24th > June > 2005 Archive

EC backs inflight mobile calls

European aviation authorities say that mobile phones would improve security on commercial air flights without posing a safety risk to the passengers on-board. The findings are included in a little-known report entitled "Certification Considerations for Cellular Telephone Systems in Civil Transport Aircraft," which was published late last year and was carried out for the European Commission and EuroControl, the body responsible for co-ordinating air traffic control regulations among EU member states. The report said that on-board mobile communications would improve aircraft security, since they would facilitate communications between on-board sky marshals and security officials on the ground. "Passengers would be permitted to use their cell phones only during the cruise phase of flight, as defined by the aircraft constructor, when authorised by the cabin crew," the report said. The phone service would be provided by a small base station on the plane, which would then connect to terrestrial telephone services via satellite or radio links. The report was prepared in consultation with the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA), the US group which advises the US Federal Aviation Authority on the issue. The RTCA's SC-202 working group has been examining the issue from a US perspective. The aviation authorities of each member state would have the final say on the issue in Europe, whereas the Federal Aviation Authority would make the decision in the US. However EuroControl's report cautioned that although it is technically possible to operate mobile phones on planes, there are significant spectrum licensing and operational issues to be addressed. It said that even if mobile phones are judged to be safe, there are other issues that would have to be addressed by airlines before phones could be used, noting that airlines would have to introduce guidelines for making and receiving calls. "A likely provocation is the frequent ringing of cell phones or of calls being made with a raised voice that disturbs other passengers," it noted. "An aircraft is not like a train, where a passenger can move from one seat to another." In mid-June Ericsson launched an in-flight base station, the RBS 2708, which functions like any other terrestrially-based mobile phone station and will allow passengers to place and receive calls when the plane is at cruising altitude. Likewise, Ireland-based Altobridge also makes in-flight GSM products, which have already been installed on the Boeing 777 and Gulfstream 550 aircraft. © ENN Related stories Airline passengers love inflight SMS, hate voice calls Inflight mobile calls by 2006? Error 404 at 40,000 feet A380 delivery delayed for six months Mobile plane ban protects us from terrorists - FBI US tries to shoot down OnAir Boingo hops onto Boeing Connexion
ElectricNews.net, 24 Jun 2005

UN declares peace on the internet

The United Nations has declared peace on the internet. The Working Group on Internet Governance, currently studying the problems of spam, network security and cyber-crime, will submit its report to Kofi Annan ahead of a world summit on information later this year. Although those involved will not discuss the content of the report before its publication, the document is not expected to contain any surprises. Junk mail is expected to be ranked as a high priority, despite not appearing on the international agenda. Presumably UN officials get spam too, and like it as much as the rest of us do. Markus Kummer, executive co-ordinator of the secretariat of the working group said: "Much of the report's content reflects a consensus, and the group was able to agree on priorities for future action." Only in areas relating to government involvement will a range of options be presented. The WGIG, which was established in 2003, has also discussed the root server system and the administration of internet names and addresses. The proposals put forward in the report will be considered by member states at the World SUmmit on the Information Society in Tunisia in November 2005. ® Related stories World is safe from mobile viruses for a few years longer Microsoft sues German spammer Phishers look to net small fry
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Jun 2005

BT agrees to give LLU chance to thrive

BT has signalled its commitment to making local loop unbundling (LLU) work in the UK by promising not to cut charges for its wholesale broadband products until there are 1.5m unbundled lines in the UK. The move is designed to give local loop unbundling LLU - the process by which rival operators install their own kit in BT exchanges to provide telecoms services direct to end users - a fighting chance of becoming an established source of competition. With around 60,000 unbundled lines in the UK at the moment, the proposal put forward by regulator Ofcom should give the UK's telecoms industry enough room to invest inLLU and to gain enough customers before facing competitive pressure from BT. One of the concerns tabled by operators was their reluctance to invest in LLU if there were doubts about the viability of that financial commitment. Key planks of the regulatory agreement thrashed out between Ofcom and BT outlined yesterday are increased competition and regulatory certainty for the industry. In a statement BT said that it had "agreed to a request from Ofcom that the rental prices for IPStream and Datastream [it main wholesale ADSL products used by ISPs] will not fall until there are 1.5m unbundled lines in the UK. "This move will provide LLU operators and service providers with greater certainty for their investment plans," it said. The monster telco also said it will cut the rental price for a fully unbundled local loop from £105 a year to £80 from August 1. ® Related stories BT bows to Ofcom pressure BT escapes threat of immediate break-up Ofcom's Telecoms Review 'sewn up by the big boys' Ofcom update on Telecoms Review due tomorrow Ofcom threatens BT - report MPs 'unconvinced' about need to break-up BT BT tells industry to 'get on with life' Carve up BT, says Energis boss MPs scrutinise telecoms review BT has until June to resolve 'equal access' issues BT gutted at Ofcom's 'prolonged misbehaviour' allegations Energis calls for BT break-up BT DSL price cut undermines LLU competition BT promises to play fair, in Ofcom appeasement BT clobbered in Ofcom probe Rivals warn of BT 'delaying tactics' BT faces 'bogeyman' if it fails to open market BT warns of broadband divide ahead of Ofcom review MPs to scrutinise Ofcom's telecoms review Tough-talking Ofcom boss slaps BT BT stands firm against Ofcom BIG has a pop at BT dominance BT faces life-changing three months Stop picking on BT, says rival Ofcom review 'misses golden opportunity' Ofcom tells BT: shape up, or split up Telecoms review? What telecoms review? BT: Nation's broadband investment in Ofcom's hands BT 'unlikely' to be broken up
Tim Richardson, 24 Jun 2005

Electronic forgery menaces humanity

Electronic forgery is becoming a greater risk as more company information is stored electronically. But many organisations are ignoring the issue. About 80 per cent of all company information is stored electronically, according to Fran Howarth, Security Practice Leader at Bloor Research, yet the most valuable and sensitive information is most often left unguarded. BT’s principal security consultant, Paul Hanley said: "The issues we have with electronic documents are they are very easy to open, to lend, modify and save. Electronic document forgery is one of the greatest emerging security threats which organisations will need to address." Falsified corporate information such as financial press releases - as in the Emulex case in 2000 - or the possibility of forged bank statements grab most of the attention. But doctored expense claims and the like are also a potential problem, according to Hanley. He made his comments during a recent debate on e-document forgery in London organised by Adobe. Figures on the financial impact of e-document forgery were thin on the ground but panelists agree the firms were giving insufficient attention to application or document management risks when formulating security policies. Firms are relying too much on firewalls and anti-virus software, according to Mark Wheeler, European group marketing manager at Adobe. "A lot of investment has been around the movement of information and stopping people from actually penetrating the company’s ‘castle walls’. What we have been seeing is less investment in actually protecting the core assets, which is the actual documents, information and content that surrounds a business." Professor Jim Norton, senior policy advisor at the Institute of Directors, reckons a lack of understanding of electronic document forgery and new terminology are confusing the issue. “We now have old crime [fraud], but a wonderfully enhanced range of tools for carrying it out. It is actually the people part of this that comes to bite you in the rear. Technology can minimise the exposure to this people risk," he said. ® Relaxed stories Man arrested in Net hoax sting Californian faces 100 years in jail and £10m fine for false press release Adobe anti-counterfeiting code trips up kosher users US man sued for Extreme share ramp scam
John Leyden, 24 Jun 2005

Bango floats

Bango - the UK outfit that helps companies flog content via mobile phones - has raised around £7m following its debut on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM). The IPO values Bango at £35m as it looks to capitalise on the increased interest in flogging content via mobiles. The cash raised from the IPO is to be used to fund the company's expansion overseas and to help extend its business operation. Said chief exec Ray Anderson in a statement: "We see this as an exciting step for the company, assisting us in increasing our profile internationally and exploiting our scaleable technology platform in new territories. "We will be building on the successful relationships we already have with many content providers and network operators and we are expecting to see significant growth in the future." Which is nice. ® Related stories Bango to float Orange shuts out adult content So why does Vodafone filter block Sky News? Bango bakes m-commerce cookies
Tim Richardson, 24 Jun 2005

MySQL Design and Tuning

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Team Register, 24 Jun 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Elpida touts 'first' 2Gb DDR 2 chip

Elpida has developed a 2Gb DDR 2 SDRAM chip - the highest capacity part of its kind, it claims. However, don't expect to get hold of one until next year. The 2Gb part is the company's first 80nm chip, a process that paves the way for DDR 2 clocked at 800MHz and up. It also allows the die to be fitted inside a typical 68-pin memory package, allowing it to be added to standard DIMMs. The chip draws the same current as Elpida's existing 1Gb DDR 2 device, enabling memory module makers to incorporate the new part without having to increase their products' power requirements. The chip is also suitable for incorporation onto the new fully-buffered DIMM (FB-DIMM) specification developed by Intel and others for server memory. Indeed, Elpida itself has pipelined 4GB and 8GB DDR 2 memory modules. Elpida may have produced working 2Gb parts, but volume production is some way off. The memory maker expects to put the chip into mass-production "by the end of this fiscal year", which means by 31 March 2006. Elpida tacitly said it doesn't expect demand for the part to be significant until that point in any case, so it seems unlikely that too many customers will be troubled by the wait. Elpida will provide pricing details closer to shipping. ® Related stories DDR 2 output jumps in April World chip sales continue to rise Elpida declares first annual profit Elpida slashes FY2004 income forecast Kingston unveils 'fastest' DDR 2 DIMMs
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2005
homeless man with sign

DRAM price slump pitches Micron into the red

Micron blamed falling DRAM prices for plunging into the red in Q3. The US memory maker lost $128m (20 cents a share) for the quarter ended 2 June - doing much worse than analyst forecasts of two cents a share for the quarter. Wall Street's estimate was well below the $118m (17 cents a share) income Micron posted for the previous quarter and the $91m (13 cents a share) profit it announced this time last year. Revenue for the quarter totalled $1.05bn, less than the $1.18bn Wall Street was expecting and the $1.31bn Micron made in Q2. During Q3 FY2004, it recorded sales of $1.17bn. Micron said demand was strong, and the company had cut costs - memory production was eight per cent up thanks to improved production efficiencies - during the period. But these efforts counted for little against much-reduced average selling prices (ASPs) for commodity DRAM. "ASPs for memory products decreased approximately 30 per cent comparing the third quarter of FY2005 to the immediately preceding quarter as excess supply depressed pricing particularly for mainstream PC memory," the company said. While there are signs that the inventory correction that the chip industry as a whole has been facing since Q2 2004 is now coming to an end, it clearly hasn't come too soon for Micron. ® Related stories ATI posts Q3 loss DRAM price plunge hammers Hynix World chip glut to hit 'marginal' levels in Q2 DDR 2 output jumps in April World chip sales continue to rise Micron remakes a profit
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2005

AOL UK to charge for tech support

AOL UK is to start charging customers who call its customer and technical support helplines. The ISP intends to charge its customers up to 7.5p a minute depending on the time of day. The new charges come into effect on August 1 and are believed to be the first time AOL UK has made its punters pay for calling its helplines. Until now the 0800 tech support line has been a selling point for the family-friendly ISP. But in an email to users today the company explains that the switch to a new charged-for 0870 number will "ensure we can continue to provide the highest quality member services". It goes on: "This change will enable us to invest in further significant enhancements to our customer services, and ensure we continue to provide market-leading support for the wide range of features and content AOL delivers to our members now, and in the future." However, not everyone will have to cough up to speak to tech support. Punters who sign up to the ISP's AOL Talk phone service can still call the helpline for free. Said AOL in a statement: "The new customer and technical support number still represents one of the best value customer service options on the market, as many other Internet providers charge premium rates for support." ® Related stories AOL UK offers phone service AOL rebuts zombie network slur AOL launches free 2GB webmail service Time Warner mulls AOL float
Tim Richardson, 24 Jun 2005

Toshiba to fight 'unjust' Lexar trial verdict

Toshiba's new chairman has vowed to fight a California court ruling that the Japanese giant stole trade secrets from rival manufacturer Lexar. Incoming chairman Tadashi Okamura, until today Toshiba's president, told shareholders that the March ruling was "totally unjust". He said the company was considering its "legal response", Reuters reports. Toshiba maintains it developed its NAND Flash chip technology without outside help. But in March this year, a jury attending the California Superior Court in San Jose agreed that Toshiba's work had been unlawfully aided by intellectual property snatched from Lexar. Lexar alleged that Toshiba took a place on Lexar's board and then subsequently incorporated Lexar's NAND techniques into its own NAND product line. In March, the trial jury awarded Lexar $465m in damages. At the time, Toshiba said it would challenge the ruling. Okamura's statement comes at the end of a week in which the California court said it had not yet decided if Toshiba's NAND Flash products should be banned from sale within the US. Toshiba is widely acknowledged as inventing NAND Flash and partners with US market leader SanDisk. Toshiba has revenues of over $52bn and R&D expenditure of $2.4bn, which is four times the revenues of Lexar, at $681m. Toshiba holds some 50,000 patents, home and abroad, with something like 5750 of them relating to Flash memory and other semiconductor technologies, while Lexar holds just 72. ® Related stories Palm vets put Skype on a thumb drive MS to demo Flash-HDD hybrid drive Toshiba hit for $465m in a Flash New SanDisk drive lets your fingers do the storing
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2005

Sony UK denies grey PSP confiscation claims

Sony's European PlayStation division, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) has denied it has any plans to grab PlayStation Portables from UK punters who bought their consoles from unofficial importers. "We're absolutely not going after consumers - that's not our objective at all," an SCEE spokesman said yesterday, according to a GamesIndustry.biz report. "We can assure people who bought consoles on the grey market that we're not going to be going after them." Allegations that it might be pursuing purchasers were made by UK newspaper The Guardian yesterday. The paper said it had seen a copy of SCEE's legal challenged to PSP importers. In it, Sony demanded importers hand over details of their customers. Cue Orwellian images of Sony Paycops kicking on doors, beating up consumers who've had the cheek not to be willing to wait until September for a PSP, and carrying away their consoles. An unlikely scenario maybe, but the possibility remains that SCEE would maintain a list of such buyers - assuming it wins its High Court action against the importers, due to commence on Monday - to prevent them from taking advantage of the benefits granted to buyers of officially sourced product, such as technical support. We understand that it has no direct legal recourse against such customers. SCEE told GamesIndustry.biz that the suggestive clause in its writ against the importers was standard part of all such lawsuits, and would be used to help determine the level of damages the company claims to have suffered from the unauthorised, or 'grey', imports. SCEE originally planned to ship the PSP into Europe by the end of March, around the time of the handheld's US launch. However, put back the release, a number of times, to 1 September. This created an opportunity for enterprising firms and individuals to buy PSPs in the US and resell them over here. US retailers and distributors are not permitted to sell PSPs to overseas customers - on penalty, presumably, of losing their ability to sell the device to locals. But there's nothing to stop anyone buying a PSP from a US store and bringing it here to sell, or simply putting the unopened package up for grabs on eBay. Indeed, SCEE has gone as far as to send requests to individuals that they stop offering PSPs on European branches of the online auction site. ® Related stories Sony tries to choke off UK PSP imports PSP disc protection cracked Sony to ship PSP on 1 September - official Amazon puts back UK Sony PSP debut - again Playboy in PSP porn punt Sony PSP UK release slips to August? Sony sells 600,000 US PSPs in first week
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2005

Battery-boosting body offers fuel cell advice

The Intel-backed Mobile PC Extended Battery Life Working Group has published guidelines for vendors keen to create fuel cells to power portable PCs. The document is intended to provide fuel-cell developers will details of the devices their products will have to power, whether the cells will sit inside the devices in place of regular rechargeable batteries, or operate as an alternative to an external AC adaptor. Essentially, it defines the problem the fuel cell developers have to solve. The guidelines cover electrical, mechanical, control, thermal, environmental and regulatory aspects of fuel cells designed for notebook computers. The document can be obtained by emailing the organisation. The Group sees the development of fuel cells for notebooks as aparticularly challenging. Batteries are well able to provide laptops with as much or as little power as they need, catering for the 'bursty' nature of notebook energy demand. Fuel cells, by contrast, were conceived to supply a continual, steady level of power. According to the EBLWG - which sounds more like a small Welsh town than an IT industry consortium - some 60 companies around the world are working on fuel cells for mobile PCs. Fuel cells typically use the Direct Methanol technique, in which quantities of water are methanol mixed in the presence of a catalyst causing a chemical reaction that generates a voltage between two electrodes as by-product. Connect the electrodes to a circuit and you have yourself a power source. It is another matter to turn this concept into a device that can power a mobile phone, PDA or a notebook for a day or more: working product seems just as far away now as it did two years ago when sundry firms began making bullish claims for their fuel cell development efforts. NEC, for example, has regularly demonstrated notebook fuel cell prototypes since 2003, originally pledging to bring such a device to market by late 2004. By the end of 2005, it said, it would have a machine on the market that could operate for 40 hours. These days, it's a little more cautious about commercial releases, and won't insay when it expects this stuff to appear. In March this year, Nokia put its own fuel-cell development programme on hold. ® Related stories Sanyo, IBM develop ThinkPad fuel cell Nokia nixes fuel cells development project NEC to show laptop with built-in fuel cell Toshiba touts pump-free fuel cell for MP3 players Fujitsu breakthrough slims fuel cell size Hitachi readies fuel cell for PDAs Toshiba demos cellphone fuel cell
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2005

Aussies prosecute first 'spammer'

Australia is prosecuting the first alleged spammer under its new-ish Spam Act. The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) accuses Perth-based Clarity1 of sending at least 56 million junk emails since the Spam Act came into force in April last year. And it accuses the company and its managing director, Wayne Mansfield, of harvesting some of the email addresses he sent mail to. Citing the "scale of the breach" of the Spam Act, the ACA is seeking an interim injunction until the court hearing against Clarity1. In a release announcing the action against Mansfield, the ACA notes that his company – under its trading name Business Seminars Australia - is listed by Spamhaus, as one of the world’s top 200 spammers. The ACA wrote to several alleged spammers based in Australia on the Spamhaus list before the Spam Act began in April 2004. ACA Acting Chairman Dr Bob Horton said: “We advised them that they were required to comply with the new Act,” he said. “Spamhaus subsequently reported that several major Australian spammers on their list had stopped operating, or left the jurisdiction. “However, this particular operation continues today allegedly in breach of the Act.” Mansfield denies breaking the law. He said he welcomes the opportunity to prove the legality of his operations in court, Australia’s ABC News reports. ® Related stories Aussie crooks recruit teen phishing mules Aussie 419 ringleader jailed for four years 419ers take Aussie financial advisor for AU$1m Aussie PM slammed for spam US looks to be master of Aussie IP US, UK and Australia sign anti-spam act Aussie spam watchdog investigates itself
Drew Cullen, 24 Jun 2005

Storage vendors suffer vertical vertigo

AnalysisAnalysis Los Angeles! New York! Paris, France! Berlin! London! Like the leaders of a pair of heavy metal rock bands pimping their new album, the big names from Seagate and Hitachi have been touring the world these past couple of weeks, touting their latest wonder - the Defeat of Superparamagnetism. (Be honest, you can imagine a vinyl LP with a Roger Dean cover and that title, can't you?)
Charles Arthur, 24 Jun 2005

C&W eyes Energis for 'takeover'

Cable & Wireless (C&W) and Energis are reportedly holding behind-the-scenes talks that could lead to the eventual merger of the two UK telcos. The Independent reports that talks are at an "advanced stage". If C&W does go-ahead and complete the take-over it would create a telecoms company with sales of around £2.3bn. Through its acquisition last year of local loop unbundling ISP Bulldog, C&W is well poised to attack BT's established retail market by providing voice and broadband services direct to customers. Bringing Energis on board would also give C&W a number of blue chip corporate clients including the BBC, IBM and Tesco. Earlier this week France Telecom was rumoured to be preparing to splash out £4bn to take over C&W. The Sunday Telegraph quoted 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 denied the story saying it simply isn't true. It didn't even bother to take the standard PR line of "we don't comment on rumour and specuation" Instead a spokeswoman for FT told us: "France Telecom formally denies this information." ® Related stories France Telecom denies interest in C&W C&W goes large on LLU Carve up BT, says Energis boss
Tim Richardson, 24 Jun 2005

US rules all porn is child porn

All pornography in the US is now effectively classified as child pornography, unless providers can prove the ages of everyone taking part. The law, which requires porn producers to hold copies of all actors' photo ID for seven years, has been in place for some time, but as of 23 June, the rule was extended to cover online pornography as well. This includes online forums, adult personals sites and any other place where adult material may be published. In response, a number of sites have voluntarily taken themselves offline, to avoid breaking the newly applied rules. According to BoingBoing, Rotten.com has taken down ratemyboner.com and gapingmaw.com, which contained the occasional explicit image, although it is/was not a porn site, as such. In a statement on the site, gapingmaw.com's administrators call the law a "side-handed attack on the pornography industry", and says that it would be impossible for it to meet the requirements of the regulations. While the law is designed to protect minors, and prevent exploitation, some free speech campaigners argue that the law gives authorities an awful lot of power to close down site they don't approve of, even if that was not its original goal. They point out that the Patriot Act was used to prosecute people for offenses that were not terrorist offenses shortly after it became law. The Free Speech Coalition is already preparing a legal challenge to the law, and says it has already won some concessions from the government. Meanwhile, others still warn that the law could even leave some performers, such as women operating webcam shows from their homes, open to stalking and harassment, because the law requires that they publish their physical addresses online. See more on that here. You can plough through the text of the legislation here. ® Related stories US firms grapple with workplace IT abuse Euro police in child abuse raids Saucy sites to get .xxx TLD
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Jun 2005

German soldier wins software right of conscience

A German court has backed an army officer who had a conscientious objection to developing software he thought might be used in the Iraq war. Reuters reports that a major in the Bundeswehr’s IT arm refused to work on an IT project that he felt might concievebly aid the US-UK war in Iraq. While the German government was dead set against the war from the start, the army didn’t see eye to eye with the major, promptly demoting him and seeking to expel him from its ranks. The uniformed peacenik then sought legal redress. Those right-on German justices came through for him with an administrative court deciding that German soldiers were guaranteed freedom of conscience, and that his superiors had been unable to guarantee the offending software program would not be used in a war which he argued violated constitutional and international law. While Germany may no longer be the West’s Frontline in the battle with Communism, it is definitely the frontline in the battle to create a more sharing, caring kind of military. This week also saw German troops win the right to war their hair in any style they choose, including ponytails and the dreaded mullet. ® Related stories Lycos Germany bins IP address data Court rules for German ISPs in P2P identities case German court to examine Lufthansa attack
Joe Fay, 24 Jun 2005

Samsung E720 MP3 phone

ReviewReview Samsung knows how to pack small handsets with lots of features and the E720 clamshell phone is no exception. It is one of the few new handsets to offer extra features without a penalty when it comes to size, writes Debbie Davies. The stylish, two-tone phone weighs a tiny 90g and measures 9 x 4.5 x 2.3cm. It fits well in the hand and is perfect for slipping into your pocket. The E720 doesn't have quite everything, but first let's look at what it does have. As a mobile for entertainment, the E720 includes a superior MP3 player, a megapixel camera and an excellent video camera. Samsung has pitched the E720 as a mobile jukebox-cum-phone, like Motorola's E398. The two companies have approached the addition of MP3 differently. Whereas Motorola has a removable storage card and stereo speakers, Samsung has gone for MP3 controls on the front of the phone and 88.5MB of built-in memory. Motorola's approach seems to make more sense to us and Samsung is rumoured to have a handset similar to the E720 but with a memory card slot in the offing. There is no shortage of options for putting tracks on your phone with both USB and Bluetooth for connecting to your computer. The phone plays MP3, iTunes-friendly AAC and AAC+ files, but not WMA. Songs can be set as ringtones, which is difficult to resist, although the Crazy Frog may invite murder by a stranger. Samsung's excellent one stop button for quiet mode helps if you need to silence the phone quickly. Buttons on the front of the phone enable you to play, pause, forward and rewind without opening the handset but only once you've selected MP3 mode. Once started, you can operate the MP3 with your phone in your pocket using the external controls. We liked this a lot. Music plays either through the phone's loudspeaker or supplied stereo headphones. We preferred the headphones as music on the loudspeaker didn't sound too good to us. Samsung rounds off its entertainment package with four games, including Freekick, which take advantage of the excellent screen. It's not as big as the screen on Samsung's D500, but matches it for quality. What is missing from the E720 is speakerphone and voice recognition. If you're in the habit of talking to your phone and using it set down on a desktop, Samsung phones are not for you. It does have a voice recorder, which records voice memos up to an hour. As far as the basics go, we had no problems using the keypad. Menus and controls were logical although with so many functions in such a small space, there are a lot of sub-menus to find. Samsung does manage to keep the most useful functions to a single press of a button and it's no surprise that the company has brought us the easiest phone to operate as an MP3 player to date. The camera operates by pressing a button on the side of the handset and volume control stays on the side of the phone too. Samsung's antenna technology gave us good call quality for incoming and outgoing voice calls. Verdict Samsung will probably find better ways of integrating MP3 in the future, but for the time being this is still a great phone, packed with features in an attractive, small and slim handset. The company's success in Europe, where it is second only to Nokia, is largely down to phones like the E720, which fit so well into the replacement handset market. Review by Samsung E720   Rating 80%   Pros Design; multimedia features.   Cons No speakerphone; no removeable card slot.   Price Depends on contract   More info The Samsung E720 site Recent reviews Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX Epson R-D1 digital Rangefinder Navicore GPS for Symbian Acer TravelMate 4401LMi Turion notebook Focal iCub iPod 2.1 speaker set Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger' in depth - Part 3 Shuttle XPC SN25P barebones SFF PC NHJ VTV-201 wrist TV
Pocket Lint, 24 Jun 2005

TV licence needed for TV-to-mobile services

O2 is due to begin trials of broadcasting TV-to-mobiles next month as part of a deal with cableco NTL. Performance testing is due to get underway shortly before 350 punters in Oxford get the chance to view TV on the move from September. Elsewhere, Virgin kicked off trials of its TV-to-mobile service earlier this month - providing content from Sky Sports News, Sky News and new music channel Blaze - to the handsets of 1,000 London triallists. While Orange launched its service in May providing punters with an initial line-up of nine channels including ITN News, CNN, Cartoon Network plus "specials" such as Celebrity Love Island and Big Brother. Question is, do you need a TV licence to watch TV on a handset or is this a loophole created by technological convergence? According to Orange, you do. A spokeswoman for Orange told us: "Orange TV can be viewed on your handset as long as you have a TV licence for your home TV." Which is the kind of clear answer that can prove realy helpful, except that it completely at odds with what O2 told us. A spokesman said O2's service is currently being trialled and that a full commercial launch is not due before the end of 2006. "Regarding the question on whether people would need a TV licence, we don't believe it will be necessary for consumers although we will be clarifying with Ofcom," he said. So, two different operators, two different answers. Thankfully, those people at TV Licensing - the group that collects the TV licence fee that funds the BBC in the UK - were able to steer us in the right direction. The key, it seems, is whether a TV programme is broadcast at the same time as it is becomes available via a mobile handset or on a PC via a broadband connection. If it's not, then no licence is needed. If it is streamed live, or almost live, then it is. A spokesman for TV Licensing explained: "Anyone who uses or installs television receiving equipment to receive or record television programme services must be covered by a valid TV licence. Mobile phones capable of receiving television programme services live or virtually live would come under the definition of TV receiving equipment. "So, if you choose to view live or virtually live programmes on emerging technology (eg mobile devices) or on a PC, 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 "However, providing that you have a TV licence for your main address then you will be covered for any television equipment that is powered by its own internal battery. It has been our experience that people who use mobile phones to receive television programme services are likely to already be covered by their existing TV licence." Which is all well and good, but things are changing - something that's already been acknowledged by the Government. According to a Green Paper published in March the licence fee could be replaced by a tax on having a PC instead of owning a TV. For while the government plans to retain the license fee for at least ten years, ministers are looking ahead to a time when high-speed broadband connections routinely deliver digital television channels to the nation's homes. In that event a fee based on television ownership could become redundant and the government might look at other ways to raise revenue, from subscriptions to taxing other access devices. Indeed, the whole area of "Digital multimedia platforms" is something regulator Ofcom is due to look at over the next year or so. It wants to understand "likely developments in digital platforms and services and produces a framework to address the emerging policy challenges, including content delivery across different platforms, business models and consumer demand". And that means how viewers pay to watch TV - be it on the gogglebox, PC, mobile or some other gadget. ® Related stories Telewest trials webcast TV Virgin trials mobile TV 3G TV: too little, too soon Orange pushes TV on 3G display O2 trials mobile TV PC tax could replace TV licence
Tim Richardson, 24 Jun 2005

Dutch AG pressures Lycos in ID disclosure case

ISP Lycos may have to reveal the name of a Dutch (Lycos) website owner who ridiculed a part-time stamp trader, at least according to the Dutch Advocate General. Dutch citizen Bernard Pessers traded postage stamps through auction site eBay and was accused of fraud by an anonymous Lycos member on his home page. Pessers wasn't amused and demanded the closure of the site. Lycos obeyed, but Pessers - who is a lawyer from the Dutch town of Tilburg - wasn't satisfied and demanded to know the identity of the member. When Lycos refused, Pessers took the ISP to court, initially handling the case himself. After the initial verdict, Lycos handed over the data, but the address turned out to be wrong, and Pessers started another procedure to force Lycos to find the correct information. That demand was turned down in court on 1 April 2004. However, the Dutch Appeals Court of Amsterdam overruled the decision, after which Lycos took the case to the Dutch Supreme Court. The so-called Lycos-Pessers defence, which has dragged on for almost two years, has attracted attention from legal experts worldwide. Now the Dutch Advocate General says that Lycos can indeed be sued over the identity of its members to pursue a civil action against someone who's anonymous. Although the case has no relation to the music or movie industry, Dutch anti piracy organisation BREIN paid the legal bill of Pessers, because the advice by the Advocate General may be beneficial to its case against ISPs who refuse to identify illegal file swappers. BREIN is targeting 42 individuals suspected of illegally trading copyrighted music, but isn’t getting any co-operation from ISPs. Lycos lawyer C.O. Wenckebach says that the advice of the Advocate General may indeed have implications for ISPs which refuse to disclose the names of suspected file sharers. "Usually The Supreme Court follows the advice of the Advocate General," he told The Register. The Supreme Court case is scheduled for 25 November.® Related stories Dutch anti-piracy unit targets ISPs Lycos Germany bins IP address data Fake Lycos screensaver harbours Trojan Norwegian rappers play cat and mouse
Jan Libbenga, 24 Jun 2005
fingers pointing at man

Firemen challenge £31m planned IT bill

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has accused the government of wasting money on expensive IT consultants instead of ploughing funds into the fire service itself. Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) reveals that £31.1m has been budgeted for IT consultants, as part of the emergency fire control project. The FBU warns that this is close to eclipsing the £42.3m the government estimates will be saved by the project. That figure was leaked from a confidential ODPM report earlier in the year. However, an ODPM spokeswoman said that the FBU was distorting the figures, and that the £31m was the estimated cost of "professional support to the project over its whole lifetime". She added that the full cost of the project was £988m, meaning that fees paid to IT consultants accounted for just three per cent of the total. "The FireControl project is itself a result of an independent review of fire and rescue control rooms by Mott MacDonald, which concluded that current arrangements were costly and inefficient," she said. "When the Government consulted widely on the report in December 2003 there was broad support for the new approach." The FireControl Project will consolidate the 46 local fire control offices across England into nine regional control offices. The FBU says that the new system in unnecessary, expensive and will not save any lives. It argues that the £31m earmarked for consultants would be better spent on 1,000 additional fire fighters, or on arson reduction initiatives. "They are wasting money on IT consultants chasing another technology rainbow. There is no pot of savings at the end of this rainbow," said FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack. "This is very expensive, very risky project and it won't save any lives. They must bin it before they waste any more public money." 138 cross-party MPs have now signed Early Day Motion 229, or its amendment, raising concerns about the project. ® Related stories ODPM to withdraw from eGovernment policy Public sector IT abuse still rife Public beats private for IT pay rises
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Jun 2005
fingers pointing at man

Judge slates Customs in £120m VAT fraud case

HM Revenue and Customs insisted today that it would press on with its attempts to crack down on VAT fraud after a judge’s withering criticism of its handling of one prosecution. Five Manchester-based businessmen accused of a £120m VAT fraud centring on imported mobile phones were freed last month, after Mr Justice Crane stayed the prosecution for abuse of process. Defense lawyers had accused the prosecution of withholding evidence, thus depriving the defendants of the right to a fair trial. Mr Justice Crane, in a statement in the High Court today, said the prosecution had delayed disclosing information which either suggested their witnesses were not credible or that the prosecution witnesses were themselves involved in fraudulent importing and exporting. It would not have been fair to try the defendents, Mr Justice Crane said. It is thought that Mr Justice Crane's decision could have implications for around 18 similar cases. In a statement, HM Customs and Revenue said it would carefully consider the ruling and ensure any lessons for the future were learned and swifty acted upon. The agency said it would continue to tackle fraud, "with all the tools at our disposal" and insisted its actions already had "a major impact on the non-economic cross-border trade in mobile phones and computer chips and reduced significantly the tax losses to the exchequer." HMCR said that such cases were extremely complex and resulted in huge numbers of documents. It said that while it was fully aware of the need to ensure the defence had all the relevant documents at the relevant time, "it is not always immediately apparent or clear what documents fall as 'relevant'." More details in The Independent and on Bloomberg. ® Related stories Jury clears businessman in VAT fraud case Customs loses VAT weapon
Joe Fay, 24 Jun 2005

Yahoo sued by child abuse victim

Yahoo is facing a $10m lawsuit from a victim of child abuse who claims pictures of their abuse were distributed by the firm. Adam Voyles, partner at Heard, Robins, Cloud & Lubel, told the Reg he represents a child who was molested and pictures of that molestation were distributed to the Candyman website, which was hosted by Yahoo. Voyles said: "They owed a duty to the population as a whole to not distribute illegal material, we're not talking inappropriate here but illegal. It is like distributing cocaine or heroin." Yahoo is accused of distributing child pornography in breach of federal law, public disclosure of private facts and negligence. The FBI investigated the Candyman group in 2002. As a result almost 1,400 individuals were identified and 86 people later arrested. Yahoo did not reply to our request for comment.® Related stories Yahoo! shuts door on dodgy chatrooms Judges decry DoJ perjury in Net-porn crackdown Yahoo! pedo! community! busted!
John Oates, 24 Jun 2005

Microsoft software partner finds Microsoft software cheaper than Linux

Microsoft has bankrolled another "independent" study that happened to turn up some interesting results. Namely that Microsoft's software is less expensive to patch than open source products. The study was run by Indian consulting and services giant Wipro Technologies, which surveyed 90 companies in the US and Europe. But, while Microsoft pitches Wipro as an independent body in its press release about the study, a quick search turns up very close ties between the companies. One has to wonder whether this new study falls into a long line of not so independent knocks on open source software. "Customers have told us that patch management is a significant part of the total cost of ownership equation,” said Martin Taylor, a general manager at Microsoft. “Wipro’s analysis shows that Microsoft helps address vulnerabilities faster than Linux distributors, enabling organizations to update their Windows environment more quickly than with open source alternatives. Organizations that employ solid management practices and Windows automation technology can significantly reduce the cost of patching and lower their risk exposure.” What Wipro's study doesn't show is that in November of last year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed multi-million dollar deals with both Wipro and Infosys - another large Indian software maker and services firm. Earlier that year, a watchdog claimed that Wipro was one of two Indian companies said to be working on parts of Microsoft's upcoming version of Windows code-named Longhorn. Microsoft denied that Indian staff were handling the core of the OS. Go and ahead and decide for yourself about the independence issue. For the curious, Wipro found that Windows desktops cost 14 per cent less to patch than Linux desktops, that Windows servers cost 13 per cent less to patch than Linux servers and that Windows database servers cost 33 per cent less to patch than Linux database servers. The Meta Group audited the survey methodology. "Risk is defined as the number of days between when a vulnerability was identified and when a patch was made available, combined with the amount of time it took organizations to deploy the patch. The study concludes that even when a greater number of patches are deployed for Windows, the costs are lower because it takes about half as much effort per patch to complete the task," Microsoft said. So there you have it. ® Related stories Desktop Linux vs. Windows - don't get emotional Linux set for ERP ascendency 'Independent' report used MS-sourced data to trash OSS MS rapped over anti-Linux ads Alien puppet Linus swiped Linux from SCO, says balanced study
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2005

IP, U-P, we all P together

LettersLetters This week's letters round up has a distinct IP/Piracy/RIAA flavour to it, but with some interesting diversions, to save us all from being too angry on a Friday afternoon. Let's start business with your thoughts on the poor poverty stricken music business and its high priced lawyers: So while the industry is chasing 12yo girls for getting BLUE's latest hit from bittorrent, massive organised crime syndicates are totally obliterating the CD market in other countries and making billions in profit for themselves. Who do you think the RIAA MPAA etc should be focusing on? The theory that 1 song downloaded is 1 sale lost is rubbish. Most of the downloaded tracks would never have been a sale originally because the person downloading them cant afford the CD, or doesn't want to waste £14.99 on a album for one song. However, 1 pirate CD bought buy a customer means they are willing to PAY for the music, just not the huge rates we are gouged by from the music industry. That, in a lot of cases does represent money lost, and money fed into organised crime. Its about time they woke up and fought the real criminals and Gang boss', not aunt sally or little jennie smith. Jason I'm very glad to hear that Governments aren't doing enough to crack down on copyright theft. If they were, I would be concerned that there were other more important things they weren't doing. I'm sure that the perpetrators of large-scale copyright theft are a nefarious bunch, but I don't have any record company executives on my christmas card list either. Any executive of any publicly listed company is concerned about one thing above all others: Growth. Even profitability is second to growth, as profitability can usually be brought about by internal changes - the key to your share price is how much you sell or are going to sell. So, short of publishing high quality music, what can they do to increase their sales? A third of all music is pirated, so they can increase their market share by 50% if they eliminate piracy (what they forget is that pirated music has a market because it COSTS LESS, so this doesn't follow. However, that may not have made it into the powerpoint strategy presentation). Fundamentally, piracy is a type of theft, and so I don't want it to happen anymore than I want someone to break into my house and grab my CD collection. That's fine, but it isn't their moral rights that the record companies are concerned with, but their right to increase their sales. Of course, we're culpable in this as well, as we blindly demand high growth from our pension funds, and therefore our pension funds blindly demand high growth from the record industry (and everyone else). Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's right or sensible. The job of government is to realise this, and then ignore priorities created by money rather than need. The squeeky wheel may well have more grease than it knows what to do with. So, for once, the government is right to yawn and go back to what it was doing before. Many thanks, David This article just highlights again - as if it were necessary - just how out of touch the music industry is. They demand that we do it their way. And when we don't want to, they push even harder. Can't imagine why all my friends and colleagues groaned when they read this, and vowed to a) find ways around the copy protection or b) buy from an online store instead. We don't mind buying the music legitimately, you understand. It's just that when we've bought it, we want to be able to have a copy in the car, in the house, in the bedroom and on both our iPods. And if we can't do that legitimately... Peter Next, Microsoft's co-authored paper on its Avalanche file sharing system provoked, yes, you guessed it, and avalanche of comment. Some of you even managed to mention the RIAA in this context too: There are rumours that the RIAA are behind the proposed "Avalanche" program; by integrating it with Windows for Warships any detected copyright infringement could then be dealt with by firing off a missile instead of a time consuming lawsuit. Captain Cretin I reckon this is more to do with patents than products. I think Microsoft are trying to get patents on P2P technologies to lock down the further development of the field and therefore apply leverage to the RIAA and MPAA. Ken In your article on Bram Cohen's response to Avalanche, you end with a paragraph stating that the Microsoft's group focus is on security of files shared through the system. This is an unfortunate claim. Cohen points out in his analysis of Avalanche that as the new protocol relies on generating completely new fragments of a file, there is no equivalent a secure checksum value for that fragment. In fact, it appears to become easier to poison a swarm than with BitTorrent. Andy More piracy madness, in Australia this time, with charges being brought against a teenager who linked to a dodgy site: Nice story, well no, bad story, good to see it is getting press coverage. I am find this case interesting, and I can't wait for the AFP to begin legal proceedings to extradite the directors of Google, Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves, Microsoft or any other internet search engine that provides all these criminal links to copyrighted works. It will be good to see my tax dollars going to good use pursuing organised crime. Mike " So why would the AFP use public money to protect the IP rights of major record companies, when the majors have shown that they are so effective at protecting themselves without their help?" BECAUSE IT'S A VIOLATION OF LAW, THAT IS WHY ! DUH !!! Time ALL Pirates get the message... Randy Perhaps you and a couple thousand of your friends should queue up outside a police station and each confess one at a time to burning one CD and insist that you get prosecuted for your heinous crimes. There could only be two outcomes. 1) Nonsense lawsuits get dropped. or 2) You're all prosecuted and the criminal justice system falls apart They couldn't very well just arrest the ring leader and charge him with wasting police time because then they'd have to arrest the person who decided to prosecute a child. John You explain to us why IP protection in China is a waste of everyone's time: Why would China ever protect IP? If they invent anything that they really want to protect, they'll just keep it secret. They don't need it to protect their markets as long as they can undercut everyone else's prices. The U.S. government isn't going to punish them by blocking Chinese imports because that would inconvenience too many people who have gotten wealthy by importing Chinese products, and would also create shortages of products the U.S. is no longer able to adequately produce for itself. (I realize there are other countries to consider, but the U.S. seems to be the biggest proponent of strong IP protection.) China would derive no benefit from protecting IP, and I don't see any they could be coerced into doing it. Jude More wonderful stuff from the ever mineable seam that is website accessibility, particularly with Firefox: While many of us consider it a "no brainer" to create web pages that are accessible by all browsers, creating web pages that can only be access by Internet Explorer might, also, be regarded as a "no brainer". The only difference being the level of synaptic activity. Merton Mind you, it's not as if ElRag works perfectly with the alternative offerings, either. Try loading theregister.co.uk in Opera and then choose "Full Screen". It renders, but it's not pretty, is it? Dick Fair point. Our recommendation is that in the short term, you avoid doing that. And we are currently choosing to assume that you have referred to us as El Rag by mistake... You do a Mystic Meg and come over all prescient about the effect of allowing mobile phones onto planes: I can see it now "Airline passenger arrested for theft of and Greavious Bodily Harm with a Mobile phone"... it's not like an aeroplane is somewhere where you want to be introducing that sort of stress, screaming babies is bad enough, especially back in cockroach class. Personally I hope they keep the ban in place, or at least the airlines ban mobiles (or at least voice calls) themselves - I believe a few have already said they will in Europe. The other solution is to stop the Yah's at the boarding gate and demand they hand over all their electronic gizmo's claiming they need to be kept in a lead lined box for the safety of the passengers (specifically the Yah themselves! ;) Keep up the good work :) Johann You wrote - "In Europe, the ban would have to be lifted by the aviation authorities in the individual Member States." I have previously discussed this with the UK CAA and they do NOT ban the use of mobile telephones on board aircraft (unlike the FAA). The report issued by UK CAA (about 3 years ago - and should still be available on their 'safety' website) showed that typical usage of GSM/Tetra mobile telephones did NOT interfere with aircraft systems to a level which caused them any concern. I believe it is the mobile telephone companies who have a problem (with high altitude aircraft) due to the mobile telephone being 'seen' by a large number of base stations at one time -- and their systems don't cope well with scenario. Also, I believe that the airlines (including those in the UK) are happy to extend the 'myth' that these devices can interfere with aircraft systems in order that the general public is led to believe that they should 'pay extra' for an airline provided communications system. I certainly would agree with though that don't want my fellow passengers in close proximity 'gossiping endlessly' on their phones during what are already often long and tedious journeys. Regards, Alan. I can't think of anything more annoying on a flight then having the person sat next to me yakking away on a mobile 'phone the whole flight. We only need to add hands-free headsets to convert the whole thing into a flying asylum with everybody talking to the voices in their heads. Air rage? It's only just beginning... Colin How eating chips can be a good thing medically speaking: Yeah, right. Did you notice how they reported that the in-patient Pentium is just 2mm x 2mm. That's a teeny bit smaller than normal - the smallest ever die size for a Pentium was 80mm2 - not 4mm2! And just how are they going to power something like that? I'd hate to have that inside me running at full tilt. As Homer Simpson said after descending to Hell "ooo, barbecue!". Methinks someone somewhere got the wrong end of the stick. Ken Using a bluetooth link to a mobile phone for a medical device seems like a sure way to kill someone. I've had about a dozen phones with bluetooth over a short amount of time. None of them were worth the 20p it cost to add the BT functionality to them. All of them, including the new 7710 have serious interoperability problems with devices leading to daily reboots of the phones just to get the bluetooth links working. Somehow I don't see the poor users wanting to reboot their PC's every few hours just incase... That's if the phones can find & connect to the medical devices in the first place. Hamish How long before a certain half man / half bullshit producing machine pops up and declares that this is somehow an extension of his own "experiments" and declares that all diabetics are now Cyborgs? Actually come to think of it I don't recall Arnie eating anything sugary in any of the Terminator films. I'll be hiding under the table awaiting armageddon if anyone needs me. Neil And finally, this week saw the launch of an experimental solar-sail powered space ship. You liked the idea, but had some thoughts about who should be allowed to captain it: Don't tell Ellen MacArcthur whatever you do - she'll want to be the first to single handedly sail round the solar system. You can imagine the TV programme and diary now.... "Thursday 07:47. Compass still buggered, can't understand it. Feel so alone; I'm trying to keep my spirits up but I'm really worried I've missed the best winds, and Alexei will be a good day ahead of me now." "Friday 13:21. Had a great day, we're really flying now. I'm really going to miss this old gal when we get back to Cape Pompey" "Friday 19.12. So depressed. We were going so well when a comet hit the mast. Just spent 3 hours spacewalking trying to fix the thing...." Mark That's yer lot. Have lovely weekends, y'all. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Jun 2005

Sun layoffs hit hundreds in US

Sun Microsystems has laid off several hundred workers in the US, Canada and Latin America, as it continues to try and cut costs, El Reg can confirm. Sources this week told The Register that engineering and sales staffers were particularly hard hit by the most recent cuts. Sun declined to provide specific details on what areas were affected or exactly how many cuts were made but did confirm some layoffs. "In conjunction with fiscal 2006 planning, budgets and resource alignment, some Sun business units/functions implemented small rebalancing activities this week," Sun said in a statement. "This was not an across the board reduction, rather a part of a long-term effort to re-balance workforce and ensure resources are aligned closely with critical business needs." Since 2004, Sun has been axing various groups one team at time. It waved goodbye to 200 UK server staffers in May of last year, then ploncked a few more heads in September and has been reported to cleave off more software and server staffers since. The company has been working hard to reduce its breakeven point in the hopes of tying together a few quarters of profits. Despite a fall in revenue, Sun management is often quick to point out its outstanding track record at generating cash - something which has allowed the company to make numerous acquisitions, including the $3bn buy of StorageTek. ® Related stories Analysts circle HP with CEO's hammer expected to come down HP to drop 3,000 staff in fiscal '05 IBM to fix bad quarter by axing 13,000 jobs Sun burns Solaris and Linux staffers Sun posts one penny profit in Q2, as revenue falls
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2005

Shareholders approve Symantec and Veritas marriage

Symantec and Veritas shareholders today gave the go ahead for the merger of the two software companies. At a special meeting, Symantec revealed that 95 per cent of the votes cast were in favor of its purchase of Veritas - an all-stock deal originally tagged at $13.5bn. Veritas watched as 98 per cent of the votes cast by its shareholders approved the acquisition. The purchase should close on July 2 and create a security/storage software giant that touches consumers and business customers alike. There were a few grumbles from large shareholders and analysts leading up to the vote. The pundits questioned whether slower-growing Veritas, which specializes in data backup and storage management, would weigh down a revitalized Symantec, which owns a large chunk of the security software market. The companies have argued that their businesses fit well together, creating a total data protection package. Investors seem to have bought this message. In total, close to 506m Symantec shares went in favor of the deal with 28m shares against and 6m shares not voting. "The new Symantec will help customers balance the need to both secure their information and make it available, thus ensuring its integrity," John Thompson, CEO of Symantec who will also run the combined company. "We believe that information integrity provides the most cost-effective, responsive way to keep businesses up, running and growing in the face of system failures, internet threats or natural disasters." Veritec would appear to be gearing up for a long, protracted battle with Microsoft. Redmond has made it quite clear that it plans to attack the anti-virus and storage markets with force. Of course, it probably won't organize the troops fully or release code until 2010, so Symantec and Veritas have some time. All in all, it was nice to see an IT mega-merger close without any dogs or poets being threatened. Maybe Larry and Carly learned a couple lessons. ® Related stories Veritas embraces 64-bit Windows/Linux on Opteron Veritas plans to hand SEC $30m to end accounting saga Veritas gets unusual services boost in Q1 Veritas preps secret weapon to ease licensing horror Veritas CEO stays silent on Symantec dreams Can compliance-challenged Veritas sell compliance? Veritas CEO promises Symantec buy will be kind and gentle Symantec outlines plans for Veritas Symantec buys Veritas for $13.5bn stock
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2005
DVD it in many colours

Geeks should 'outsource themselves' - Mongolian BoFH

CommentComment It's hot hiring time in China now! If you want to have a paid vacation for 6 months or 1 year, think about coming to China! Your English skills and IT skills are in demand right now.
Doctor John, 24 Jun 2005

RIM lawsuit: all over bar the judgment?

The US Patent Office has struck down two more patents held by the IP company NTP, which has been a costly thorn in the side of Research in Motion. Seven out of eight patents that formed the core of NTP's litigation have now been invalidated. A settlement formed in March this year saw RIM agree to pay $450m to license the patents. But RIM says NTP is refusing to honor its side of the deal, and reports have surfaced hinting that NTP wanted better terms than the two parties had agreed. RIM has asked a Virginia District Court to enforce the deal. Donald Stout, co-founder of NTP, told CNET this week that the patents were worth over a billion. Nokia has struck a licensing deal with NTP for an undisclosed sum. ® Related stories RIM settles NTP lawsuit for $450m RIM takes NTP to court - again Business email services squeeze BlackBerry
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Jun 2005

PayPal founder on Google's Wallet

Max Levchin co-founded PayPal in 1998, and saw it through a public flotation and its acquisition by eBay for $1.5bn in 2002. He now heads his own incubator, MRL Ventures. So Google has a finance company. What now? I prefer to think of PayPal as a risk management business, but that's a separate point. Assuming what has been publicized is sufficiently close to reality, the important question is what's the transactional market Google is trying to address with Wallet. I think attacking eBay-proper is just not very likely, at least today. It's going to be very hard for anyone, and possibly even for Google, to compete on PayPal's home-turf; but it's not unprecedented: PayPal competed there and won once before. How did PayPal win? You were involved in a pretty high-profile lawsuit, entrapping some fraudsters. Multiple factors, but a big one was fraud, yes. eBay was already a public company - losing millions of dollars per month - and learning how to manage fraud was an extremely scary proposition to them at the time. PayPal was a startup and had the cojones to learn how to beat fraud the hard way, so while eBay generally chose the safer strategy, for example, declining risky-looking transactions, PayPal had a more compelling offering, because we were willing to take on a lot more risk. PayPal is very well integrated with eBay at this point. So PayPal's growth was pretty symbiotic with eBay - even before they bought the company? We were in a way, their growth engine - we were taking on their riskier users, which meant (among others) their new users, where there is the least amount of available information. And so more people could join and transact, and feel happy about eBay; and so in the end it was a great match - we matured into a very sophisticated risk manager, and they realized that we were better at it than they could ever be. At the time, roughly half of PayPal's business was on eBay too. And now? PayPal has been (before and after the ebay acquisition) diversifying, the one visible example is the iTunes deal with Apple. There is a whole unit with PayPal dedicated to getting into additional transactional markets outside eBay; so this off-eBay space can become the Google-payments vs PayPal battleground. Adding payments processing to Froogle would certainly be one thing Google could do in the course of that battle. But Google says it isn't competing head-on with PayPal, or at least not the "stored" credit part. So what does that leave? There are a few areas: eBay ecommerce, off-eBay ecommerce, gambling, adult, and (google-specific) adwords/adsense payments. Without an auction site, it's going to be hard. The fundamental problem of diversifying from, or battling for off-eBay is that there are very few consolidated marketplaces of even comparable scale. Where do you go to find all non-eBay collectable sellers? To a specialist auction site? There's a successful one for antiques... Yeah, but there is an ocean of sites out there of every kind, some are even probably fakes. The value that eBay brings to the table is certain saftey of the experience, knowledge that most people selling stuff are really who they say they are, and so on. Froogle has a number of similar characteristics, though at the moment, the transactions don't happen under Google's supervision or participation. So the only volume that makes sense here is the the combined volume of all these little and medium-sized sellers. though I have no idea what that is compared to eBay. So Google pitches Froogle as an eBay but with 'reputable merchants'? Well, at the moment it certainly isn't. No, maybe it is - I just bought something from it! So back to Risk Management. Can you explain it in a nutshell? The fundamental business model of PayPal is "seller pays for the right to acccept payments in a risk-free (or at least risk-reduced) transaction", and the fundamental game is can you charge the seller low enough rates to keep things interesting for her, while losing little enough money on the risk management part to keep things interesting for yourself! Which is why the core PayPal "skill" is risk management. And this is quite a different skillset. Is it one that's a core Google competency right now? No, it's not, and Google needs to recruit. I think their key recruiting challenge will be risk management people. which is trickier than one might think. Risk management people come from old-school places like retail banks, and they favor conservative-first approaches, which almost always ends up being expressed as risk policies that favor old, established customers, and turn away transactions from new, riskier customers. Even people from sub-prime card issuers and lenders frequently have that attitude, which can be deadly for your growth. The advantage that PayPal has, which may be difficult even for Google to stomach, though, is an enormous (at this point) amount of data: good transactions, bad transcations, and variables to describe those, and the only way you can get that data (which has to be specific to your particular type of transactions, etc) is by letting bad transactions go through your system and learning from that. And that hurts! And you're skeptical that this has anything to do with Adsense? My opinion (given a back of the napkin estimate) is that it's not the advertising transactions that are driving their entree here. There's another avenue we didn't discuss in depth: and its the role of a Google or Yahoo! as a clearing house for rights holders. The really useful stuff is locked up in databases and collections and individual publisher's archives. Google has had a really bruising experience with Google Library, so far. Its preferred strategy of not charging a fee, but putting text ads around the material, doesn't fly. So the question is whether the database holders, like Lexis Nexis, will work with Google or Yahoo!, or prefer to work through other institutions, such as libraries and churches. What do you think? Let us know. ® Related stories Yelp! A viral recommendation system you can't resist? How scammers run rings round eBay PayPal goes after small biz Google boss confirms payment plan eBay meets target, splits stock but price tumbles
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Jun 2005
Broken CD with wrench

Sun and EMC form broad technology pact. No, really

Sometime lovers, sometime fighters Sun Microsystems and EMC made this the feel good week of the year for the two companies by announcing a broad technology collaboration. EMC has agreed to support Sun's new Solaris 10 operating system across its line of storage hardware. That's hardly a surprise given that EMC sells millions of dollars in storage attached to Sun servers. A more surprising element of their deal has EMC agree to support Sun's version of Solaris 10 for x86 systems. The vast majority of Sun's server business still hinges on UltraSPARC-based servers. EMC didn't necessarily have to help Sun out on its fledging x86 effort just yet, but it did. And that's a nice boost for Sun and its customers. "As Sun delivers Solaris 10 across multiple platforms, EMC will be a key enabler for our joint customers to deploy it as part of an information lifecycle management strategy that drives efficiencies and productivity and helps reduce the total cost of ownership for information technology and business operations," said EMC VP Howard Elias. In return, Sun will help EMC port its PowerPath, Legato NetWorker, Documentum and Smarts storage management software over to both Solaris 10 for Sparc and x86. Sun and EMC squabble a fair bit in the storage sector. EMC, after all, sells more storage onto Solaris servers than Sun. That's always been a pain in Sun's side and something the company has never been able to rectify. In addition, Sun resells Hitachi's high-end storage systems instead of those from EMC. The two companies, however, clearly made nice here with pure business benefits in mind. "Supporting Sun’s Opteron and Solaris 10 efforts will likely further cement (EMC's) position among existing Sun customers, and also present opportunities among new clients," wrote Pund-IT analyst Charles King. "Overall, we see the companies’ hardware, software, and support initiatives as a practical means to a practical end for both EMC and Sun. By working in concert once again, the two companies are also pursuing their own individual best interests." For Sun, in particular, this has to be seen as a real positive. Many users still scoff at the ISV support for Solaris x86, saying the big names are there only in spirt. "Wait till you see a problem come up on your Oracle cluster, and then you'll find out how deep the support runs" - is the idea. Sun is desperate to show some traction for its Opteron products, pointing to the sale of the sale of 1,700 Opteron-based servers to investment and technology development firm D.E. Shaw. ® Related stories Storage vendors suffer vertical vertigo EMC slices and dices Centera into 'virtual pools' Start-up reckons it can give you twice the processor Larry Ellison branded storage absent at Oracle
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2005