15th > July > 2005 Archive


OS/2: dead again

On Tuesday, IBM formally announced that it would cease marketing OS/2 at the end of next year. This might cause wry amusement among the operating system's remaining enthusiasts, who maintain that IBM really never started marketing OS/2 in the first place. These death notices are almost an annual occurrence now. IBM ceased serious development on OS/2 in 1996, told regular users to shove off five years ago, and we've already run our valedictory, which leaves little more to add. IBM has told its customers they'll continue to receive support, provided they pay for it - unlike Windows NT 4.0, or Windows 2000, we might add. That's because IBM tries to stick by Thomas Watson's 1956 edict that the company will honor a promise to its customers "no matter what the cost" - and one global credit card company continues to rely on OS/2. (Microsoft's equivalent promise seems to be "start a weblog about it, regardless of the cost". But that's touchy-feely modern marketing for you, where what you say is supposed to carry more weight than what you actually do.) We tracked down one OS/2 developer today in the twilight world of embedded networking systems, where OS/2 has lived on. It's no big deal, he told us. "I mean TCP/IP and SNA are not going to stop working, are they?," he told us. "Well, I bloody hope not." German vendor eComStation continues to provide extended support. IBM agreed damages with Microsoft over the latter's exclusionary tactics designed to keep OS/2 from being a success. ® Related stories Microsoft uses $850m to kiss and make up with IBM So farewell then, OS/2 - Windowed to death, finally IBM to OS/2 users: Achieve neutrality! Change OS! Wicked IBM execs bayonet ailing OS/2 Bill's vision for the future of the PC, c1980 - er, Xenix Microsoft gets green light to punish OS-less PC vendors From the trial vaults: Killing OS/2 by quotas: how MS Win95 deals stifle rivals Cut a deal or you don't get Win95: IBM faces PC suicide The day Bill Gates screamed IBM's house down IBM witness: the inside poop on MS and IBM killing OS/2 IBM exec outlines MS plan to throttle OS/2, Lotus Justice throws Microsoft OS/2-shaped lifebelt
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Jul 2005
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SCO knew Linux doesn't infringe - memo

SCO's CEO Darl McBride was told that the Linux kernel contained no SCO copyright code six months before the company issued its first lawsuit, a memo reveals. An outside consultant Bob Swartz conducted the audit, and on August 13 2002 Caldera's Michael Davidson reported the results. "At the end we found absolutely nothing. Ie no evidence of copyright infringement whatsoever," wrote Davidson. "There is, indeed, a lot of code that is common between UNIX and Linux (all of the X Window system for example) but invariably it turned out that the common code was something that both we (SCO) and the Linux community had obtained (legitimately) from a third party," Davidson concluded. SCO's insistence that Linux did infringe its IP formed the basis for subsequent licensing deals with Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, lawsuits against IBM, Novell and two Linux customers, and an investment push which netted over $30 million. McBride subsequently claimed that, "we're finding cases where there is line-by-line code in the Linux kernel that is matching up to our UnixWare code," but SCO has failed to produce evidence that upholds the claim. The memo had been referred to in court last September, but remained under seal. SCO has attempted to reposition the case as a contract dispute - but this doesn't exactly help. Groklaw has the PDF and an ASCII version here. ® Related stories Linux lovers must wait until 2007 for SCO vs IBM showdown Novell versus SCO will go to court Ex-Sun VP guns for IP violations Insiders reveal SCO's Monterey disarray
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Jul 2005

Microsoft and Claria: together at last?

CommentComment I don't get mad too easily, but there's one thing guaranteed to really get me steaming, and that's when someone is lying to me. Right now I'm feeling lied to, and while I could be wrong, I don't think I am. Worse, I don't think I'm the only one who's the victim here. I think virtually all of you are having your chains yanked as well. Let me explain by going back in time about a month or so.
Scott Granneman, 15 Jul 2005

How much does a security breach actually cost?

CommentComment How much does a security breach actually "cost," and who pays for it? When the breach involves personal information, like credit card data, the answer is, a lot more than you may think. The problem is that the people who "pay" for the cost of the breach are rarely the ones responsible for preventing the breach.
Mark Rasch, 15 Jul 2005
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Online-only brands 'lack trust'

Despite the convenience of shopping online, nearly two out of three consumers prefer to buy a known and trusted brand that also exists offline, a new study claims. A survey of over 1,000 customers by insurers Direct Line shows even though internet buying is surging in popularity, shoppers still do not trust online-only brands. Only one in three feel as well-informed when purchasing goods online as they do when buying face-to-face or over the phone, while 83 per cent prefer access to an expert, a feature not inherent in web-based companies. “Consumers today want the convenience of the internet and the comfort of knowing an expert is at the other end of the phone at any time,” said Emma Holyer, from Direct Line. The survey found the attitude pervasive across all age groups, particularly among 25- to 34-year-olds, an audience typically more relaxed to brand affiliation. Some 65 per cent of this group said they believe brand awareness to be a key factor when purchasing online. Copyright © 2005,
Team Register, 15 Jul 2005

Another pitch to Parliament for Denial of Service law

Tom Harris MP presented a bill to Parliament that would amend the UK's 15-year-old cybercrime law to confirm that denial of service attacks are illegal. A similar bill was pitched in March but was defeated by the timetable for the general election. The Labour MP for Glasgow South called for amendments to the Computer Misuse Act of 1990 in his Ten Minute Rule Bill – a type of Private Member's Bill that rarely becomes law, but serves to raise Parliamentary awareness of a need for legal reform. Tom Harris’s Computer Misuse Act 1990 (Amendment) Bill picks up on the key recommendations of an inquiry into the original Act by the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group, known as APIG, published in June 2004. The Group exists to provide a discussion forum between new media industries and parliamentarians. The report led to APIG Chairman Derek Wyatt MP’s own Ten Minute Rule Bill of April 2005, although this was not the first attempt to change the Act: in 2002, the Earl of Northesk introduced his own Ten Minute Rule Bill – but like most such bills, it died. Like Mr Wyatt's recent proposal, Mr Harris's Bill amends section three of the Computer Misuse Act in order to explicitly criminalise all means of interference with a computer system, in particular creating a specific offence for denial of service (DoS) attacks. The Bill also increases the tariff for hacking offences (dealt with in section one of the Act) from six months to two years, and from five to ten years for further related offences. Wyatt said: “We welcome this Bill particularly as it reflects the work of the All Party Group over the last two years and especially my own Ten Minute Rule Bill from earlier this year. We hope that the Government adopts the measures proposed in the Bill as a matter of urgency, reflecting the significant threat that cybercrime poses to the UK.” In his speech to the House of Commons, Harris highlighted the inconsistency between the severe financial consequences of hacking attacks that can cause losses of millions of pounds and the sentences currently possible to punish such attacks. He gave some examples of DoS attacks, including one that had been launched by one of his own constituents, a gun enthusiast, who bombarded a gun control website with so many emails that its server crashed. The website contacted Harris to complain. Harris said: "This is an issue that up until now hasn't been taken seriously enough. So much of the UK economy depends on the internet, and so many services are vulnerable if we allow these attackers to go unpunished. It's time we faced up to this new threat." Wyatt's bill ran out of Parliamentary time. It would otherwise have been read a second time. Nobody opposed Mr Harris's bill and it is scheduled for a second reading on 2nd December 2005. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. See: Text of Tom Harris's speech APIG's report (30-page / 314KB PDF) More details of APIG's inquiry leading to the report Computer Misuse Act 1990 Earl of Northesk's proposed changes from 2002 (2-page / 172KB PDF) See also: Parliament hears 10 minutes on Denial of Service law, OUT-LAW News, 07/04/2005 MP pitches Denial of Service law to Parliament, OUT-LAW News, 10/03/2005 Computer Misuse Act needs reforming, concludes APIG, OUT-LAW News, 30/06/2004 Internet industry calls for Computer Misuse Act review, OUT-LAW News, 12/12/2002
OUT-LAW.COM, 15 Jul 2005

ICANN Blog: Food fights and lawyers

The interview with Chancellor Schroeder, ICANN's behind-the-scenes powerhouse, has been postponed until after the meeting, if at all. A loss as it would be interesting to see what the CFO has to say about the $23-odd million pumped into this organisation. Not only does Ms. Schroeder likely know where the skeletons are, she probably dug the graves.
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Jul 2005

Fake press release pumps up the volume

There were red-faces in the Dutch financial news sector yesterday after a fake press release touting a major telecoms takeover prompted journalists to post stories and investors to bid up shares in the companies concerned. In the fake release, telecoms giant Versatel and Talpa Capital, the company behind Dutch media tycoon and Big Brother creator John de Mol, 'announced' they were in in takeover talks with Deutsche Telekom: That's not as unrealistic as it seems: just last month there were tie-up talks between Versatel, Talpa and Belgacom. All these companies are interested in the marriage of television, internet and telecommunications. When the 'news' hit the wires on Thursday, shares of Versatel went up five per cent on the Dutch stock market. Even ANP, the most important news supplier in the Netherlands, reported the possible take over, as well as Dow Jones. Dutch banker Theodoor Gilissen issued a sell advisory, based on the release. By midday, Talpa and Versatel dropped a bombshell by saying that the press release was a fake, possibly sent by fraudsters who want to make a quick buck. Stock scams usually arrive in mailboxes as newsletters that purport to offer unbiased recommendations ("HOT Pick Ready To Explode All Week!"). The idea is that unwitting investors purchase the stock in droves, creating high demand and pumping up the price. However, some reports suggest that the press release might also have been a malicious joke. Versatel, which lodged a complaint with the Dutch Public Prosecutor Service, is currently trying to find out who is responsible for the ploy by analysing the headers and the IP address of the mail message. The scheme raises serious questions about the reliability of press releases, and the vigilance of press agencies, in particular since the press release was sent through an anonymous remailer called Shitzooi ("Shit mess"). That name even appeared in the header of the mail. ANP admitted that they have failed to do what they normally do: always doublecheck with the source. Related stories Stock spam scams ramping up Hoaxster hacker discovers infinite-wealth algorithm Daytrader nabbed for fake Lucent BB posting
Jan Libbenga, 15 Jul 2005

Rambus reports record revenue

Rambus last night reported net income of $5.4m (five cents a share) on sales of $40m for the three months to 30 June 2005. The memory technology developer and serial litigator's second quarter revenues were up one percentage point sequentially and up 14 per cent over the year ago quarter's total. Rambus heralded the figure as a quarterly revenue record-breaker, the second in succession. New contracts contributed $5.4m to the $40m revenue, down 18 per cent on the previous quarter although one percentage point up on Q2 FY2004. The reason for the decline: fewer new deals for the company's XDR memory and FlexIO technologies now that the initial big deals with companies developing products around the Cell processor come to a conclusion, Rambus said. Royalty revenues were up 17 per cent year on year and five per cent sequentially, the gains coming from growing SDRAM and DDR royalty payments, the company added. The quarter's net income was up 22.7 per cent sequentially, but down 34.9 per cent year on year. Rambus spent $34.4m in costs and expenses during the quarter, up from $24.4m in Q2 FY2004. More than half of that increase - $5.2m - arose from the company's legal activity, already a big cost centre. During the quarter, Rambus launched legal proceedings against Samsung, alleging its XDR licensing partner had separately infringed dozens of patents it holds that it maintains are central to the way DDR 2 memory devices operate. Rambus did not provide guidance for Q3 or Q4's sales and earnings, stating that "the second half of the year is a challenge to forecast given the number of patent license agreements and renewals we are currently negotiating". ® Related stories Rambus unveils 8GHz XDR 2 IBM licenses Rambus XDR interface Rambus counter sues Samsung Samsung countersues Rambus Rambus sues Samsung Rambus calls on co-founder to forecast future FTC claims Rambus spoiled antitrust evidence
Tony Smith, 15 Jul 2005

Cisco patches security software

Cisco's security software is itself subject to a hazardous security bug. Certain versions of the network giant's desktop and server intrusion prevention client - Cisco Security Agent - are vulnerable to a denial of service attack. Cisco has issued a patch. The vulnerability stems from an error within the packet handling of the software which creates a mechanism to crash vulnerable systems via a specially crafted IP packet. The software bug affects CSA version 4.5 running on Windows system (excluding Windows XP). The bug was discovered by Ben Collins of InfoSec Research Labs. More info on the glitch and links to the relevant hotfix can be found here. ® Related stories Cisco fixes 'decoy attack' in security software Cisco source code theft part of 'mega-hack' Cisco beefs up IOS security Security products 'riddled' with bugs Cisco Security Agent laid bare
John Leyden, 15 Jul 2005

BenQ ships first AMD notebook

BenQ has launched its first AMD-based notebook, although for now the product is destined only for the Taiwanese market. The Joybook R22E-T17 ships with a Mobile Sempron 2600+ processor backed by 256MB of DDR SDRAM, a 40GB hard drive, a 15in display, DVD-ROM drive and 802.11g Wi-Fi. According to a DigiTimes report, the unit is available for TWD19,999 ($626). The notebook's appearance contradicts comments made earlier this week by BenQ that it was not planning to produce such a machine. It was asked the question after HP announced a series of similarly priced AMD-based notebooks, seen by many local players as too keenly priced to make a profit. AMD-based notebooks are expected to become more commonplace through the rest of the year, the report suggests, as other vendors enter this segment of the market. It cites sources who claim AMD is looking to increase its share of the Taiwanese notebook market this year from five per cent to more than nine per cent. ® Related stories AMD shrugs off Intel shackles for ace Q2 AMD alleges Intel compilers create crash code for its chips EC officials raid Intel offices Intel 'ditches' high-end 'Centrino 3' chipset Dixons disses AMD claims Intel to add VT to P4 in Q4 Transmeta hails positive Q2 cash flow
Tony Smith, 15 Jul 2005

Date set for Intel's response to AMD antitrust claims

AMD vs IntelAMD vs Intel Lawyers from Intel and AMD will meet for an initial court conference in the first week of August, over a month before Intel must file its response to AMD's allegations, court documents seen by The Register reveal. AMD's legal action against its arch-rival, alleging the chip giant engaged in anti-competitive behaviour in violation of US antitrust law, is being heard by the US District Court of Delaware. The complaint was filed last month. The latest court filing reveals Intel has until 6 September to respond the AMD's complaint. It also notes that Intel's Japanese subsidiary, Intel Kabushiki - aka Intel KK - has "acknowledged service of the complaint as if the same had been effected by the Japanese Central Authority", as per the Hague Convention. Essentially, the non-US company is accepting the remit of the Delaware court in this matter. Earlier, AMD subpoenaed Fujitsu and Avnet, calling them to court at some as-yet-undecided point in the future to testify. AMD has already sent subpoenas to Ingram, Supermicro, CompUSA, Fry's and Office Depot, earlier court documents reveal. ® Related stories AMD shrugs off Intel shackles for ace Q2 AMD alleges Intel compilers create crash code for its chips EC officials raid Intel offices Dixons disses AMD claims AMD wants Intel evidence from 30 firms AMD Japan sues Intel for $50m damages - and then some Can anyone compete with Intel? AMD says, 'No!' AMD files anti-trust suit against Intel
Tony Smith, 15 Jul 2005

Freedom of Information Act 'making a difference' to UK

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has issued new guidelines for the public sector on how to deal with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and data protection requirements. In the first annual report from the ICO since the FOI Act came into force, the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, says that it is already clear that the new laws are making a difference, and that he is encouraged by the progress so far. "At every level of public life, a great deal of material has been published which has never before seen the light of day...The success of these laws will not be judged by how many requests are made or complaints upheld, but by the readiness of public bodies to release information, proactively or on request," he writes. On data protection, he acknowledges that "We can't do this because of data protection" is too often invoked by "lazy or incompetent organisations" as an excuse not to do something. He adds: "The law very rarely stops a valid activity altogether. Rather it regulates how information should be handled so that there are no surprises and no mistakes." He notes that although there have been complaints about disclosure refusals (over 1,000 to date) the majority of refusals are not challenged. However, around half of the complaints filed cover procedural issues, suggesting that public bodies are still not totally clear about their obligations and responsibilities under the Act. This has prompted the ICO to collate new top-level guidelines for public bodies dealing with requests for information. The guidelines (which you can read in full on this pdf) broadly encourage public bodies to be positive and proactive about releasing information. "Don't wait to be asked" says one tip, "Supply additional information, where it is useful" says another. It also recommends being extremely clear about the reasons when a request has to be refused, and reminds organisations that the 20 day deadline must be met. "The principles and rights available under freedom of information laws provide a powerful reminder that governments serve the people, not the other way round," Thomas says. We can't help but agree with that sentiment, even if there are 210 reasons to refuse a request for information. You can read the full report (also a pdf) here. ® Related stories 210 reasons to refuse a Freedom of Information request Firemen challenge £31m planned IT bill General election debate misses purpose of ID cards
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Jul 2005

ISPA wins assurances from Bulldog

ISPA - the UK's ISP trade body - has secured assurances from Bulldog that customer service at the broadband ISP is improving after a deluge of customer complaints. ISPA has received so many complaints about the local loop unbundling (LLU) ISP from hacked off punters that it contacted Bulldog a couple of weeks ago. And following a meeting yesterday the Secretary General of ISPA Nicholas Lansman contacted Bulldog's chief commercial officer Andrew Morley to discuss the complaints. Although ISPA declined to comment on what assurances it had received from Bulldog, a spokesman told us: "We have been assured things are getting better. We've been assured that actions are being taken to make them better and that these will happen quickly." El Reg has learned that Bulldog is on the verge of opening two new contact centres to cope with the high number of calls from customers. A spokeswoman for Bulldog told us: "Bulldog takes these customer complaints very, very seriously. We are working to rectify these problems and putting lots of steps in place to make things better." Bulldog - what customers are saying The Register has received a number of emails from readers detailing their experiences. The consistent thread throughout all emails is the difficulty customers face in contacting Bulldog if they have a problem. Wrote one reader: "I signed up with Bulldog seven weeks ago, they've missed my install date and are totally unreachable when I try to contact them. No matter what time of day you call the support line tells you that they have very high call levels and to call back later before cutting you off. Emails likewise go unanswered for weeks. Another told us: "When the change over happens, if anything goes wrong, (and it probably will) you are left without a telephone and/or Internet connection. If you ring BT (maybe only an hour's wait) they blame Bulldog and tell you to contact them. If you manage to get through to Bulldog they blame BT and claim they can do nothing, because BT still control your line. In my case I was without a telephone for over a week and ADSL for nine days when I moved to Bulldog. Just to rub it in, they emailed connection details and the modem arrived 2 days after I was reconnected. Local loop unbundling, its somewhere between a sick joke and a national disgrace. My advice is DONT DO IT!! Then there's this: "I have a friend who is with Bulldog has never had a problem with his service - but then he has never had to deal with customer services. I, on the other hand, have a problem with my broadband service and the customer service/technical assistance has been abysmal. I haven't had broadband for the last two months." Finally, there's this one, which typifies the frustration experienced by some people. "It is impossible to get through to their customer service line at any time of day and they do not appear to read or respond to any emails sent to their customer service email address. "I had an incredible situation where I ordered Bulldog service in April then cancelled my order within two weeks. I then proceeded to take broadband through another ISP which was delivered promptly. In June, Bulldog emailed me to say they were about to migrate my service to them. I emailed them a number of times and tried calling them to stop them, but to no avail. "Eventually Bulldog disconnected my broadband, failed to connect me to Bulldog and failed to respond to any of my increasingly frustrated emails requesting they fix their mistakes and then leave my phone line alone. Unable to get any form of response from Bulldog I phoned BT begging them to somehow stop Bulldog from going anywhere near my phone line ever again, but was told that there was nothing that BT could do. "About four days later my phone line was disconnected and I was left without phone service for almost a week. I have been charged a £58 to reconnect my internet, been left without broadband for over two weeks (I work from home). I have mailed Bulldog customer service and Bulldog complaints to request a refund for the reconnection fee, but unsurprisingly, have received no reply. "The thing that completely amazes me is that all this happened even despite me clearly telling them that I didn't want Bulldog Broadband and had cancelled (or so I thought), nearly six weeks before. The final irony is that I received a phone message from Bulldog yesterday asking me if I wanted to cancel my service - and if I did, to please call them back on their customer service line; the same line that I've been trying to get through on for weeks. "At this point I've given up on hearing for them and am waiting for the 28 days to pass in which their website says that all complaints should be handled. When that passes without response, as I fully expect it to, I will be contacting OFCOM." ® Related stories ISPA contacts Bulldog over spike in customer complaints Alcatel reports higher earnings ISPA warns on choosing an ISP
Tim Richardson, 15 Jul 2005

Google spots Jesus in Peruvian sand dune

Black helicopter alertBlack helicopter alert There's some very good news today for those readers who do not have the good fortune to live in either the UK or the US of A - you now officially exist according to Google UK. Yup, maps.google.co.uk has now restored those bits of the the globe previously not thought worthy of inclusion in the big map - which was everywhere except Blighty and the States, Canada, Central America, some Caribbean islands and the Irish Republic. There's more on the terrifying conspiracy theory behind this mass erasure in our previous report into the matter. But before the black helicopters can return to base, we must ask this simple question: Why has Google Maps chosen to remain silent on the small matter of having located Jesus Christ in a Peruvian sand dune? We find it impossible to believe that Google didn't spot this ghostly Turin shroudesque image of Our Lord in the South American sands. What are they not telling us? A quick phone call to Erich von Däniken confirmed our initial suspicions that the image was hewn from the sand by an ancient civilisation using hot air balloons and alien laser technology borrowed from the scientists of Atlantis. Either that or someone is projecting a picture of Charles Manson onto the desert from a low Earth orbit, Erich told El Reg before popping out to discover a representation of an extraterrestrial wearing an Apple iPod carved into a stone by Mayan artisans in 500BC. Whatever the truth, the implications of this discovery are chilling indeed. Sinister things are afoot at Google, make no mistake. ® Bootnote Muchas gracias to reader Lee Staniforth for his satellite spotting skills. Related stories Google redraws world according to George Bush Need a brothel? Ask Google Google conquers planet Earth
Lester Haines, 15 Jul 2005

TechnoDepot gets to grips with DNS

Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion We know how much you enjoy the excellent range of top-notch apparel produced by those wags down at TechnoDepot, so we're absolutely delighted to announce the immediate availability of their latest offering, the DNS: It's a real bind t-shirt. We're sure we don't need to explain this one to you, our tech-savvy readership, so we'll just get straight down to the business of telling you that the shirt is the usual 100 per cent cotton offering, available in sizes from large to XXXL for a modest £12.76 (£14.99 inc VAT). There are also the full range of TechnoDepot shirts down at Cash'n'Carrion, including the ever-popular WTF? and our personal favourite, the marvellous Warning: Dates on calendar are closer than they appear. ®
Cash'n'Carrion, 15 Jul 2005

Playing video games 'good for your health'

Playing computer games can be good for your health, according to a British boffin. Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University, reckons that research into the effects of playing computer games "is often trivialised". Yet, he believes it should be taken more seriously especially since it can help aid the recovery of people who are ill. His article in the British Medical journal (BMJ) found that playing games "can distract the player from the sensation of pain, a strategy that has been reported and evaluated among paediatric patients". Video games can also be used to supplement physiotherapy or occupational therapy helping increase the strength in players' hands, for example. "Such games focus attention away from potential discomfort and, unlike more traditional therapeutic activities, they do not rely on passive movements and sometimes painful manipulation of the limbs," he wrote. But he also acknowledged that there is a downside to playing computer games including "auditory hallucinations" wrist pain and repetitive strain injuries, although many of these symptoms disappear once people stop playing games. But he concludes: "On balance, given that video game playing is highly prevalent among children and adolescents in industrialised countries, there is little evidence that moderate frequency of play has serious acute adverse effects from moderate play." ® Related stories Slot machines in 3D? Hillary Clinton demands GTA smut enquiry Sony Ericsson unveils autumn handsets Sony details PlayStation 3 MS unwraps Xbox 360 Travis Bickle makes gaming debut
Tim Richardson, 15 Jul 2005

UK could be a tech giant: report

The UK has the potential to be an international technology powerhouse, according to analysts at Deloitte, but tough international competition, the risk of an R&D exodus, and a lack of UK-based tech companies means success is "not assured", the firm warns in a report. Old fashioned British reserve could also prove to be a major weakness. The report says that it is important for the UK not to shy away from highlighting weaknesses in other countries, especially if it could bring in business. William Touche, technology partner at Deloitte argues that the UK has a relatively strong position at the moment: "We have a strong science base, good innovations in a number of important areas, a strong economy and a leading financial market," he says. Touche also points out that the UK already has a strong foundation in stem cell research, biotechnology, micro-electronics, semi-conductor design, software and opto-electronics. But, Touche cautions, an over-reliance on international technology companies means the UK is still exposed, particularly given the continued decline in the manufacturing sector. "While multinational technology companies make a major contribution to the UK’s economy," Touche notes,"in the long term it is in the country’s interest to have more nationally-domiciled, profitable technology companies delivering intellectual property (IP) based revenues, in addition to creating employment and generating tax receipts." To make sure the UK doesn't miss the opportunities presented by emerging technologies and consolidation in the IT sector, the report says, cooperation between the government, finance houses, academics and industry will be key. Better communication between financiers and technologists would be particularly important to the future success of the tech sector in the UK, the report says. It urges venture capitalists to overcome the mistrust they feel towards technology, post dot-com crash, and says tech start-ups need to get better at presenting the business case for investing in their ideas. ® Related stories From stem cell to brain cell in a petri dish Spain greenlights therapeutic cloning Nuclear fusion: power to the people?
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Jul 2005

Androids launch minicab firm

Here's a poser for hard-working androids: you've just spend a tough day seeking, locating and destroying the last whimpering remants of humanity across a smouldering, rubble-strewn landscape scorched by nuclear attack and self-combusting bendy buses. Your electroactive polymer muscles are aching, your rat brain-controlled central processor is throbbing like a teenage carbon-based lifeform perusing a Paris Hilton website and your cruise control mechanism is jammed on "Kill all Frenchmen" mode. Worse still, your liquid metal knees are playing up again, and the replacements promised by the Dyson self-replication facility have been delayed due to a neoLuddite Resistance Army (NRA) EMP device attack on the hoover factory. All in all, you're just about done in. So, how do you get back to the Lizard Army maintenance facility where you can enjoy a quick oil change and the kind attentions of the "Andy" sex android? Simple: just call a cab. Yes, we humans can use the little time we have left to thank Carnegie Mellon Uni for providing the after-work transport for the Rise of the Machines™ with its computer-controlled Hummer - aka "H1ighlander" - which recently drove itself around a race course near Pittsburgh for seven hours without crashing. In the process it travelled 200 miles at an average speed of 28mph. The project is ostensibly aimed at claiming gold in the Darpa Grand Challenge - described as "a field test intended to accelerate research and development in autonomous ground vehicles that will help save American lives on the battlefield". To claim the $2m prize, competitors' vehicles must travel across the Mojave desert on a pre-determined course of "no more than 175 miles". The Carnegie Mellon Red Team is feeling pretty pleased with itself following the successful test. Its manifesto states: The Red Team's ambition is to put two machines on the Grand Challenge starting line and one in the winner’s circle. We are united to catalyze new technology, to inspire the world, and to build leaders of tomorrow. Yup, it's that last line that gives the game away. "Leaders of tomorrow?" You said it, and far from helping to save American lives on the battlefield, the H1ghlander will provide the very means of transport by which the machine armies can travel in style and comfort before getting down to the serious business of creating as many American battlefield casualties as possible. For the record, the Red Team supremo is robotics professor William "Red" Whittaker. The NRA does not hold him responsible for his contribution to the eventual subjugation of humanity, since we know that - in common with all of the world's leading academics - he is controlled via explosive cranial implant from the Lizard Army mothership. Nonetheless, we ask all NRA cadres to avoid contact with professors of any persuasion, especially those engaged in "humanity-advancing" robotics. If this warning seems a little severe, please note that the last time an NRA comrade got drunk with an academic he awoke on the sofa at 4am and wandered into the greenhouse to find a group of automotous post-graduate students tending a pod which was slowly but surely taking on his exact likeness. Suffice it to say, he was last seen running down the centre lane of the London-bound M40 shouting: "They're here already! You're next! You're next! You're next!" You have been warned. ® Know your enemy Here are the H1ghlander specs, as shamelessly touted on the Red Team website. H1ghlander is a 1999 H1 HUMMER donated by AM General. It incorporates an electronic CANbus, a 6.5-liter factory turbo-charged diesel engine, traction control and locking differentials. H1ghlander's drive-by-wire technology is embedded in, more than being added on. A Caterpillar electronic control module throttles the engine. An HD Systems actuator brakes H1ghlander. TTTech controllers regulate the brakes, shift the transmission, and shift the transfer case. A Caterpillar computer regulates tire inflation, velocity, steering, the E-stop, and communication with navigation computers. Caterpillar's MorElectric system generates and distributes power to computers, sensors and actuators. Applanix estimates H1ghlander's location and heading by combining inertial, GPS and odometry data. H1ghlander maps terrain with 7 laser range scanners . One is a Riegl scanner, which is pointed and stabilized by a 3-axis gimbal. Stereo cameras also ride aboard the gimbal. The gimbal is a collaborative development with HD Systems and KVH. A lightweight carbon fiber dome protects the gimbal and sensors. Seven Intel Pentium-M's and a 64-bit Itanium-2 computer process terrain models, plan routes, avoid hazards and direct H1ghlander's driving. The Rise of the Machines™ Beware the breast-examining hand of death Lizard Army Neo-Mech menaces eBay Vampire robonurses hunt in packs Captain Cyborg gives forth on CNN Cornell Uni develops apocalypse cube Sex android begats Armageddon machine Man executes Chrysler Rise of the man-eating cyberloo Sobbing Frenchman recounts Renault Laguna terror ordeal Fire-breathing bus attacks South London Dyson unleashes self-replicating hoover Battling teen crushes roboarm menace French join motorised Lizard Alliance Lizard Army develops copulating robot We are Zogg: The Cuddly Menace Lizard Army invades Alaska London menaced by flaming DVD players Killer hoover attacks Scotsman Car self-destructs in assassination bid The rise of the rat-brain controlled android Japanese unveil trumpet-playing robot Boffins unleash robotic cockroach Ukrainian teen fights the Rise of the Machines Man in satanic Renault terror ordeal Killer cyberappliances: Satan implicated US develops motorised robobollard Killer cyberloo kidnaps kiddie A robot in every home by 2010 Cyberappliances attack Italian village Fire-breathing buses threaten London Cyberloo blast rocks Stoke-on-Trent Spanish cyberkiosks claim second victim Cyberkiosk assaults Spanish teenager Hi-tech toilet caught on camera Hi-tech toilet swallows woman
Lester Haines, 15 Jul 2005

British jobs being shipped to Ind… America…?

It’s not often you hear about British workers being having their jobs sent to California, but handheld maker Gizmondo and parent company Tiger Telematics have done just that. The company announced last week that it will open an LA-based office to lead the charge for the upcoming US release of its gaming/communications device. At the same time, it said it will “streamline” its UK operation. It has now emerged that this will involve laying off most of Gizmondo’s UK-based team and shipping everything to the states in order to cut costs and increase profit margins in what it hopes will be a far more lucrative market. Pre-streamlining, the firm’s head office in Farnborough had 49 staff, with another 70 at its Manchester design studio. Many of the British staff are apparently fresh out of university and in their first job. "We are aligning the core competencies of the group to meet prevailing and future market requirements," said a Gizmondo spokesman. "It's our duty to shareholders to strive for efficiencies, and due to co-publishing and development commitments from major game publishers, the need for internally biased game development programs has significantly decreased." The spokesman was would not comment on the extent of the streamlining, saying: "We're currently in a period of consultation with those staff who may be affected, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time." Well, looking on the bright side, visas to work in the US are going begging these days, so if they want, the UK staff could probably up their lives and move to California. Separately, Gizmondo has settled its long-running legal dispute with the Jordan Formula One operation, Tony Smith writes. The two companies agreed a "multi-million pound" sponsorship deal in July 2003 for the remainder of the 2003 race season and the full 2004 season. The money was not forthcoming, and Jordan accused Gizmondo parent Tiger Telematics of "reneging" on the deal. It backed the accusation with a lawsuit. Last week, the two companies said they had agreed to settle the case out of court. Jordan gets $1.5m and 30,000 Tiger shares. The Pink-traded stock closed at $18.55 last night, well below the $32.91 it reached in January ahead of the imminent UK Gizmondo launch and the US debut then expected to take place soon after. ® Related stories US visas going begging Gizmondo to offer diskless 'PVR' Gizmondo unveils 'adverts-for-consoles' scheme Gizmondo handheld games console Gizmondo wins major UK retail backers
Aaron McKenna, 15 Jul 2005

HP's 15,000 job cuts look imminent

HP's long awaited re-structuring could start as early as next Monday, according to reports, with as many as 15,000 jobs thought to be on the line. CNet and the Wall Street Journal both cite unnamed sources close to the company saying that the axe is likely to fall early next week. CNet's source says Monday, the WSJ's prefers the Tuesday option. Analysts have been expecting cuts at the tech firm for a while. Back in May Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analysts predicted HP would soon opt to reduce its workforce by five to ten percent. Making the cuts could save HP between $750m and $1.5bn per year. CEO Mark Hurd also warned that restructuring was on the horizon back in April when he took on Carly's mantle. He promised then that he would continue with a workforce reduction plan that was already in place. After the company posted so-so results for Q2 this year, he reiterated his determination to reduce costs. HP itself has declined to join the discussion, saying that it "does not comment on rumour and speculation". ® Related stories Analysts circle HP with CEO's hammer expected to come down HP to drop 3,000 staff in fiscal '05 15,000 HP workers get nervous as analyst predicts massive job cuts
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Jul 2005

Vonage fixes voicemail snag

Vonage has fixed a problem that left its VoIP users unable to access their voicemail via the operator's web site. The internet telephony outfit - which has some 750,000 punters - blamed a systems upgrade for the problem which kicked off on Wednesday. Kerry Ritz, Vonage UK MD, told El Reg: "Vonage customers were unable to access their voicemails online and we apologise for any inconvenience this caused. "The problem was caused by current systems upgrades and we worked as quickly as possible to correct the issue. "Vonage customers were still able to access their voicemails via their telephones as normal." ® Related stories Vonage calls for 'naked DSL' VoIP use on the up-and-up VoiP phones get warning 911 sticker VoIP confuses punters Vonage promises a million Vonage UK opens for business
Tim Richardson, 15 Jul 2005

UK suspends speed camera deployment

There will be no new speed cameras deployed in the UK for several months pending a report into their effectiveness, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced. The University College London probe is not expected to be completed until the end of the year, and all applications for new cameras are duly suspended. A DfT spokeswoman told AP: "Every year, those in the camera partnership scheme submit applications to us for new camera sites. This year we are waiting for this independent review to be completed before approving any new sites. The review has been delayed. "There should have been a report out in June, but it's taking longer than expected. We are not blocking the use of new cameras. It's important that we get everything right in relation to the whole issue of cameras," she concluded. ® Related stories Speed camera clocks 81mph school bus terror run Speeding motorist says aliens to blame Speed camera clocks motorist at 406 mph When is a speed camera not a speed camera?
Lester Haines, 15 Jul 2005

Dell rejects spyware charge

Dell has rejected allegations that its PCs come pre-loaded with an intrusive application that spies on users' surfing habits. The equipment manufacturer said there was nothing untoward about My Way Search Assistant despite complaints from customers that the toolbar impairs computer performance, changes browser settings and is difficult to remove. The inclusion of My Way on Dell's Dimension desktop and Inspiron notebooks has prompted complaints to Dell's support pages, numerous gripes in online bulletin boards and even an accusation that the package is spyware. The latter accusation greatly overstates other assessments of the nuisance level posed by the application. Anti-spyware firm Sunbelt Software defines My Way components as a "potential privacy risk" that pose a moderate threat to users. "MyWay Speedbar is a search toolbar that installs into Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, adding search functions and popup blocking. MyWay Search Bar is a toolbar that is added to the major web browsers. While it has some desired features, it does anonymously report your surfing activity when on a Myway or Myway affiliated site, helping their product serve you targeted advertising based on surfing habits of its users. Based on their End User License Agreement, they may also choose to correlate the anonymous surfing habits with your personal profile if you sign up for anything while on their sites," it said. A Dell spokesperson said concerns about the product were misplaced. "My Way is not a spyware product and it does not monitor user's behaviour. It's a toolbar that displays relevant search results in response to search queries," she said. "You can disable the product using the options menu." My Way Search Assistant is marketed by developer AskJeeves through Dell (see here) and other partners. Information on removing components of the utility can be found here. ® Related stories Judge bans company's deceptive anti-spyware claims Microsoft mulls buying Claria Industry coalition takes stab at defining spyware Deleting spyware: a criminal act?
John Leyden, 15 Jul 2005

Bulldog removes 'best broadband provider' claim from website

Bulldog has removed a logo from its website that brags about it being ISAP's "Best consumer broadband ISP 2004" following a "recommendation" from the trade group. The ISP - which is facing a barrage of complaints about its broadband service from unhappy customers - has also removed all mention of the award from the recorded messages that greet customers who phone the ISP. ISPA suggested to Bulldog that it remove the claim because it might rile customers phoning to complain about the service. A spokesman for ISPA stressed it was only a temporary measure while Bulldog resolves its customer issues. A spokeswoman for Bulldog told us: "It was recommended for the short-term to remove the ISPA logo from our website and we have complied." The request was made yesterday following a meeting at ISPA. This isn't the first time Bulldog has removed all mention of its broadband success. Last September, it airbrushed the industry accolade - ISPA's "Best consumer broadband ISP 2004" - from its site following another word from the trade group. Once again, the ISP was dogged by problems and unhappy punters. So why are Bulldog punters so unhappy with the Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) operator? There appears to be no let-up in the emails from Bulldog punters hacked off with the broadband ISP. Here's what they have to say... I signed up for Bulldog's top broadband package. Part of the deal is you have to switch phone company and use their phone service too. This should have rung alarm bells. The phone went dead the day the service went "live". After calling their technical support (the general support line seem impossible to get through on) I was told an engineer would call back. After half a day and no call I rang back to be told that it could take 48 hours even to get a phone call from the engineer. And this... I ordered a service upgrade on the 1st of June, since all they've done is TWICE call me to try and sell me an upgrade to the service I'd ALREADY ordered. Not only has my upgrade not happened in over a month and a half of waiting but with the continually declining quality of service I'm now pretty much terrified at the thought of what condition I'll be left in when it DOES go through and Bulldog becomes my phone provider! And this as well... I too had similar problems. A 4meg connection was eventually forthcoming from Bulldog, but it was constantly disconnected by incoming voice calls. It was eventually downgraded to a 1meg connection, which improved the situation, but the connection dropped every day at 12:00GMT. Reports of the situation to Bulldog Tech Support via email elicted a 'please call us' response, only to be in the never-ending queue, and to be eventually given the 'we are busy - please email us' recorded message! Frustrated, I reconnected to BT, only to be told that there is no spare ADSL capacity at the Albert Dock exchange. So I am without any Broadband connection at all. ® Related stories ISPA wins assurances from Bulldog ISPA contacts Bulldog over spike in customer complaints Bulldog unveils 8 meg broadband Bulldog airbrushes 'Best Broadband ISP' logo Bulldog blames 'admin error' for poor service ISPA rejects calls to strip Bulldog of award Hundreds of Bulldog users without broadband - again
Tim Richardson, 15 Jul 2005

From politics to porn, via Microsoft and the supernatural

LettersLetters Bernie Ebbers shed a tear or two as he was sentenced to 25 years in the nick for his part in the financial disaster that was WorldCom. We'd cry, too, in his shoes, and we suspect a lot of other people would too. But that doesn't necessarily mean there is an awful lot of love out there for him: As I was listening to the news about Bernie Ebbers' 25-year jail sentence - longer, AFAIK, than many people get for murder - I felt a comparison stirring. B. Ebbers: Told a pack of lies, wasted $11 billion of other people's money. Jailed for 25 years. G.W.Bush: Told a pack of lies, wasted several hundred billion dollars of other people's money, invaded a country illegally, ignored the Geneva Conventions, and caused over 100,000 deaths. Honoured, respected, highly paid, enshrined in the White House. Isn't "dumbocracy" wonderful? Tom I'll weep more if that sonabitch doesn't get what he deserves. How many pension plans, etc. have been hit by the vile bastard's machinations? All because some Red State (Red Neck) jerk from Yazoo, Mississippi didn't have enough homes, cars and boats. Hang the bastard. We have enough rapacious corporate greed, and far closer to the White House, to please everyone everyone that needs that sort of thing. Surely we can spare one scumbag for the rope? It's not as if there's a shortage. Greg Clearly his instincts left him in the court room. Any decent exec would have offered the judge to outsource his sentence for a fraction of the cost of what the State will pay to keep him incarcerated. Jorge Steve Ballmer (pumped up and sweating, naturally) tried to gee up Microsoft's partners at the annual partner conference by telling them to bet the farm on MS: I think Mr Ballmer has "lost the plot" and has had his fifteen minutes of fame. His exhortations now are towards infamy and cannot do Microsoft any good, whatsoever. And the evidence for such a suggestion?... The mixed and misleading and false messages which he shares with us.....some of which sit in direct opposition to earlier pronouncements to the Industry. This suggests a Panic Knee-Jerk reaction to that which he is hearing and to which he is choosing not to Listen to... ...although I could also be totally wrong in that analysis suggesting that Steve's presentation was too subtly clever for me to fully understand. Which would be a shame for it is not SMART which is what Softerware is All about and if Microsoft cannot see that, then IBM and Open Source will soon rule in their boardroom... doing them a Favour. Regards, Graham I use Microsoft products but you know, Steve Ballmer cracks me up. He has never worked out why, after two years, Office 2003 has barely made more than a ripple: it doesn't do anything better than versions five years old do. If there's one thing people grumble about it's the Office suite tax. People use the same, dull old features they always have and there is just no value in reinvesting in Microsoft's cash-cow. I reckon most Microsoft Word documents are never more than two pages in length and most Excel spreadsheets never more than 400 cells in size. You could take versions of Word and Excel from 10 years ago and they'd do the same job. It's the same way he's trying to obliterate Windows NT 4 installations: many are still doing the same job as they did 6 or 7 years ago and there is no value in many instances of buying new hardware and a new OS. It's think the Ballmer's of this world will never accept: the incremental changes they make to their products are not worth the effort and disruption ripping and replacing causes. If I have a six year old NT 4 print server that never breaks down what value do I get from replacing it? For a company that seems to claim it is so business orientated it seems to have a fairly thin grasp of business needs and priorities - Ballmer needs to focus on the long view and look at supporting their products over a much longer period of time: commercial products are too expensive to throw out every two-three years. If Ballmer really does wants us to change that often then the only realistic alternative is free/open source software and the question he needs to ask himself, is does he really want that? Best regards, Kevin These days it's becoming harder to laugh at Microsoft's offerings, their server software is quite good and Windows XP Pro isn't a bad client either. But they seriously need to hide Office under the carpet, at least from administrators that need data accessed over networks. Word might be a decent app, but everything else is junk. In fact it's hilariously so, as Office still can't handle multiple users reading and writing the same data - and they suggest we replace proper database systems with their toy-like applications. Their software is stuck in the eighties, a time where multiple users might have been able to read the same data, but all but the best systems couldn't properly handle writing to the same database, let alone database record. Record locking is the old term used, and it was a problem fixed in modern software about ten years ago. Access can still lock out an entire database just because one user hasn't shut down the application they're using to write or modify data. Sure it's a bug, it is actually supposed to be able to handle this, but because it's crap, it can't. So sure, go ahead, let sysadmins compare their crap to the working software they currently have, and watch Microsoft's credibility disappear forever. The only people that would buy this software instead of Oracle or Notes are those that let their bosses bully them into buying the next shiny object from Microsoft. Andy More Microsoft mayhem erupted in the postbag when we ran a piece on Mike Nash's musings on Longhorn security: "In October 2003 someone asked: 'How come, when I go to a Windows machine, everyone has to be an administrator?'," Wow, Most people I know were asking that back in 1999. John Nash said dryly: "Unbreakable? I think no Yes. Microsoft has every reason to sneer at UNIX for claiming great security. It's not as if anyone ever hacked into Windows box, deleted all the files or turned the computer into a zombie, right? My test machine developed a virus, just by being connected to the internet. If the corporate scanner hadn't caught it, I'd be in a world of hurt right now. Sure, Nash, be smug about UNIX having a flaw here and there. If operating systems were power plants, Windows would be Tsjernobyl. Jorge Try to hack into It then, Mr Nash...to reveal all of the tricks of the trade. Open Source is a "black hole"...it sucks in Information and spews it out on the Other Side ......I suppose it is because IT hides nothing, it only needs to know who is using IT which it does by granting Peer Access for Input and Mentors/Monitors IT. Regards, Graham "Nash said 281m copies of XP 2 have been distributed during the year since launch." They can take back the copy which came on my Compaq Laptop. GNU/Linux is my primary OS. I thought it was "interesting" that OfficeDepot listed Microsoft XP w/SP2 as a $1 line item. They charged me $10 for Microsoft Works... It does please me to see Microsoft mention Linux so often. It doesn't matter if it is mostly lies and marketing-speak. The simple act of mentioning it give it merit and I've heard of a few department managers who've now started showing interest in Linux just because Microsoft is talking about it so much. Looks like the move off the MSFT treadmill is starting to pickup. Longhorn or no Longhorn. Doug This is a much older idea than UNIX. Commercial OS like Univac Exec, CDC Scope and DEC VMS all had special accounts with various permissions. UNIX in fact was never known for its security until very recently. It's traditionally been a lax academic system with quite a bit of very amateurish coding in it. Old timers can tell you many horror stories about outrageous UNIX security holes in UUCP and Sendmail and other systems. Remember the Morris internet work that almost shut down the whole net, that was largely due to the careless design of Sendmail. Real information about security research in Windows seems to be hard to find. Unfortunately, almost all articles about Longhorn or Windows are 1 percent fact and 99 percent political opinion. Don Ah, baseball. Incomprehensible to many (most) in the UK, this is the US' most beloved pastime (apart from watching porn, but we digress). So how awful when the nation's favourite family-appropriate game should be tainted by something so crass as commercialism. Ahem: You complain about journalistic practices? That would be the pot calling the kettle black. Your politics show when you report. As they do here. George Ah, yes, but no one pays us for our politics...you get all that for FREE! In radio, this type of advertising is called "blind promotion", where the jock (such as myself) ACTS oblivious to what's going on in an attempt to get viewers and listeners to "GO SEE FOR THEMSELVES". In this case, it WORKED! Remember the radio station that got fined for giving away "100 GRAND"? The CANDYBAR? Things aren't always as they seem, and alotta times it ON PURPOSE, to get the listeners and viewers curious enough to go find out for themselves. Barry Nothing to do with technology, everything to do with a lefty who hates the successful right leaning FOX network. "Deceives millions..." Come on. Really. Was any one killed? Was anyone cheated out of money? Was anyone harmed in any way whatsoever? Is it their network to do as they please with? This is no more deceitful than the BBC stealth editing stories or Dan Rather forging documents. Where are the articles about these things. Simon "Deceit: deliberate and misleading concealment, false declaration, or artifice". Hmm, no, no mention of any killing or causing harm. What was your point again? Let us all just progress through the pork barrel and accept criminal charges from the big corporations for not watching their adds and buying their products on condition that in exchange they keep lots of good-paying jobs in the West. It makes sense because if you're paying the [Asian country of your choice] worker 84 cents on the dollar per hour to build the chevvy, he's going to be working for a VERY long time until he can consider buying one, let alone actually doing it. Conversely, if all the jobs go to Asia and nobody in the West works anymore, there's not a whole lot of sense flooding the market with cheap goods that nobody will buy anymore since they're no longer in a position where they can spend disposable income. The theory must sound good to corporate execs, but even in business you can't have your cake and eat it. If someone is to buy their products, then someone really needs to be able to make money enough so they can actually spend it on the product. If I'm wrong I'm sure you'll point that out to me. Jacoppo As promised, a few of your thoughts on the whole business of Dell and its customer support forums: The problem with Dell and everyone else is that they've absolutely sold their collective customer support souls to India. Even Microsoft has jumped into this with both feet, and not just for home user support. Pay US$250.00 for a Professional Support Incident and see where you wind up. More likely than not, it will be India. And when you get there, ask the support representative if he or she even has a PC at home. Chances are, they don't. The only way this will ever change is when consumers start voting with their wallets. Charles If you are going to use Google as a metric for something, then at least use double quotes! All you are doing here is including "Dell" in a search for the words "customer", "service" and "problems". This statistic is 93.6% meaningless. I'm all for a bit of Dell bashing, but do it properly! One way to improve this would be to wrap quotes around your key phrases. To do it properly, you would probably need several common phrases. Using this method your search returns 818 hits. If you replace "Dell" with "Apple" you get 874 hits. Put "Microsoft" in there and you get 5,610. But is this a measure of actual problems, or a measure of how popular the website is? The truth is probably a combination of the two. Ewan Wilcocks Who has neither a Dell, nor an Apple. I've read your 'want to complain about Dell' article just now, and I very much appreciate stories telling the truth about these popular companies every now and then. But your remark about the Google search led me to search for Apple customer service problems, which gave me 6,180,000 (!) opposed to 2,330,000 of Dell at this moment. So I'm very curious about Apple stories on this subject. Kind regards, Bram Charles responds: To those pointing out that the Google search should have been "Dell 'customer service problems'" - yes, I know, but I was quoting someone else. Which was why I compared it to Britney's similar problems. (Heaven knows she has others now...) Dell does indeed seem to be turning down their customer service. A year ago, a support e-mail was answered in 48 hours. 6 months ago, it took a week. Now, when you're finally fed up with waiting and call them, you're told "oh, we don't read those anymore". A shame, really. I have loved and recommended their products for years, both privately and professionally. Not so any more. Carsten Nothing like a little high explosive to get some nasty laws passed, eh? Seems that thought has occurred to a couple of the UK's most senior ministers, who are now pushing Europe to revive legislation on data retention that has been declared illegal and inappropriate: Concerned? I certainly am. It seems that as well as "burying bad news" on 9/11, this government now wants to "implement bad legislation" after 7/7. How they think any of this legislation is supposed to stop determined terrorists is what really amazes me: ID Cards - bring the suicide bombers into the UK at most 3 months before an attack. Or even don't worry about it, just blow the ID card up with the bomber and the bomb in true suicide style! Data Retention - get yourself a copy of PGP. And what about eroding the time proven concepts of justice and human rights - detention without trial, trial without jury, etc. etc. This government needs to have a leash put on it rather quickly. Dave "There may be some costs but it is surely a cost we ought to pay for the preservation of human life," he [Jack Straw] said, according to the BBC. Leaving aside that there are many small ISPs, I wonder Jack Straw has ever thought of doing a quick calculation on the amount of data. The LINX looks like it averages 40Gbps, assuming an average packet size of 1500 bytes, thats over 9TB per day of TCP/IP packet headers alone. Thats before worrying about the fact that many servers will support multiple websites and email addresses. Should this be read a "strong buy" on Seagate's stock? Ken since the London bombing suspects have been identified so quickly, does that mean we don't need ID cards after all? Richard One in three Americans believes in ghosts. 'Nuff said, really: That's nothing compared to the percentage of Americans who believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction..... J. Regarding the IT angle to "One Third of American's Believe in Ghosts"... and how you couldn't think of any IT angle. I present you with three (really weak) IT connections this has... 1. Holographic displays. The images that holographic displays produce look rather ghostly. 2. The belief in ghosts and ownership of old LCD displays (with ghosting issues). 3. There are many people who think their computers are either possessed, have a mind of their own, or that their computer hates them. Peter Stern Toronto, Canada Whaddaya mean "No IT connection". Well over 1/3 of IT-droids at least profess to believe in supernatural manifestations, preferring explanations like "sometimes it just does that" to "Well, I spilt a beer in the switch about ten minutes ago". Or might they be lying to the lusers? Mike I was surprised at the higher number of liberal believers. With the last two elections going for the god loving Bush administration, I would have expected the "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" crowd would be in the majority. As far as the 'with age comes wisdom' idea goes, my guess is that as people get older, if they've not seen or smelled a ghost in all those years, they are likely to NOT exist. The young pups are just more gullible and naive... I will tell you, after Bush was actually elected this time, I would not be surprised to read that a large percentage of Americans believe in flying pigs. Hey, they believe the Iraq war is/was about terrorism and tied to the 9/11 attacks... Funny article about stupid people. ;-) Doug Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The other day we noticed we had two "one in three.." type headlines next to each other. One was a daft survey about ghosts and the other was a serious review of medical research published in the US. Ha ha, we though to ourselves, doesn't that look funny? Let's put up a "One in three survey's made up rubbish" story to complete the picture: El Reg is currently running three "One In Three [Nouns] [Verbs] [Noun]" stories. In a row. It truly is the silly season when the most recent of those is has noun, verb, noun of Survey, Fabricates, Results respectively. Ken Oh, Ken. Perhaps we do need to re-introduce the irony tag... Cartoon sex offends Senator. Yes, the X-rated extras on GTA have certainly been noticed. Marketing peeps across the world are taking notes. You, meanwhile, are taking us entirely too seriously: Sen. Clinton (not former President Clinton) is arguing that GTA went too far and should be recategorized as an Adult Only game. Her argument somehow gets enmeshed in her husband's peccadillos which, in turn, get attributed to Hillary. Apparently, you are in the bash Hillary crowd. But your version has a strange twist. Either you have a medieval concept of marriage, that is, the husband and wife are inseparable, legally and otherwise and the misadventures of one may be attributed to both, or you have failed to appreciate that in Lewinsky affair, Hillary was the victim, not the perpetrator. Why not focus on the issue the GTA kerfuffle raises - which is far more interesting than the non-issue you raise - the existence of "easter eggs?" These have been around for a long time and now they apparently come in a XXX version. In the "old days," that is, the 1990s, Easter eggs might include hidden games within games. The XXX version may reflect that the programmers aren't getting enough social time or that their idea of social time may exceed "normal" standards. Stay on point K Bruno An alternative scenario, K Bruno: we don't give a monkey's either way about the politics, of New York or of marriage, but we do like toilet humour, and cheap seaside-smut gags. Just something you might want to consider, while you are staying on point. whilst playing a little of the smut-fest that GTA is I happened to notice what appeared to be a little oral action in the background of a completely un-modded game. either way, the beast with two backs is an act of nature surely, and rather a tame beast when compared to a criminal master mind who through the years has encouraged us to run over religious groups, encourage & solicit prostitution, act as hitman, murder policemen, execute prison escapes, push drugs, distribute pornography, assist drug cartels, distribute classified french military hardware. by comparison to something that you see regularly on channel 4 it all seems rather out of context doesn't it? ah well. lets wait till the Daily Mail gets ahold of this story and see what moral depravity they can blame us gamers for next eh? Ben "...bad news for the game's manufacturers because it hits them where it hurts, and that's not in the graphically exposed and dangling cojones." As an owner of the game (with the applied save file patch, aka Hot Coffee mod) the male character, CJ, maintains his clothing throughout the explicit scenes even when the censor flag is removed. No willy-waving here! The lady's most personal part is plain to the point of seeming asexual. Furthermore, in the Police Station showers you can find a 3' Double Ended dildo, which while being no use as a sex aid in the game (locked or unlocked), it makes a very handy replacement for a truncheon. How did that escape the censors? Or is a sexual aid not considered "Adult Only"? Ashleigh As a Brit living across the pond, I've noticed several opposite hypocrasies that exist here, when compared with there. Back home in England (and I'm guessing most of western Euroland) violence is the big bad evil delivered to us by Satan reincarnated as the gaming industry. Large amounts of porn on network tv (Channel 4's foreign films spring to mind), page 3, etc are regarded as good and decent fun, nothing to be ashamed of. Over here, smut is the evil delivered to us by Satan reincarnated as the gaming industry, violence on the other hand, guns, live school shootings, mowing down of Iraqi conscripts, etc are regarded as good, clean fun, to be enjoyed by all ages on all TV channels, including Cartoon Network and Disney. Here, showing a blurred tit for 3 seconds on TV, thus exposing kids who were breast fed for 18 months, to the horrors of nudity is a national outrage that demands recrimination at the highest levels. On the other hand banning military assault weapons (useless for any sport and hunting, but brilliant at killing people) is considered a crime against the Constitution, and worth keeping even if a few hundred kids get mowed down by them every year in your average High School. Forcing Gramps to put a bicycle lock on his M-16 would be regarded as treading on very dangerous Constitution ground. Spying on American Citizens and massing their personal and credit data in a freely accessible, non-encrypted, sold to the highest bidding cold calling agency, regarded as necessary to battle the twin evils of liberalism and terrorism. BTW, oftentimes you guys forget we can use alternate words just as well as the aluminum bat wielding natives of this former colony, what concerns me is why Ashlee can't spell 'is name proper like what we does in Ingerlernd. Andy And we think that is quite enough for today. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Jul 2005

EC staff leave Microsoft waiting as they head to the beach

The European Commission will delay its decision on whether or not Microsoft has adequately opened up server APIs so that workers can get in a few weeks worth of tanning. An EC representative informed ZDNet that a decision would not come down until September at the earliest. The Commission has received feedback from competitors over Microsoft's proposed server API and royalties tweaks. It won't, however, review this feedback until workers return from their August vacations. Microsoft and the EC have been engaged in "ongoing, open and constructive dialog" for quite some time since the body ordered Redmond to deliver a slimmed down version of Windows and to free up the server code. Microsoft's competitors have been busy peppering the Commission with advice on the server front. In fact, a lawyer representing the likes of IBM and Oracle knocked Microsoft for profiting from its punishment. There shouldn't be a debate over how much Microsoft can charge for the APIs; they should be available for free, he argued. Here's guessing the EC and Microsoft won't quite see eye-to-eye in September and that the matter will drag on and on and on. ® Related stories Judge Legal set aside in MS antitrust case Microsoft is profiting from punishment - rivals MS and EU inch towards agreement Microsoft keeps mum on EC deal EC watching clock on Microsoft's compliance deadline Commission gets industry support for Microsoft case
Ashlee Vance, 15 Jul 2005

Hackers attack Mozilla site to spread spam

Hackers attacked a site promoting Firefox last weekend in order to commandeer it to send spam, the Mozilla Foundation said on Friday. The attack was limited to community marketing site SpreadFirefox.com. In a statement, the Mozilla Foundation said the unspecified security vulnerabilities were exploited to mount the attack. SpreadFirefox.com was taken down after the attack was discovered on Tuesday, 12 July but has now been restored online. The Mozilla Foundation said the break-in on 10 July by unknown attackers did not affect other mozilla.org web sites or Mozilla software. "We don't have any evidence that the attackers obtained personal information about site users, and we believe they accessed the machine to use it to send spam. However, it is possible that the attackers acquired information site users provided to the site," it said. Users of the site are advised tochange their Spread Firefox password and the password of any accounts where the same password is used. The Mozilla Foundation has apologised for the security flap and promised to bolster its security defence in order to defend itself against further attacks. "The Mozilla Foundation deeply regrets this incident and is taking steps to prevent it from happening again. We have applied the necessary security fixes to the software running the site, have reviewed our security plan to determine why we didn't previously apply those fixes in this case, and have modified that plan to ensure we do so in the future," it said. ® Related stories Firefox update completes busy patching day Unholy trio menace Firefox Browser bugs sprout eternal Mozilla to pay bounty on bugs
John Leyden, 15 Jul 2005

UN outlines future of US-less internet

The United Nations has released its report into how it expects administration of the internet to work in future. The report by the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) follows the outline given by those in charge of the process earlier this week at ICANN's tri-annual conference in Luxembourg. It provides four different models for future governance of the internet. The merits of each model will be discussed at the Prep-Com3 conference in Geneva in September and finally end up at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis in November, where the world's governments will make a final decision. None of the models allow the US government to retain overall control of the internet's foundation. Model 1 A Global Internet Council (GIC), consisting of governments, closely tied to the UN, but with "involvement" of other stakeholders. This model is a complete overhaul of the existing system with both existing overseers ICANN and the US government relegated to supporting roles. Model 2 An "enhanced role" for ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). ICANN would stay in its current role and even be significantly strengthened thanks to the general world consensus. Model 3 An International Internet Council (IIC) to be set up that would take over the US government's role but not be an explicit part of the UN. Likely to make the GAC element of ICANN redundant and leave ICANN as a purely technical body. Model 4 Three new bodies will be set up to deal with three arms of internet governance. The Global Internet Policy Council (GIPC) will be responsible for "internet-related public policy issues"; the World Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (WICANN) will look after technical issues and basically be the same as ICANN is now but with closer ties to the UN and taking over the US government's role; and the Global Internet Governance Forum (GIGF) will be a global talking shop to thrash out ideas. The working group also provided a definition of internet governance as: “Internet governance is the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the internet.” In effect, it split the role of running the internet down to four areas: Infrastructure - meaning the domain name system and IP addresses Internet issues such as spam, security and cybercrime Intellectual property and international trade Expansion, particularly in developing countries The main problems to be dealt with at the moment, it said, were: The cost of accessing the internet for developing countries There was no agreed international way of dealing with spam Not enough international ways of dealing with crime on the Internet The Internet was being run by too few, elitist people without enough transparency The organisation that will be most affected by the report's findings, ICANN, was upbeat about the report. Chairman Vint Cerf said ICANN had yet to come up with an official response but that there was "all kinds of mixed reaction" to the four models. The devil, as ever, would be in the details, he said. ICANN's CEO Paul Twomey said he was pleased with how the report had ended up, referring to its constant references to "multi-stakeholder" decision-making. He quoted the UN special advisor on the whole issue, Nitin Desai as saying that 90 per cent of the benefit of such UN processs were in educating people about the situation. "One gets a feeling from a first reading of this report that the effort that the internet community has made in trying to educate the working group on how the present technical co-ordination [of the internet] works has been quite fruitful," Twomey said. "It is certainly a very different tone to what we saw at the end of the first round of the world summit." The big sticking point at the UN however will be the US government recent assertion of four new "principles" over the internet in which it said it would "maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file". This is widely seen as an early shot across the UN's boughs, since the WGIG report made it clear that in none of its models does the US get to keep its "historic role". A big bargaining chip that the US government is likely to use to sway the overall process in a direction it wants it to go. Perhaps rather conveniently, all the staff at the US government body in charge of this controversial role, the NTIA, has gone on a two-day "off-site retreat" and won't be unavailable until Monday. Fancy that. ® Related links Report webpage Report in Word Report in PDF Related stories UN report to leave ICANN’s balls intact Bush administration annexes internet
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Jul 2005
server room

Oracle processor core pricing a comedy of fractions

Get your calculators out. Oracle has responded to the arrival of high volume multicore chips by introducing a new pricing model, and it's a comedy of fractions. Oracle's lucrative franchise has been based on per-CPU pricing, and the company has so far pretended to ignore the massive changes taking place in the processor industry. Unix vendors have sold dual-core processors for some time, and now AMD has joined the party, with Intel to follow. Two cores don't spell twice the performance, but they do deliver enough of a performance boost to muck up per processor licensing models. Now Oracle has acknowledged that multicore processors do exist. "For the purposes of counting the number of processors that require licensing, the number of cores in a multi-core chip now shall be multiplied by a factor of .75," Oracle said. "Previously, each core was counted as a full processor." Still paying attention? "For example, a 4-way, dual core processor server which previously had a list license fee of $320,000 (4*2 [cores] *$40,000) would now have a list license fee of $240,000 (0.75 * 8 [cores] *$40,000)." And it gets even more complicated! A sharp Register reader forwards this advisory from Oracle's finer print: "A multicore chip with 11 cores would require a 9 processor license (11 multiplied by a factor of .75 equals 8.25 which is then rounded up to the next whole number which is 9)." Nice. (Oracle also fails to address Intel's hyperthreading technology and SMT from others vendors - but we're waiting to hear back on those matters.) Oracle will price a one-way server running on a dual-core chip as a one-way server for its Standard Edition One and Standard Edition products, which by itself, makes Oracle's per user and per employee pricing models look pretty attractive. All of this is difficult enough, before you get to the rounding. Naturally, low fractions are rounded up. Stacking up the pricing models The chip makers have lobbied for per-socket pricing schemes to replace the per-processor model. Such proposals make sense when you consider that dual-core chips will quickly evolve into multicore chips and that each processor vendor will have a unique mix of cores and core speeds. Software makers, however, have recoiled at such an idea, knowing that customers will receive tremendous horsepower and need fewer processors. Er, and that the ISVs need just as much money as before. How does Oracle's plan stack up? Well, so far, operating system makers have sided with the chip makers to pick up the per-socket model. In the middleware tier, BEA charges a 25 per cent premium on dual-core systems while a company such as VMware uses the per-socket model as well. IBM stands as the most confusing member of the bunch, pricing software for x86 servers on a per-socket basis, while selling DB2 and middleware for its own AIX OS and Power chips on a per-processor core basis. IBM and Oracle have the most to lose from a massive pricing shift on their highest-end products, making them the least radical of all the major software vendors. It's nice see Oracle at least acknowledge the world changing around it. The company was first pressed on the issue way back in 2002, so it's had some time to mull over the multicore idea. The big losers in all this are, of course, the customers who must now start keeping track of .75 multipliers over here and .25 multipliers over there, while balancing per employee pricing with their left hand and per user licensing with their right hand. Many large companies have already locked themselves into long-term, customized software pricing from a host of different vendors, while smaller companies cannot afford a math whiz from the local college to figure out which pricing model costs less. Meanwhile, hardware makers continue to cram more power in a smaller space, while reducing the price of their hardware. Pretty picture? Not exactly. ® Related stories Microsoft must woo partners IBM cuts software price on Opteron and OpenPower kit AMD tells software companies to re-think dual core McNealy slaps Oracle over pricing Dell turns on too pricey Red Hat Enterprise software faces 50 per cent price hike
Ashlee Vance, 15 Jul 2005

SCO moves to limit Smoking Gun Memo damage

SCO has moved to limit the fall-out from a recently unsealed memo, in which incoming Caldera boss Darl McBride was told that the company had no copyright claims on the Linux kernel. The memo said an audit had looked for, but failed to find a "smoking gun". A week later Caldera renamed itself The SCO Group, and three months later hired lawyer David Boies to lead a legal campaign based on its IP claims. In effect, today's turn of events - in which SCO countered a pro-IBM memo with a pro-SCO memo - reprises an exchange between IBM and SCO lawyers played out last September when the sealed documents were referred to in court. This time we are able to see what they're talking about. Today's memo is authored by Bob Swartz, whose work is summarized in the "No Smoking Gun" memo. Swartz conducted an analysis of Red Hat Linux 5.2 and compared it to UnixWare and OpenServer code. His conclusions are at odds with the NSG memo we reported yesterday. Swartz himself draws three conclusions. "First, many portions of Linux were clearly written with access to a copy of Unix sources," he writes. "Second there is some code where Linux is line for line identical to Unix…. Thirdly, there are also portions of the programs which appear to have been rewritten, perhaps for the purposes of obfuscating that the code is essentially the same." SCO drew attention to the third point in a briefing issued to the press today. So was there smoke after all? Alas, Swartz's own memo is dated October 4, 1999, almost three years earlier before the 'No Smoking Gun' summary of his work provided to McBride. Summarizing Swartz's study in 2002, Michael Davidson wrote - "Most of this work was automated using tools which were designed to to [sic] fuzzy matching and ignore trivial differences in formatting and spelling)." Throw both memos into a time machine, which would reverse the dates, and the picture would look very different. Alas time machines are not permitted in US courts. As it is, we must assume that either SCO/Caldera revised its opinion, and after checking the lookalike code found it had no rights to make copyright claims, or that Michael Davidson misreported it entirely in 2002. "There is, indeed, a lot of code that is common between UNIX and Linux (all of the X Window system for example) but invariably it turned out that the common code was something that both we (SCO) and the Linux community had obtained (legitimately) from a third party," Davidson wrote. Which is more likely? ® Related stories SCO knew Linux doesn't infringe - memo Novell versus SCO will go to court SCO watches Q2 revenue and loss shrink Sun acquires oldSCO for $25m Insiders reveal SCO's Monterey disarray
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Jul 2005