lead in content availability. Pre-recorded movies on HD DVD are expected to ship in the US in Q4, just ahead of BD-based movies. And while the HD DVD spec is complete, some elements, such as copy protection, have yet to be finalised by the BD camp. By late May, however, it was clear the negotiations were in deadlock, and so the principals brought in more senior staffers, including Kutaragi, to bring the discussions to a higher level. Once again, Sony's suggestion that HD DVD's data structure be incorporated into BD's, with BD providing the unified physical structure appear to have been rejected by Toshiba. To be fair, Sony hasn't been willing to embrace HD DVD, either. ® Related stories Toshiba, Sony fail to agree - again TDK touts 100GB recordable Blu-ray Disc Toshiba unveils 45GB HD DVD Toshiba slams Blu-ray/ HD DVD convergence claims Sony to add Blu-ray and DSD to Vaio Sony 'open' to Blu-ray Disc/HD DVD bonding talks
Tony Smith, 21 Jun 2005
fingers pointing at man

EU jettisons software patent amendments

The European Directive on Computer Implemented Inventions edged closer to becoming law, yesterday, when the Parliamentary JURI committee voted to scrap most of the amendments to the directive put in place to restrict the patentability of pure software inventions. Some of the changes proposed by Michel Roccard, the bill's rapporteur, were kept. For instance, the definition of "technical" has been pinned down as "belonging to a field of technology", and a field of technology has been defined as "a field of applied natural science". This amendment has been welcomed by anti-software patent campaigners at the FFII, who argue that the inclusion of the word "natural" rules out patents on business methods and maths. However, much of the original directive remains. For example, the paragraph covering exclusions from patentability has not been changed. The FFII warns that this section could still be interpreted to mean that only source code is excluded from being patented, rather than pure software inventions. In a statement on its website, the FFII warns that although some symbolically important amendments have been retained, "the result overall leaves the key loopholes of the Council's text wide open, and in some cases even widened further." The JURI vote still needs to be officially ratified by Parliament, which is slated to meet on 6 July to have its final vote. Parliament has opposed the directive every step of the way, so far, but it is unusual for the MEPs to vote against their own committee. The result of the JURI vote has, unsurprisingly, been welcomed by EICTA, the pan-European IT trade body. President Mark MacCann described the outcome as "a pretty good result", the FT reports. The FFII has details of the amendments here. ® Related stories Free software fans take a stand against software patents Patent Office makes a technical contribution EU takes axe to software patents directive
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jun 2005
globalisation

Open Source lab for local councils

Local councils looking to move to Open Source software will find it easier to test possible solutions with the opening of a dedicated lab in Manchester. The National Computing Centre has opened the Open Source Laboratory as part of the Open Source Academy funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The lab has already been used by Cheshire County Council to test a proposed move to combined Open Source and proprietary desktops. Ed Downs, project manager for the lab, said it provides a risk-free way to test OS applications. Access to the service is currently free. Chris Marden from Cheshire County Council said: "Using the lab test environment allowed work to proceed quickly, requiring only minimal resources from Cheshire to take the project forward." The lab is part of the government's "e-Innovations" initiative which aims to increase safe use of OS software by local authorities. It is supported by several councils, the University of Kent, Socitm and Open Forum Europe. More details on the NCC site here® Related stories Gov.uk backs open source drive UK gov backs £1m blueprint for open source switchers Cutting edge UK councils to get £14m
John Oates, 21 Jun 2005

Even Bigger Brother

No2ID, the national coalition against ID cards, is to hold a free public meeting about the UK government's controversial ID card plans next week. The seminar will be held at 7pm on 29 June, the day after the second reading in the Commons of the ID Cards Bill at the Old Cinema of the University of Westminster on Regents Street in London's West End. Speakers at the event come from across the UK's political spectrum: political firebrand George Galloway MP, of the Respect Party and veteran Labour politician Tony Benn will line up alongside Dominic Grieve, MP and shadow attorney general, and Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, will also speak at the meeting which will be chaired by Mark Littlewood, the original founder of No2ID. The Home Office, which has always declined invites to previous No2ID events, wasn't invited. Michael Parker, No2ID press officer, said that he hoped the meeting would move the debate about ID cards on from purely centering around questions of costs onto wider issues such as the creation of a national ID registry. Details of the event and how to register can be found here. Although the meeting is free and open to all, seating in the venue is limited to 300. ® Related stories Shun ID cards and make homes for beetles Madrid plotter used ID stolen from Spanish mint, say police Make ID cards foolproof pleads Met chief UK ID scheme rides again, as biggest ID fraud of them all
John Leyden, 21 Jun 2005
homeless man with sign

Medea gains UK solus for HP optical media

Medea International, the Dundee-based IT products wholesaler, has secured exclusive UK rights to distribute HP’s new line of optical storage media. Customers can burn their own designs on to the HP-branded DVD and CDD optical media, thanks to Lightscribe, a special coating used on the upper surface of the discs. Of course you need a Lightscribe-enabled DVD burner, courtesy of HP again, to burn a design onto the discs. You can find out more about HP’s LightScribe CD-R and DVD-R here. Medea. Target is the first official UK distributor for Joue Jye cases and power supplies. The SKUs include active and passive power supply units ranging from 300-550W with standard 20+4 pin connectors, and a selection of ATX midi towers and slimline cases. Target Azlan is introducing four new vendors to its voice / data convergence products line-up. They are Quescom, which makes IP gateways; KIRK Telecom (wireless IP telephony products; Sennheiser (headsets); and IP blue (enterprise-class IP softphones. Azlan ®
Distie roundup, 21 Jun 2005

Navicore GPS for Symbian

ReviewReview Selling PDAs on the back of GPS-based navigation systems has proved so successful in Western Europe, it was only a matter of time before suppliers turned to phones as the next platform for their route-planning software. It's a slightly different proposition, of course. PDA-based navigation kits are sold as complete packages, with handheld, software, GPS receiver and assorted in-car attachments bundled together. Plenty of folk already have phones, so here the focus has been on combining software and receiver.
Tony Smith, 21 Jun 2005
globalisation

Cisco branches out into middleware

Cisco announced plans on Tuesday to expand out of its core routing business into messaging middleware. The first product from Cisco's Application-Oriented Network (AON) initiative, which aims to embed application aware traffic management into network infrastructures, are due to become generally available by the end of the year. The first product will be a blade for Cisco's ISR routers and Catalyst 6500 switch running software that provide so-called intelligent message handling. Enterprises can use an AON management console to set security and application policies so that, for example, orders over a pre-set level receive preferential handling over other traffic on a network. Pricing details remain undisclosed. Cisco's roadmap also contains plans to release AON appliances over some unspecified time-frame. Bill Ruh, senior director of worldwide AON services practices, said the technology looked at the content of a message not just packet headers. By working at the application level more sophisticated quality of service and load balancing can be carried out in the network rather than on back-end application servers or middleware platforms. "This extra processing will impact the performance of a network but if you look at a system form end-to-end performance will be just as good if not better," Ruh explained. With AON, Cisco is seeking to move up the application stack by developing more sophisticated networking gear. Ruh downplayed suggestions it will take away sales from Cisco's middleware partners such as IBM and Tibco, who have both announced plans to release software that hooks into Cisco's AON architecture. "AON makes customer's existing middleware work better across a network," he said. Massimo Pezzini, a VP at analysts Gartner, said Cisco had developed technology that handled application integration in the network rather than on servers. "Cisco is positioning itself to be the integrator of integrators, in partnership with integration vendors, but over the longer term there's no doubt they'll collide in the market," he said. Pezzini said Cisco had taken a different approach to the delivery of application integration that would likely appeal to mid-range firms that have traditionally avoided the technology. The approach also lends itself to supporting the rollout of RFID (smart tag) technology which generates huge volumes of messages. Pezzini said Cisco's technology competed with integration application appliances from the likes of Cast Iron. ® Related stories Start-up reckons it can give you twice the processor Foundry forges major product revamp Cisco pushes application optimisation Juniper takes two for improved application push
John Leyden, 21 Jun 2005

Blast off for solar-sail test craft

A privately-funded spacecraft powered by a solar sail is set for launch this evening. The Cosmos-1 mission will be launched into orbit from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea, in the Arctic Ocean, this evening at 8:46pm, UK time. The craft will power its way to a 500 mile-high orbit atop a modified Volna intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The missile, which would not normally have enough power to reach orbit, has an additional rocket attached, similar to those used to de-orbit satellites. This should provide enough of an extra kick to get the craft to the necessary altitude. Once in orbit, the experimental craft will wait four days before extending its solar sails, and will use this time to take pictures of Earth. Once unfurled, the sails will form a 30m circle that uses the momentum of solar photons to generate a very small, but constant, acceleration away from the sun. This acceleration is so small, in fact, that the craft will stay in orbit for several weeks, gradually gaining speed and altitude until it reaches escape velocity. Solar sails have long been touted as the most realistic way of powering interstellar exploration, because although the acceleration is small, over a long enough time, a craft could achieve a very high velocity. The $4m project has been funded by a TV station, and the Planetary Society in California. NASA is reportedly keen to get its hands on the experimental data from the expedition. "Cosmos-1 is a short-term, modest mission that simply intends to prove the concept - that solar sailing is possible," The Planetary Society's Amir Alexander told the BBC. "[It] is really the only known technology that could potentially take us to the stars one day, because it does not have to carry fuel with it and because it can keep accelerating - even at incredible distances," he added. ® Related stories MIT boffins moot space leotard NASA scramjet nudges Mach 10 SMART-1 makes lunar orbit
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jun 2005

Freedom2Surf unveils 8meg service

Independent UK ISP Freedom2Surf has cut the ribbon on a new 8 meg ADSL package delivered courtesy of local loop unbundling (LLU) outfit EasyNet. The service - "8Mbit Connect Package" - costs from just £14.99 a month (usage limits apply) although availability is restricted to a handful of telephone exchanges to start with. Freedom2Surf also announced today that it also intends to make available "super-fast broadband services at speeds of up to 24Mbit". Said Freedom2Surf MD Chris Panayis: "Consumers across Europe and the US have long enjoyed ultra high-speed broadband and we are committed to leading the broadband speed revolution in the UK. "The promise of Local Loop Unbundling is finally delivering, and consumers as a result will be able to enjoy 24Mbit broadband for the same price as many are paying for bog standard 1Mbit services," he said. In April EasyNet signed up Freedom2Surf as a customer of its new unbundled wholesale broadband service - LLUStream - which the telco claims is between 30-35 per cent cheaper than BT. The 24 meg service in question has yet to be introduced by EasyNet although it is expected to become available later in the summer. ® Related stories Freedom2Surf hooks up to LLU broadband Bulldog unveils 8 meg broadband Easynet invests more in LLU
Tim Richardson, 21 Jun 2005

Telewest trials webcast TV

Broadband users can now access a web-based TV service as part of trial by UK cableco Telewest. The service is currently made up of four channels and includes content such as entertainment, films and sports. And unlike "on-demand" services such as those announced by UK satellite TV outfit Sky, these channels are "broadcast" in much the same way as traditional TV channels. At the moment, the service is free and open to all broadband users. If successful, the service might generate revenue by advertising, subscription or a mixture of the two. Said Eric Tveter, president and chief operating officer at Telewest Broadband, said: "Not only are we developing on-demand services for our digital TV platform, but we're also able to exploit the potential for video content via the internet. "Only recently has increasing broadband connection speeds and improvements in encoding technology allowed the continuous streaming of such high quality video." Which throws up the question; do you need a TV licence to watch Telewest's new web channels, or any other TV via broadband service come to think of it? A spokesman for Telewest told us that as far they were concerned, users don't need a licence because "Ofcom doesn't currently have jurisdiction over this type of service". The key, it seems, is whether a TV programme is broadcast at the same time as it is becomes available via broadband. If it's not, then no licence is needed. A TV Licensing spokesperson explained: "Anyone who uses or installs television receiving equipment to receive or record television programme services must be covered by a valid TV licence. "So, if you choose to view live or virtually live programmes on emerging technology... or on a PC (such as a PC that receives the television programme over the internet through streamed data, online, live or virtually live, and fed in real time), in essence you are watching the programme at the same time as it is being broadcast throughout the UK, and you are required by law to be covered by a valid TV licence." ® Related stories Sky readies 'on-demand' PC content service 3G TV: too little, too soon PC tax could replace TV licence HomeChoice extends VoD reach
Tim Richardson, 21 Jun 2005
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LogicaCMG goes down the Tube

Metronet, one of London Underground's private partners responsible for maintaining large portions of the tube network, has outsourced its IT service and support to LogicaCMG in a six-year deal worth £18m. LogicaCMG will provide a service desk for all end users, remote management of Metronet's IT infrastructure, and desktop, network and application support. The service desk will be run from Logica's new facility in Bridgend, South Wales. The main change from Metronet's previous supplier, is that LogicaCMG is to provide tech support on a 24/7 basis, something that Metronet has not had in the past. The company does a lot of engineering work at night, so a 24 hour tech support line is an important part of its business model. If there are any IT problems during engineering work, the delays can spill over into the next day's train service, so in theory at least, this deal could prevent some of the delays. Metronet is responsible for nine of the twelve lines on the London Underground network, including the Bakerloo and Victoria lines. ® Related stories Call centre workers face voice health scare More outsourcing = more unhappiness IT departments to get smaller and less technical
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jun 2005
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HP's Mr Blade opens Intel's power envelope to all

Many of you probably don't know HP's Mr Blade. You should. He's one cool character and full of information on Intel's upcoming Xeon processors. Mr Blade - aka Ken Baker, an Infrastructure Technologist at HP - gives a vague outline of the TDP (thermal design power) figures on the Xeons, in a presentation that has leaked to the web. Most notably, the HP staffer outs Intel's multicore Xeon chip code-named Whitefield as having a TDP between 100 and 130W. Then Woodcrest - a lower-end, multicore future Xeon - will come in at 70W. Both of these chips are pegged for 2006 delivery by Mr Blade, which is well ahead of Intel's public schedule. Perhaps Mr Blade got too excited or he might just be using a dated presentation. Either way, the thermals help paint a picture of where Intel is going. Chips a little closer to release include the dual-core Tulsa, coming in with a TDP of 175W and the lower-end Dempsey chip hitting 150W. Those figures have to be reassuring to the more power consumption conscious AMD. Current dual-core Opterons are chewing up 95W. Mr Blade seems well aware of AMD's power saving skills. On a number of slides, he touts the advantages of Opteron and notes that HP's DL and BL servers have 10 to 33 per cent lower power consumption than . . . . Than what? We're sure you can fill in the blank. In general, Mr Blade is out to tout HP's proficiency at cooling data centers. It has plans for - uh oh - water-cooled cabinets coming any day now. HP is also proud that its ProLiant systems can tap into all the latest and greatest power management tools in Windows Server and the high-end versions of Red Hat and SuSE. HP plans to update its Power Calculator software, modestly described by Mr Blade as "the most accurate power calculation tool on the market today." Highlights of the tool are that it's "free" and "conservative" - something we can all aspire to. Users should feel free to send in their input for how Power Calculator can be improved. You're welcome to peek at the PDF for yourself by traveling over here to Real World Technologies. Although, we suspect the docs will go missing very shortly. Thanks, Mr Blade. Keep cool.® Related stories IBM opens x86 Veritas cluster and storage shop Red Hat salutes Opteron with dual-core happy update IBM goes compute crazy with bladed Opteron cluster Larry Ellison's storage toy goes after EMC and NetApp
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jun 2005

Unauthorised research opened door to MasterCard breach

The head of the card processing firm blamed for a security breach affecting anything up to 40m credit card numbers has admitted it wasn't supposed to hold the compromised data. John M. Perry, chief exec of CardSystems Solutions, told the New York Times that the data was being kept for "research purposes". MasterCard said that the [unencrypted] data - which included customers names, card numbers and cvv (security) codes but not customer addresses - had been "inappropriately retained" by CardSystems, the paper reports. The exact mechanism of the data theft remain unclear but the New York Times reports that records "known to have been stolen" covered roughly 200,000 of the 40m potentially compromised credit card accounts, from MasterCard and other card issuers. Ironically this data was stored in a file held by CardSystems in order to carry out unauthorised research into why particular transactions had registered as unauthorised or uncompleted. This data was exposed because of "security vulnerabilities in the processor's systems," Mastercard said in a statement. CardSystems handles approximately $15bn in transaction per annum for 105,000 small and midsize merchants and financial institutions. MasterCard has put CardSystems on notice and given it a limited amount of time to comply with its security standards. CardSystems said that it has "remediated" its procedures since the incident. The security breach came to light after MasterCard and an unnamed bank, together with computer forensics firm Ubizen, traced unusually high levels of fraud identified in mid-April back to problems at CardSystems. CardSystems said it reported the security breach to the FBI in May 23, the day after security experts nailed the source of the security breach. MasterCard, which went public on the problem on 17 June, is the only card issuer thus far to trace specific instances of fraud back to CardSystems. However other card issuers may been hit and the scope of fraudulent activity caused by the breach remains unclear. The MasterCard flap is the latest - and by far the most serious - in a growing line of information security breaches affecting the handling of consumer data. ® Related stories MasterCard hack spawns phishing attack MasterCard fingers partner in 40m card security breach Credit card firms push cybersecurity UK card fraud hits £505m
John Leyden, 21 Jun 2005

No more mister nice guy: EMI, Sony-BMG revisit CD copy protection

Both Sony-BMG and EMI have made statements this week that most of their CDs for their major markets will have copy protection placed on them. Sony BMG is a customer for SunnComm while EMI is using the Macrovision CDS 300 technology. But Sony-BMG also used the opportunity to seed anti-Apple sentiment among the US press, knocking the company for continuing to keep Fairplay a closed environment and appearing to favor Microsoft software with its copy protection approach. The Sony-BMG SunnComm system uses a copy manager on a PC which creates a handover to the Windows Media DRM software that works with Windows media player, which then prevents further copying. This used to be easily bypassed, but now Sony-BMG has gone a step further and instead of trying to install the copy manager surreptitiously it tells the consumer it is doing it and if the consumer says no, it ejects the CD. The Macrovision CDS 300 which EMI has chosen has been available for about a year from Macrovision and it enables new CD’s to be burned, which themselves cannot be copied. What Macrovision has done is take its old, rigid copy protection called CDS 100, which was unpopular because the CDs didn’t work with all players and never allowed any copying, and make those the output of the new CDs when copied. The copies also will not play on a PC, only the original will play on a PC. However, EMI assures us that now the copied versions are the same in playing terms in every way, as the original CD, but cannot be copied. this is due to improvements in the number of devices that Macrovision copies can now play on. When running on a PC, Macrovision will also add a piece of software that will run as a copy manager in virtually the same way as the Sony-BMG SunnComm technology. There is going to be howl of protest from the anti-DRM community and already there are write ups of how to get around the system and import tracks onto iPods via a CD copy, one track at a time. The two pieces of software that co-operate with Windows Media DRM don’t work at all with Apple’s Fairplay and so Apple owners may find they can’t play the CDs at all or if they can, they are not protected, in the same way raw MP3 files are not protected on iTunes. Our guess is that iTunes customers will simply shift their entire music acquisition program from CDs to online and save a lot of fuss, slashing CD sales in the process. Copyright © 2005, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here. Related stories PSP disc protection cracked French court bans DVD DRM DVD Jon: buy DRM-less tracks from Apple iTunes Cryptographers to Hollywood: prepare to fail on DRM Macrovision to tout lock-down DVD tech MS licenses analog anti-rip technology CE vendors unite to develop DRM German national library busts copy protection
Faultline, 21 Jun 2005

Orlando axes free muni Wi-Fi

The city of Orlando in Florida has pulled the plug on the city's free Wi-Fi service. Although the city has a population of over 1.8m, only around 27 people a day were using the service, which was costing the district $1,800 a month. Metropolitan Wi-Fi has become the new cause for the internet lobby ever since the short-lived public Wi-Fi bubble burst a couple of years ago. In early 2003, fuelled by a $300m Intel ad campaign, bloggers urged the nation's coffee shops to install 802.11 LANs to drive up revenues. But by August NewsWeek had picked up on our characterization of this as a 'Bubble'. T-Mobile was losing $10 on every $1 of revenue from its Starbucks roll-out, and the magazine blamed "optimistic analysts making the rounds of technology conferences turned pep rallies," a permanent feature of Silicon Valley life. The introduction of free Wi-Fi didn't bring in new revenue for most cafe owners, and added a new frustration: they now had to ask the low-spending bloggers who squatted their cafes all day to button up their pyjamas, or leave. With Public Wi-Fi a commercial non-starter, the formerly once-libertarian tech-lobby has turned to municipal handouts to continue the dream of "getting everyone connected". But it's as misguided as the earlier bubble. Internet access is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and makes as much sense as calling for cities to install ketchup dispensers every few yards. On the upside, five ISPs have stepped in offering to supply free Wi-Fi to the anguished Orlando Pyjamahadeen. So bubbles don't really burst - they just reinflate endlessly, in ever smaller bubblettes. ® Related stories Public Wi-Fi has look and feel of a dead duck Public Wi-Fi the debate bubbles on Ronald McDonald to save Wi-Fi Blame game starts as Wi-Fi Bubble pops Newspaper discovers moderately happy Wi-Fi user
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jun 2005