18th > July > 2005 Archive

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Amazon.com goes nuclear on Avis, Orbitz

Amazon.com Holdings has launched a legal offensive against a number of websites including Orbitz and Avis, claiming that they've infringed Amazon patents. Both brands are owned by Cendant, the travel and property services giant with twice the turnover of Amazon. Through Avis and Budget, Cendant owns owns a third of the car rental market, has interests in property franchising (Coldwell Banker) and hotel franchising (Days Inn, Travelodge, Ramada, Super 8), and last year acquired Orbitz. The on-off bickering between the two was renewed on June 20, when Cendant filed suit in a Delaware court claiming that Amazon infringed its patent 6,782,370. The patent, granted last year, is entitled "System and Method for Providing Recommendation of Goods or Services Based on Recorded Purchasing History." Amazon and its search subsidiary A9 responded two days later, claiming Cendant and subsidiaries infringed on Patents 5,715,399 ("Secure method and system for communicating a list of credit card numbers over a non-secure network", filed 1995); 6,629,079 ("Method and system for electronic commerce using multiple roles", granted 2003) and 6,029,141 ("Internet-based customer referral system" filed 1997). Cendant has sought a jury trial, while Amazon says it has suffered "irreparable injury and damages, in an amount not yet determined, for which plaintiffs are entitled to relief". Jeff Bezos says the patent system is broken, but his statements are consistently at odds with his company's actions. Bezos says that business methods patents are particularly bad, but Amazon has filed patents on a wide variety of business methods, including affiliates programs, payments, data presentation and and even gift giving. In an open letter five years ago, Bezos called for a public comment period, but Amazon.com users non-publication requests that prevent the US Patent and Trademarks Office from disclosing the application, such as when it filed to patent a weblog interface. In his defense, Bezos argues that patents are defensive and should never be used, and illustrated this when Amazon.com sued rival bookseller Barnes and Noble for infringing on its notorious One Click patent. In fact Bezos hates patents so much he has applied for 15 in his own name of which eight have been granted; as patent-watcher TheoDP noticed recently, one Amazon patent was granted after five rejections over four years. And as patent '399 shows, he was busy filing before Amazon.com had sold a single book. Clearly, the world needs more crusaders against patent abuse like Jeff Bezos. ® Related stories Amazon profits go down the Swanee Amazon CEO chooses nowhere for space program Amazon's Bezos investigated by Feds Dotcom CEOs are vapid, empty, shallow and that's the good ones Amazon sues Barnes & Noble over checkout system
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jul 2005

Nigerian 419er jailed

A Nigerian woman has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for her part in a massive 419 scam. The case, heard in the Lagos High Court, has been hailed as the first big victory for Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crime Commission set up to fight just such crimes. Amaka Anajemba helped extract $242m from Brazilian bank Banco Noroeste. The email scam claimed to be offering kick-backs on a contract to build an airport in the Nigerian capital Abuja. Much of the money was later recovered. She must sell properties in Nigeria, the UK, the US and Switzerland to help pay back the missing money, according to the BBC. The fraud was discovered when Banco Noroeste was bought by a Spanish bank. The bank's international boss was sentenced to a year in prison in Switzerland. Two other defendants will appear in court in September on related charges. The EFCC has 200 ongoing cases against 419 scammers. 419 scams are named after the relevant section of the Nigerian criminal code. ® Related stories Aussies prosecute first 'spammer' 419er seeks Reg reader for IM romance 419ers seek project manager
John Oates, 18 Jul 2005

Tele2 buys Versatel

Stockholm-based Tele2 AB has offered to buy Versatel Telecom International for a total of €1.34bn to boost its expansion on the continent. As part of the deal, investment firm Apax Partners will acquire Versatel's German operations, the company announced this morning. Versatel has been highly successful in building its German operations, which accounted for approximately 47 per cent of its consolidated EBITDA in Q1 2005. Tele2 says it is fully committed to the triple play strategy of Versatel in the Netherlands. That company will offer exclusive soccer games through ADSL2+ this fall, in combination with broadband internet and VoIP. Tele2 will migrate its existing traffic onto Versatel's network, meaning it will no longer rely on KPN's network for its carrier select services. The combination of Tele2's existing operations in the Benelux market area with Versatel Benelux will have revenues of approximately €800m and EBITDA of approximately €112m. The takeover means Big Brother creator John de Mol's Versatel stake will fetch €475m. Just last week Versatel had to deny reports that it was in takeover talks with Deutsche Telekom, after pranksters had issued a fake press release. Related stories Fake press release pumps up the volume Tele2 increases prices for early morning calls Tele2 slips 3G into Sweden
Jan Libbenga, 18 Jul 2005
For Sale sign detail

Infineon memory boss quits

The boss of Infineon's memory business has quit the company and the board while police investigate corruption charges. Andreas von Zitzewitz offered his resignation on Saturday following police raids on Infineon's offices on Friday. Von Zitzewitz faces possible charges relating to "payments made for contracts regarding motorsport sponsoring". Infineon is not under investigation and is cooperating fully with police. A statement on Infineon's website reads: "Dr von Zitzewit declared his resignation, to spare the company the burden of the ongoing investigation and to be able to fully concentrate on the expected court case." The news comes at a bad time for Infineon which was planning an Initial Public Offering of its memory unit later this year. Without a boss in place this will be difficult to keep on track. Infineon CEO Dr Wolfgang Ziebart will run the memory business until a replacement is found. Infineon's motorsport ventures include a partnership with the Sonoma race track, or Infineon Raceway, just north of San Francisco. ® Related stories IBM to Apple: eat these chips Infineon makes a loss Infineon to sample DDR 3 'in 2006'
John Oates, 18 Jul 2005

Energis and C&W refuse to deny merger talk

Energis and Cable & Wireless (C&W) have refused to rubbish weekend press reports that the UK telcos are locked in talks about a possible merger. According to the Sunday Times, the pair have already hired financial advisors to negotiate the £700m deal. Talks are said to be at an early stage but a merger, should it go ahead, would make a sizeable rival to the UK's dominant telco BT with UK revenues of around £2.3bn. Asked to confirm or deny whether Energis was holding talks a spokeswoman for the telco told us: "We have nothing to say." A spokesman for C&W also declined the opportunity to rule out the report as mere "rumour and speculation" opting for "no comment" instead. This isn't the first time the telcos have been linked as possible merger material. Just four weeks ago the pair were said to be holding behind-the-scenes talks that could lead to the eventual merger of the two UK telcos. These talks were also "at an early stage". However, a tie-up does makes sense. Through its acquisition last year of local loop unbundling (LLU) ISP Bulldog, C&W is well poised to attack BT's established retail market by providing voice and broadband services direct to customers. That is, of course, if Bulldog can sort out its customer service issues. Bringing Energis on board would also give C&W a number of blue chip corporate clients including the BBC, IBM and Tesco. Last month France Telecom was linked with a possible acquisition of C&W, although this was denied almost immediately by the French incumbent. ® Related stories C&W eyes Energis for 'takeover' Bulldog to extend reach of unbundled broadband Carve up BT, says Energis boss Energis all smiles amid whispers of sliding revenues
Tim Richardson, 18 Jul 2005

No2ID pledge reaches 10,000 signature goal

More than 10,000 people have signed a pledge, promising that they will refuse to register for ID cards in the event that the UK government decides we need them to combat the political nasty of the day. The pledge was started by No2ID's national coordinator, Phil Booth. He pledged that, if 10,000 people joined him, he would refuse to register for a National ID Card, and that he would donate £10 to a legal defence fund for anyone prosecuted for doing the same. "Polls have shown for some time that 3 - 4 million people across the UK strongly oppose the Government's plans to introduce ID cards and a National Identity Register," he says in his pledge. "Were this many of us refuse to cooperate then the scheme would be doomed to failure." At the last count, 10,038 people had pledged their support, and the pledge stays open for new signers until 9 October 2005. Plenty of time to put your name down, then, if this is something you feel strongly about. The Pledgebank premise is that no one should have to take a stand alone, especially now that the web can connect us to so many like-minded people. People can use the site to promise action on something that matters to them, provided they get enough support. Tom Steinberg, who founded the site, says that the idea is "a direct attack on the age-old barrier to action that comes from the feeling that you can't achieve things when you're on our own." ® Bootnote: In an email to all those who signed the pledge, Booth explained that No2ID will not be asking for the promised money straight away, but will keep working to stop the Act passing into law, or to have it repealed if it does. Any cash left after all this will either be donated to an appropriate charity, or will go towards drafting a bill to prevent any future government from "imposing compulsory registration and ID cards on the people of the UK". Booth also announced that No2ID will also be launching another pledge very soon. He writes: "Raising £100,000 in a little over a month from people who will refuse to register for an ID card is astounding, but now we want to raise £1,000,000 from people who - for whatever reason - feel they CAN'T refuse to register, but who will wholeheartedly support those of us who do." Stay tuned for more on this. We'll let you know where you can sign up to this one as soon as we have the details. ® Related stories UK EU presidency aims for Europe-wide biometric ID card UK biometric ID card morphs into £30 'passport lite' Thousands sign No2ID pledge
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Jul 2005
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Malware maelstrom menaces UK

Lock up your email servers - there's a blizzard of Windows malware out there. Email security firm MessageLabs has blocked more than a thousand copies of an email worm called Breatel-A (AKA Reatle or Lebreat) which attempts to launch a denial of service attack on security vendor Symantec and opens up a backdoor on infected PCs. The virus is being sent with multiple attachment types, including many .cpl files (Windows Control Panel Files) that may not automatically be blocked by some content filters and firewalls as they are not widely used by virus writers. Typically the infected emails pose as messages that can't be delivered or supposed problems with a user's email or bank account, both common virus writing ploys. The first copies of the virus blocked by MessageLabs originated in Northern Ireland. And that's not all. More than 120,000 emails containing a downloader Trojan – called Small-BDQ - have been sent to UK businesses since Saturday night (16 July), according to email security company BlackSpider Technologies. Firms targeted vary in size and industry with the attack continuing into Monday morning (18 July). The content of the email poses as a message from a user's sys admin warning that their system has been compromised and is distributing spam. The attachment is a packed executable MEW file called zam.exe. The attachment (just 2.8KB) is programmed to download the main Trojan payload from the web. John Cheney, BlackSpider chief exec, said: "The effects of the trojan have not yet been revealed but businesses should be aware that its purpose may well be out to discover sensitive corporate information; perhaps via a key-logging tool." ® Related stories VXers release 'London bombing' Trojan Trojan downloader spam poses as admin email Spyware blizzard shows no sign of let up UK trojan siege has been running over a year Window of exposure lets viruses run rampant
John Leyden, 18 Jul 2005

US gets jitters over in-flight mobes

CommentComment America's regulators are currently running around in circles over the issue of in-flight mobile phone calls. Transcripts of the latest Congress hearings show that experts are equally afraid that they will work, and at the same time, that they won't work. The transcripts also show that the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) will not permit phones in planes until at least the end of 2006, when it will have completed a study. And finally, the "anti-noise lobby" is still insisting that phones are somehow noisier than aircraft engines, and would create an unbearable nuisance. The hearings, in a section covering "National Security Implications" reveal that since 1991, FCC regulations have prohibited the use of certain cellular phones and wireless communications devices on aircraft out of concern that such devices interfere with ground-based cellular phone networks. In other words, cellphones work in aircraft, but it's a nuisance. Fair enough. But then: "Although passengers used cell phones during the 9/11 hijackings to contact family and friends and provide updates to law enforcement officials," the transcript reports (yes, cellphones work in planes!) "the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) raised several national security-related concerns in their joint comments to the FCC about cell phone use on aircraft. These concerns seem to be based on the assumption that either, they don't work - and should not be allowed to work! - or that they do work, and may be abused. DHS and DOJ maintained that the use of personal cell phones onboard aircraft could potentially facilitate a coordinated attack between: a person on the aircraft and a person on the ground; persons traveling on different aircraft; and/or persons traveling on the same aircraft located in different sections of the cabin, who could communicate with one another using their personal wireless telephones. Is the security lobby worrying about current technology? If so, these things are all possible already. Do they expect that the current ban would mean that terrorists would feel too ashamed of breaking the law to use phones to crash planes? Apparently no: they fear that there will be no bureaucratic record of what they did: "Due to these concerns, DHS and DOJ requested that the FCC require that all wireless/air-to-ground carriers/pico cell providers: (1) create and maintain the capability to record (and do record) at some central, land-based storage facility located within the United States, at a minimum, non-content call records relating to all calls processed to and from wireless telephones onboard aircraft; (2) maintain the ability to interrupt and redirect a communication in progress on a given aircraft; (3) provide the ability to transmit emergency law enforcement/public safety information to airborne and terrestrial resources; and (4) provide law enforcement with immediate access to call records upon lawful request." In other words, the authorities aren't sure how picocells work, and are assuming that they operate without reference to normal network call control or billing algorithms, allowing seat 11K to make surreptitious calls to seat 45A without checking with the network to see if they have paid their bills. Alternatively, the security forces are asking for powers which cannot be given in aircraft, without also giving them for the whole mobile network. If it is indeed true that today, a network cannot be asked to switch a call, or terminate it, by the security forces, then this would give the spooks that power. How could it be restricted to in-flight calls? - it couldn't. There's no mention in this transcript of VoIP. Several airlines already provide Wi-Fi services to passengers, and more are going ahead. Are the experts unaware of the ability to send and receive calls over Skype or SIP phones? "DHS and DOJ also expressed concern that the potential for terrorists and other criminals to use communications devices as remote-controlled improvised explosive devices would be increased if air passengers were allowed to use personally owned wireless phones and similar communications devices in flight." Finally Florida representative John Mica took it upon himself to make the "old fogey" vote official: "Over the past few years, the flying public has had to contend with an increasing amount of noise on aircraft from their seatmates, who travel with an array of portable electronic devices like this iPod and GameBoy portable video game." Comment Again, the security forces appear to think that terrorists and criminals would not do this without permission, and that if permission were withheld, they'd be reluctant to try. In fact, even if prohibition on "use" of phones in flight were enforced, it would require technology that isn't currently available, to detect whether a phone is switched on, or not. A phone wired to a bomb would work today, and if terrorists thought of it, the problem wouldn't be the phone part; it would be the basic problem of getting the bomb aboard undetected. A bomb which could not be triggered by a cellphone could still be triggered by any ordinary RF signal from the ground; it's not apparent from this hearing whether the security authorities understand this. As has been pointed out before, the authorities still appear to be under the illusion that the present ban on phone use in planes prevents phone use in planes. As any regular flier can confirm, it doesn't. Most passengers will admit that on occasion, they've got off planes with their phone batteries flattened, because they forgot to switch off - or even sillier, they switched them on when they thought they were switching off, at the start of the flight. Most aircrew, if questioned in situations where they can't be punished, will admit that their colleagues sometimes make phone calls while in flight. Unless and until the FAA mandates technology to detect phone wireless signals in the aircraft and enforce its strict use, most flights will continue to take off with one or two - or more - working cellphones in the luggage racks and hold, and even in jacket pockets. © NewsWireless.Net Related stories To talk or not to talk - that is the question Airbus to enable in-flight mobile phoning in 2006 Germany greenlights mobes on planes EC backs inflight mobile calls Airline passengers love inflight SMS, hate voice calls Inflight mobile calls by 2006? Inflight mobile calls - it's going to happen Time to challenge airline paranoia on wireless
Guy Kewney, 18 Jul 2005

The Cloud touts Skype Zones support

European wireless ISP The Cloud has added its Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK and Sweden to Skype's fledgling aggregated network, Skype Zones. Well, sort of. In fact, many of the sites are already there, courtesy of the 18,000-hotspot deal US-based aggregator Boingo last week signed up to. The Cloud agreed to provide Boingo users with access to its growing network back in October 2003. Skype Zones currently lists 4,734 compatible hotspots in the UK, of which a good proportion are maintained by The Cloud, a quick comparison of the two location databases reveals. The Cloud maintains some 6,000-odd sites in the UK and Sweden, and all of these will soon be tied into the Skype Zones network, the WISP said. The Swedish sites are not currently listed by Skype Zones. A company spokesman said The Cloud's Skype tie-in was a "completely separate deal that has been a long time in the making". It offers "unique" features, including a free hour's access to VoIP-only users - ie. folk who don't surf the web or check email too. "Users with the Skype Zones client will be able to use it in the UK, but will only get the value added services above in The Cloud hotspots," he added. The standard Skype offering provides two hours' Wi-Fi access for €2.50/$2.95, or you can get unlimited access for €6.50/$7.95 a month. The service, while open to the public, is currently in test mode, and Skype warns that the price may change once the service is given a formal commercial launch. Skype itself is available on a variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and PocketPC. The beta version of Skype Zones is Windows only. In March, UK public Internet access provider Broadreach began offering Skype calls via its network of 350 ReadyToSurf hotspot locations. Unlike Boingo, Broadreach doesn't charge for the privilege. Contrary to our earlier report, a Cloud spokesman said the service does include standard Internet access as well as Skype's usual VoIP service. So it's significantly cheaper than dealing with the network direct. The Cloud's prestigious British Library hotspot, for example, costs £9 (€13/$16) for two hours' access - more than five times the Skype Zones' price. Skype will undoubtedly have negotiated an advantageous rate based on its brand strength and the number of users its expects to bring to WISPs' hotspots, but Skype Zones' pricing clearly shows the kind of margins European WISPs ® Related stories Wi-Fi provider pitches Skype users VoIP use on the up-and-up Project Gizmo challenges Skype Mobile and VoIP to inherit the earth Yahoo! buys! Dialpad! Vodafone Germany goes wireless Lan UK Wi-Fi network nabs German WISP The Cloud drifts into Europe with Wi-Fi deals
Tony Smith, 18 Jul 2005
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Time to turn on to power over Ethernet?

Quocirca’s changing channelsQuocirca’s changing channels With the uptake of IP telephony continuing apace and the proliferation of IP devices in general, has the time finally arrived for an old concept – power over Ethernet (PoE)? For certain deployments of IP based technology, PoE is not only cost effective but arguably essential. IP enabled devices like telephones and surveillance cameras that are always on need power, and power means cables. So although most IP devices have the potential to attach to a wireless data network, they can never be truly wireless because of the need for power. But for such devices the power requirements are low. Low enough that just like traditional telephones, both the power and service can be provided by the same cable. This is the concept behind PoE – delivery of low voltage power to a device over a standard Ethernet data cable. This is not a new concept, the idea has been around for years, but take up has been limited. One reason for this has been the lack of standards, but this has changed. The 802.3af standard, agreed a few years ago, is now being widely adopted. Cisco, the leading supplier of data networking products and a major supplier of IP devices, switched from its own proprietary way of doing things soon after the standard was introduced, and many other vendors have now followed suit. This allows for interoperability between different products, allowing resellers to put together proposals based on components from a range of suppliers. Another reason for the slow uptake has been lack of applications, but this too is changing fast, largely driven by the take up of IP telephony. On the surface this would seem an unlikely driver as most IP phones will be on desktops and desktops have power – if the phone needs power, just plug it in. But there are two reasons that make PoE attractive for IP telephony. First not all phones are on desktops, they are also in meeting rooms, corridors, store rooms etc. Sometimes they are in places where a convenient power socket may not be available. With PoE this is not a big problem; unlike high voltage mains supply, IT staff can install Ethernet cable. However, there is another more compelling reason. Telephones need to work in an emergency including when there is a power failure. Traditional telephones do, but IP phones will only do so if there is an uninterrupted power supply (UPS). The only practical way of guaranteeing power supply to a large number of IP phones is PoE. Enabling PoE requires network switches or routers that have been built to handle both data and power supply and these can be powered by a UPS. The cost of upgrading or replacing existing switches and routers can be high making the introduction of PoE prohibitive and driving up the cost of IP telephony implementations. But even if the cost of upgrade or replacement cannot be justified there is an alternative. So called ‘midspan’ devices from vendors like PowerDsine are about one tenth the cost of a traditional switch and can draw power from the mains and data from a switch or router and feed into a single Ethernet cable. Of course, they too need a UPS if power is to be maintained during an outage. The most compelling reason for enabling PoE is IP telephony, but once it is in place other applications become more practical to implement. IP surveillance cameras are pretty cheap now and capable of being powered by Ethernet. Wireless access points themselves can be powered by Ethernet; they have to have a data connection and their placement is more flexible if it is also their source of power. Standardisation and new technology have made PoE a more practical proposition, but it will be business take up of IP based applications that will justify the cost. Once enabling PoE has been put in place for an initial project other opportunities open up. © Quocirca Bob Tarzey is a service director at Quocirca focussed on the route to market for IT products and services in Europe. Quocirca is a UK-based perceptional research and analysis firm with a focus on the European market. Related stories Ethernet forum plots death of SONET
Bob Tarzey, 18 Jul 2005

Sony Ericsson claims Q2 market share gain

Sony Ericsson made €87m ($106m) on sales of €1.61bn ($1.95bn) during its second fiscal quarter, the phone maker said late last week. The company's pre-tax profit was up 24.2 per cent from the previous quarter's €70m, but down 23 per cent on Q2 FY2004's €113m. Sales were up 25.2 per cent sequentially and 7.3 per cent year on year. Unit shipments were likewise up 25.5 per cent and 13.5 per cent, respectively, to 11.8m handsets. The quarter's average handset sale price was €137. Sony Ericsson said it expects the industry as a whole will ship 720m handsets in 2005, 4.3 per cent more than it did last year. Then, some 690m phones were shipped. The firm's formal earnings announcement claimed the company had "gained momentum and market share" during the quarter. Company president Miles Flint put a number to it, in an interview with the Reuters newsagency: Sony Ericsson's share rose from six per cent in Q1 to seven per cent, he said. Still, Sony Ericsson is a long way behind the market leaders: Nokia, Motorola and Samsung. In Q1 it also found itself behind LG and Siemens. ® Related stories Nokia 'not interested' in buying RIM Motorola 'to debut' iTunes phone at UK's V Festival HTC 'Universal' 3G, Wi-Fi phone to ship 'late Q3' Sony Ericsson unveils autumn handsets Sony Ericsson touts 3G/Wi-Fi PC Card 'first' Siemens finds BenQ for mobile phone spin off
Tony Smith, 18 Jul 2005

Cisco sets age limit for board

Cisco has introduced an age bar for its board. Under a new governance policy agreed last week Cisco directors will no longer be eligible for, nominated or renominated to its board after they hit 70. The networking giant's current chairman, John P. Morgridge, 71, will step down after next year's shareholders meeting, which is scheduled for November 2006. But vice chairman Donald T. Valentine and board member James F. Gibbons will not be eligible for renomination for Cisco's 2005 annual meeting in November 2005. Cisco expects the size of its board to drop from 13 to 11 at that time. Cisco's board is largely invisible to customers and partners. Nonetheless a board composing several pensioners sits ill at ease with Cisco's positioning as a go-ahead 21st century net technologies firm. Anecdotes about the Arpanet and thrashing Wellfleet have sadly had their day. Cisco said its board retirement policy put it into line with other technology heavyweights. "Consistent with similar policies adopted by leading corporations, we've initiated this change to create a more formal timeline for board member changes. This provides both the board and our shareholders with a clear road map for the natural evolution of our Board of Directors." said cisco chairman John Morgridge. ® Related stories Cisco restructures into theatres Cisco branches out into middleware Cisco pushes application optimisation Boffins take new angle on anti-aging research
John Leyden, 18 Jul 2005

WinZip bought by VC

One of the web's most popular shareware utilities WinZip has been bought by Vector Capital. WinZip makes one of the most popular compression utilities - it has been downloaded more than 140m times. Vector has bought the firm for an undisclosed amount. But few people bother to pay for the software once the free evaluation period is over. Users should pay $29 for a single user license. WinZip's new owners are likely to improve the firm's ability to make money out of its software. Chris Nicholson, a partner at Vector, told CNet the company was likely to remind people more strongly to pay but said: "We don't want to be heavy-handed about it." He said the firm may also add exclusive features for subscribing customers. Vector Capital specialises in troubled technology companies - it bought Corel in 2003. It has previously invested in Flextronics, LANDesk, NetGravity, RealNetworks and UUNet.® Related stories Corel snaps up Jasc Corel founder slams pathetic bid Intel spins out LANDesk
John Oates, 18 Jul 2005

TeleCity agrees £58m buyout

TeleCity - the UK-based colocation and data centre service provider - has agreed to a £58m buyout led by the 3i investment group. 3i and Oak Hill Investors have set up a new company - Inhoco - as a vehicle to acquire the data centre operation. The 21p a share offer represents a premium of 22 per cent on the 17.25p closing price of TeleCity on Friday. In a statement Inhoco director Ian Nolan said: "We believe that TeleCity is a good business [and] are delighted to be partnering to help TeleCity in its further development and to position it to realise its full potential." That "full potential" could mean trying to pair TeleCity up with another data centre or internet operator. Why? 'Cos Inhoco recognises that that the European data centre market is "fragmented" which "restricts the ability of TeleCity to offer the level and breadth of services which its customers require and to manage the business in the most cost-efficient manner given current and expected market demand". However, industry consolidation could beef up the business enabling it "to capitalise effectively on the continued demand from the marketplace for reliable data centre space and associated services". Although Inhoco stressed it has "no agreements" in place at the moment, it is picking up the phone and making those all important "fancy meeting up some time for a chat" calls. Based in London, Telecity was established in 1998 and floated on the London Stock Exchange in June 2000. It has nine centres across Europe in Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Manchester, Frankfurt, Paris and Stockholm. In the year to December 2004 it generated £25.8m in revenues and EBITDA earnings of £1.9m. ® Related stories Telehouse suffers power failure Redbus offers 'sincerest apologies' for loss of service Telecity paints grim picture of Web hosting sector UK suffers Net outage
Tim Richardson, 18 Jul 2005

China sends pig sperm to space

Get out of the way, Miss Piggy, the Chinese are sending pigs to space, for real. Or at least, pig sperm. The researchers say they want to study the effects of cosmic rays and microgravity on pig semen, so they plan to send 40 grams of the stuff up on the next available rocket. According to China's Xinhua news agency, some of the sperm will be kept outside the space capsule, and some inside. After four or five days in space, the sperm will be returned to Earth where it will used to make test-tube piglets. The pigs selected for this rare honour are from a breed called Rongchang, named after Rongchang county in the Chongqing municipality. The breed is considered to produce pork of outstanding quality, according to Chinese reports. It is not known whether scientists expect the cosmically-toasted offspring to be occasionally invisible, burn at the temperature of a supernova, be particularly stretchy or as hard as rock. We have also been unable to confirm reports that Rebecca Loos' services will be called-upon to extract the sample. ® Related stories MIT boffins moot space leotard Broken oxygen generator threatens space station ESA tests microgravity with orbiting pail of water
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Jul 2005

Vodafone takes the fight to VoIP

Vodafone is responding aggressively to the rise of VoIP by launching a low cost, flat rate phone service of its own, using capacity on its 3G network. Echoing similar moves by its US joint venture Verizon Wireless, Vodafone’s plan reflects the main defense that cellcos have against the non-3G operators that seek to steal their voice markets using voice over Wi-Fi or, in future, WiMAX. The plan is to exploit the superior spectral efficiency of the 3G networks to bring voice prices crashing down and remove the main advantage of VoIP. This could have far reaching implications for the 3G business plans though. UMTS networks allow operators to deliver voice minutes far more cheaply (for about one-third of the cost), and so are valuable in keeping margins stable even as voice prices fall. However, the efficiency of 3G was expected, by most carriers, to deliver a net increase in voice margin for some years as, before mass market wireless VoIP loomed on the horizon, they were predicting gradual erosion of voice rates, rather than a need to compete with flat rates and even, in future, voice services bundled for free. The battle against VoIP One of the key trends putting pressure on the 3G operators’ business plans is, of course, the rise of low cost voice over IP services, increasingly to be offered by wireline and multi-network carriers over wired and wireless links as part of their convergence strategies. Users will increasingly use VoIP, usually over Wi-Fi, when in range of an access point, falling back to cellular only when that is the only connection available. Combined handsets that can support both links and also connect to the landline are starting to come to market, and towards the end of the decade, mobile WiMAX could make it even less necessary to rely heavily on cellular networks. Vodafone is taking the lesson that combinations of services and bundling will be the key to margin, ARPU and customer loyalty in future, rather than single ‘killer applications’ or simple price cutting. Thus, while offering flat rate voice services could have a dramatic effect on its margins, given that voice still accounts for the vast bulk of cellco revenue, it is also expected to drive up customer numbers and retention, and therefore to generate higher uptake of added value data services, some of which are less easily emulated by the non-cellular carriers, at least until they have mobile WiMAX to play with. It will also, Vodafone hopes, accelerate the move for subscribers to dump landlines altogether and in some markets, it may be able to claim such migrants for itself before a commercial VoIP alternative has been launched. "We have to move fast," said incoming CEO of Vodafone Germany, Fritz Joussen. "If we don't, fixed line usage might move to broadband." Increasingly, substitution of fixed lines for mobile is driving the business model for 3G, even more than boosting data usage, and as operators like BT fight back with converged services using Wi-Fi, the cellcos are likely to start to follow Vodafone’s lead and use aggressive pricing tactics to retaliate. The value of a flat rate service, according to the cellco, is that it generates renewable subscriptions and customer satisfaction and delivers a higher margin than the wireline operators command for charging by the minute – lessons the cellcos, which have prospered from their higher per-minute margins, are only just starting to learn from the VoIP carriers like Vonage. The Vodafone ZuHause service The Vodafone flat rate phone service will be rolled out first in Germany, under the brand ‘Vodafone ZuHause Zone’, and will then be extended to other countries, said CEO Arun Sarin. ZuHause (At Home) offers 1,000 minutes of local and national calling for a flat fee of €20 ($24) per month, with extra charges for calls to mobiles and international lines, when the user is at home or within adjacent cells, giving a normal range of two kilometers radius. Initially, the service will be offered as a separate subscription with a dedicated handset that only works in the home zone, but from the fourth quarter, it will be available as an optional add-on to existing mobile subscriptions and handsets. The choice of Germany for the initial launch is largely because its mobile tariffs are among the highest in Europe, and so the service will be highly attractive. Vodafone Germany has also launched a home zone 3G data card service for a flat fee of €34 ($41), providing 5Gbytes of data usage per month. When the subscriber moves out of the home zone, the tariff is increased to the standard mobile rate of €1.6 ($1.9) per megabyte. The cellular operators need to face up to a world of open, flat rate IP access and one where they will no longer be able to charge the huge premium that came with owning the only mobile communications platform in the market. Instead, they will need to adopt innovative pricing and bundling techniques to keep their own systems more attractive than those of the pure IP-based networks, even as these start to acquire mobility. True mobility over IP remains a promise for 2007 and beyond, except in niche areas where a technology such as Flarion or Navini may have been built out. It will be well into the next decade before operators have deployed mobile WiMAX, for instance, on a scale to offer the global coverage of the cellular networks. But voice over Wi-Fi, with all its limitations of coverage, is already impacting the cellular voice model, and WiMAX will accelerate this, even in its early years. This is because there is no need for global coverage to support mobility if Wi-Fi and WiMAX can hand off to a cellular connection when one is available, something that technologies like Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) are making ever more practical. The "IMS tax" The days have gone when the cellular carriers could respond by keeping Wi-Fi and WiMAX connections off their networks altogether, especially as they themselves move towards all-IP and convergence. Instead, they will look to learn lessons from the IP carriers and adapt their business models to remain competitive. Certainly, one of their key advantages is that it is so much cheaper and more efficient to carry voice over 3G than IP. For at least this network generation, before the cellcos have all-IP networks too, they can milk that advantage. By contrast, mobile carriers that move from traditional voice calls to delivering VoIP on their 3G networks – as Verizon Wireless is doing - will find themselves slapped with an "IMS tax" because running voice packets is four times as bandwidth hungry as circuit switched voice. Of course, the move to the IP Multimedia Subsystem and the huge range of applications and bundles that it can support will bring many other revenue opportunities, which will hasten the cellco’s shift to IP, but they will incur higher voice costs as a result. Striking the balance between moving rapidly to advanced IMS services or milking the advantage of cheap 3G voice for as long as possible will be a critical calculation for many operators and will have a key influence on their success in the coming years. Steve Shaw, director of marketing at convergence start-up Kineto Wireless, which created much of UMA, told Unstrung: "For all VOIP services (SIP, IMS, H.323, UMA) there is overhead associated with IP transport. It will certainly not be more efficient from a pure bandwidth per call perspective to use IP versus the highly optimized GSM voice. In today’s GSM voice network, the bearer (voice path) traffic uses about 12Kbps. With that same codec, it’s fair to assume the 'IP tax' will increase call data rates to about 45bps.” This is a possible weakness for CDMA2000 carriers. Qualcomm has defocused on its planned EV-DV (Evolution Data and Voice) release of its 3G platform because it says operators are more keen to avoid a two-step upgrade. So it now offers a new revision of its current EV-DO (Data Only) release to offer greater spectral efficiency and support voice through VoIP. Verizon Wireless, one of the most advanced operators in rolling out EV-DO, is also the first to trial VoIP over CDMA, possibly as part of a longer term convergence strategy with its co-parent, wireline telco Verizon, which aims to deliver a mobile triple play of voice, video and data over broadband and cellular lines in future. But while the strategic benefits in the medium term are clear, in the short term, the ‘IMS tax’ could rob 3G operators of one of their chief advantages against the VoIP brigade, their low costs of delivery. As such, the Vodafone approach of harnessing that spectral efficiency to support flat rate pricing – the main attraction of VoIP to the consumer – over its circuit switched network, rather than moving to rapidly to all-IP, may prove a canny one, especially as, in a couple of years’ time, we can expect significant codec improvements to make VoIP more efficient. Background info: VoIP over WiMAX VoIP will not be an out-of-the-box application for most first stage WiMAX equipment, but progress is being made rapidly in this area. We have already seen Airspan acquiring Arelnet in order to incorporate VoIP into its equipment without the need for expensive add-ons. This week saw some more interesting moves, including a collaboration between Soma Networks and Broadsoft. Soma makes a broadband wireless platform that can support W-CDMA or WiMAX, but is increasingly focusing on the 802.16 market. Its system is now interoperable with Broadsoft’s Broadworks, giving it a VoIP function. Broadworks is a VoIP application platform that manages call routing and provides a number of core web-enabled telephony services including voicemail, call waiting, conferencing, and autoattendant functions. Soma will offer a fully integrated VoIP wireless broadband gateway, which combines a SIP User Agent, analog terminal adapter, wireless broadband modem and Wi-Fi route into a single unit. The BroadWorks solution is already being used by some pre-WiMAX service providers including Azulstar in New Mexico, NextWeb in California and WisperTel in Colorado. The last two offer VoIP through partnerships with CommPartners, whose service is hosted by BroadWorks. Another prominent US pre-WiMAX ISP, TowerStream, has formed an alliance with Bandwidth. com, a nationwide provider of VoIP services, which will distribute the TowerStream wireless service in major cities. TowerStream has focused its direct sales on enterprises looking for T1 alternatives in core metro areas like New York but has always planned to broaden its reach to new territories and VoIP, and eventually consumers, through resellers, once the technology and economics were right. “Our partnership with TowerStream will enable us to offer customers our first pre-WiMAX solution that provides an extremely affordable option for those looking for an alternative broadband solution,” said David Morken, president of Bandwidth.com. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories BT 'BluePhone' Fusion is better than Skype because...? Vodafone leads charge in 3G offensive VoIP suffers identity crisis
Wireless Watch, 18 Jul 2005

Apple to muscle in on MVNO market?

Motorola’s iTunes handset is due to launch, at last, next month, against a background of rising speculation that Apple will become an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), leasing spectrum in the US to offer carrier services under the powerful iTunes brand. The successful MVNOs tend to be those with a well recognized brand that appeals to a well defined customer base, such as Virgin Mobile. Apple iTunes would certainly fall into this category and a music-oriented mobile service incorporating mobile versions of the popular download service would undoubtedly attract high volumes of uptake. We might question whether a device maker would make a successful service provider, but an Apple MVNO would certainly present various threats to the incumbent mobile carriers. It would throw the operators’ own download services and other music-oriented activities into the shade, at a time when music is seen as one of the key growth drivers for cellco revenue in the next few years. iTunes And it goes a step further than most MVNOs because of the level of control that Apple would have over the device. The Motorola iPhone would presumably be at the heart of the offering, although Apple could also work with other handset makers to create a variety of radio-enabled iPods. In any case, because of its expertise in device design and the track record of the iPod itself, Apple will have major input into any handset that finds its way on to an iTunes service, and this will only be helped by software developments such as its joint creation, with Nokia, of an open source mobile browser. This is the type of control over branding, user interface and device design that the major cellcos crave, in order to reduce their dependence on the handset majors and increase their own differentiation, but none of them has the experience in this field that Apple does. The other major MVNO rumor of the week was more predictable. Retail giant Wal-Mart has been expected for some time to enter the mobile market and is predicted to be on the verge of an announcement. Like the successful UK MVNO of supermarket chain Tesco, the store would have the advantage of a readymade distribution network and would be likely to appeal to relatively low income groups with prepaid services and incentives such as family packages or an integration of mobile bills with the loyalty card schemes. European consolidation As MVNOs become more common, consolidation will occur, often through the network owners buying up their virtual rivals. This can be a powerful tactic for a major cellco – letting an MVNO use its brand strength to attract a customer base, perhaps in a market that the network owner had failed to penetrate; commanding leasing fees for the network in the meantime; and then acquiring it once the user base has been built. In Finland, Elisa is looking to buy MVNO Saunalahti, while TeliaSonera of Sweden and Finland is to acquire two Norwegian virtual operators, Sense and Chess. Scandinavia, which was a pioneer of the MVNO model, is also a good indicator of trends that will start to affect other territories where the concept is less established. For instance, the history of MVNO acquisitions in Scandinavia indicates the rising value of these companies. When TDC of Denmark bought Telmore in January 2004 it paid €88 per subscriber, while Elisa will pay €680 per sub and TeliaSonera €563, in markets with similar mobile potential. There is no longer such a gulf in the purchase price for an MVNO compared with a network owner – TeliaSonera paid €1,000 per user recently to buy Orange Denmark, not even twice what it will pay for Chess and Sense, even though with Orange it gains spectrum licenses and network. While MVNOs are flourishing in northern Europe, some other countries have progressed slowly, often because of obstruction from the established cellcos. Spain’s regulator CMT is even considering forcing mobile carriers to open their networks to MVNOs in order to provide more competition to the big three, Telefónica Móviles, Vodafone and Amena. Spain currently has one of the least competitive telephony markets among the major European countries. Last month, Swedish telco Tele2 filed a complaint with the CMT, claiming that Spain's mobile operators are blocking its plans to resell mobile calls. Tele2 wanted to be Spain’s first MVNO, having already launched such services in six European countries. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories Bright future for Europe's MVNOs No-frills MVNOs to steal market share First MVNO hopeful throws hat into Irish ring
Wireless Watch, 18 Jul 2005

Apple iTunes sells half a billion songs

Apple's iTunes Music Store has sold more than 500m songs, the iPod maker's web site revealed this morning. The half-billion target was actually exceeded yesterday, 17 July, we can reveal. Our modelling had anticipated the 500m mark to be passed late June or early July, but the growth rate isn't so far off the forecast, and the company is still on track to sell its billionth song in December, probably towards the end of the month. If growth continues at its current rate, Apple with sell song number two billion next in ten months' time: May 2006. Muddying the water slightly is Apple's own attempts to drive sales past the 500m mark, which included a monster giveaway to the buyer of download number 500m. Prizes included ten iPods, an 10,000-song iTunes gift card and an all-expenses paid trip for four to see Coldplay live. Apple also said it would hand over an iPod Mini and a 50-song bundle every 100,000 songs. The promo was launched on 5 July, 12 days before the target was met. Separately, the Wall Street Journal claims Apple is in talks with the major labels and independents for the rights to sell music videos through iTunes. The paper cites sources who point to a September debut and pricing set to be $1.99 a go. That inevitably suggests a video iPod, and indeed there have been rumours that Apple is looking to compete with Sony's PSP in this regard. ® Related stories US legal music downloads up 187% Motorola 'to debut' iTunes phone at UK's V Festival Apple Euro iTunes stores sell 50m songs year one No more mister nice guy: EMI, Sony-BMG revisit CD copy protection Microsoft mulls music subscriptions Napster vows to maintain premium pricing Napster's Q4 loss swells as costs surge Yahoo! declares! digital! music! price! war!
Tony Smith, 18 Jul 2005
channel

Kingston signs IBM for support

Memory maker Kingston Technologies has signed IBM to provide its customers with on-site support in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Customers signing up to KingstonCare programme will get help from IBM engineers and replacement memory should anything go wrong. The service also provides telephone support and "excellent response times." ® Related stories Elpida touts 'first' 2Gb DDR 2 chip Kingston unveils 'fastest' DDR 2 DIMMs Elpida IPO raises $967m
John Oates, 18 Jul 2005

Sophos service searches for zombie PCs

Anti-virus firm Sophos has launched a service that notifies organisations if any of their PCs are taken over by hackers. The ZombieAlert Service is designed to automatically notifies subscribers about exploited and hijacked computers on business networks. Trojans such as Phatbot are often used to seize control of Windows PCs, turning them into zombie clients in networks of compromised PCs (botnets). These botnets are used to send spam or as platforms for DDoS attacks, carrying out criminal attacks right under the noses of their rightful owners. The tactic allows hackers to offload the computing effort in sending spam while creating a means to get past basic junk mail filters. SophosLabs reckons more than 50 per cent of all spam originates from zombie computers. As spammers become more aggressive, collaborating with VXers to create botnet armies of zombie computers, legitimate organisations with hijacked computers are being identified as a source of spam. This not only harms the organization’s reputation, but can also cause the firm’s email to be blocked by others. ZombieAlert fires off a warning if spam from a subscriber's domain is trapped in Sophos's network of spam traps. It also provides notification to customers if their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are listed in public Domain Name Server Blackhole Lists (DNSBL). These alerts help customers to locate problems and clean up their systems before spam sent from their domain becomes the subject of widespread complaint. ZombieAlert is part of Sophos's premium and platinum support packages. It can also be purchased as a standalone subscription at, for example, $2,500 for organisations with up to 1,000 seats. Cleansing the net from the plague of zombie spam networks has become the focus of a number of industry initiatives over recent months. ISPs are encouraged to apply rate-limiting controls for email relays and to block port 25 (a common Internet port used for email) from inappropriate use as part of an educational campaign called Operation Spam Zombies, launched by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and government agencies worldwide in May 2005. ISPs are also being urged to educate consumers about net security and to provide tools to disinfect computers under one of the most ambitious net security education initiatives to date. ® Related stories Zombie bots fuel spyware boom China signs anti-spam pact US boffins resurrect zombie dogs AOL rebuts zombie network slur ISPs urged to throttle spam zombies
Team Register, 18 Jul 2005

Google tracks Hitler to San Diego

Black helicopter alertBlack helicopter alert Never in the history of conspiracy theories have there been more black helicopters simultaneously airborne than in the case of what actually happened to Adolf Hitler on - and after - 30 April 1945. Those of a less imaginative bent have it that the Führer simply shot himself and then his few remaining mates incinerated his and Eva Braun's bodies outside the bunker. Shortly afterwards, the Red Army arrived and took what little remained of the unhappy couple and whisked the bits off to Moscow. However, some doubts remain. On 1 May, Martin Bormann, Artur Axmann (Hitler Youth supremo) and Ludwig Stumpfegger (Hitler's sawbones) tried to leg it out of Berlin. Axmann was later captured in the Bavarian Alps, and maintained that both Bormann and Stumpfegger had been shot during the escape attempt. Black helicopter watchers know better. Bormann was subsequently spotted in Paraguay, raising speculation that he and his old chum Adolf had relocated to sunnier climes. After all, where better to hide out than South America, where the authorities at that time had a rather laissez faire attitude to top-ranking Nazis bearing large sums of plundered cash. Well, we can now exclusively reveal that there is one location better suited to keeping your head down if you have made yourself rather unpopular by provoking the Second World War - somewhere so improbable that the conspiracy theory paradigm can consider itself well and truly redefined. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to "The Seal's Lair", Bougainville Road, US Navy Exchange, San Diego: Naturally, this being Adolf Hitler, he couldn't just bunker down in some suburban duplex and get on with writing his memoires. Oh no, when you've commanded the Thousand Year Reich you at least want an office complex in the shape of a swastika, courtesy of the Albert Speer school of architecture. Those readers wondering how on Earth the US military didn't spot this before are reminded of the strange case of the arboreal swastika; a plantation of larch trees in a pine forest near the village of Zernikow, 60 miles north of Berlin. Created in 1938 by horticultural Hitler aficionados, the swastika was not discovered until 1992 by a researcher perusing aerial photos. It has since been chainsawed into history, and quite right too. Furthermore, the US can hardly be expected to spot large-scale Nazi construction activity on one of its own bases at a time when every available surveillance resource was directed at Cuban nuclear missile facilites, then Vietnamese troop movements, and latterly, the vast stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction™ left by departing Iraqi ne'er-do-well Saddam "50 Palaces" Hussein. Thank God then for Google - the company which finally laid the Hitler conspiracy to rest. ® Bootnote A quick danke very much to those various readers who pointed us in the direction of the Seal's Lair. Good work. Related stories Google spots Jesus in Peruvian sand dune Need a brothel? Ask Google Google redraws world according to George Bush
Lester Haines, 18 Jul 2005

Sproqit finally cranks out workgroup system

Sproqit will next month ship the delayed Workgroup version of its mobile PC-to-PDA data-access system, the company said today. Originally scheduled to ship in December 2004, Sproqit Workgroup Edition (SWE) provides SMEs with wireless access not only to email and PIM data stored on local PCs and servers, but almost any kind of information. SWE builds on Sproqit Personal Edition, which began shipping late last year. SPE's server component - Sproqit Agent - runs on a single PC to provide real-time remote access to data and applications across the Internet and any wireless network, such as GPRS links. The system supports Palm and Windows Mobile devices which run a compact client app, Sproqit Companion, that displays a representation of the applications running on the host PC and sends back commands derived from the user's interaction with the mobile UI. Files and data stay behind the firewall - it does not use the 'store and forward' approach used by many other mobile data solutions. Neither is data sent to the handheld - the Companion software remotely manipulates the data on the host PC and network services connected to it. New functionality, such as support for further applications, is added solely at the Agent end, so IT departments don't need to recall and update mobile devices. SWE broadens SPE to multiple systems and mobile devices, with up to 50 users supported by a single Workgroup Agent - the local workgroup server - install. The system uses 128-bit encryption to protect the low-bandwidth wireless connections, and certificate-based multi-stage authentication to ensure connected parties are who they claim to be. The software will ship in August, with prices starting at €849/$999 for a five-user licence. No subscription is required - it's a one-off payment, Sproqit's European Market Development chief, Kevin Green, told The Register. Green confirmed that the product will be made available in Europe through distributor Ingram Micro, which let slip news of the deal earlier this month. Green revealed that Unisys will use the technology to power mobile versions of business applications the services company develops for its own clients. A larger-scale, corporate-oriented release, Sproqit Enterprise Edition, is due to be released later this year, a little later than the Spring 2005 originally envisaged. Green said that release would support IBM Domino as well as Microsoft Exchange. Almost all mobile push data solutions focus on the Microsoft product, although Good Technology has said it will add Domino support some time during H1 2006. Support for Windows Mobile-based smart phones, along with Symbian-based devices, is also in the pipeline. ® Related stories Ingram Micro adds five firms Sproqit readies real-time PC-to-PDA remote access Sproqit serves real-time PC access to PDA owners
Tony Smith, 18 Jul 2005

McKinnon warns off fledgling hackers as hearing looms

Gary McKinnon, the British hacker facing an extradition hearing in nine days time has warned other hacking wannabees not to follow his example. McKinnon, who faces a possible 72 years in a US prison if he is forced to stand trial in America for entering over 53 US military computer systems, is terrified by the prospect. "I was not doing anything - I wasn't damaging anything," he said. "I was just looking. I did not think about the legal side of things and now I am facing the prospect of extreme violence in some US jail." Tis is the chilling future that McKinnon wants to bring home to the many well-wishers sending him messages via websites that have sprung up to support him. "One thing that concerns me at the moment is that lots of young people sending emails seem impressed by what I have done and find it exciting and interesting. "Believe you me my current position is wholly unexciting and very, very serious. I would like to say to all aspiring young hackers, do not do it. "Get on with your life, get good grades at school and get a job in computer security if that's your interest. If you are only interested in the mechanisms of computer security then build your own network and practice on that." McKinnon, who practised on computer systems that ranged from Fort Meade, near Baltimore, home to the US National Security Agency, (an organisation bigger and even more secretive than the CIA), to NASA's Johnson Space Center, is unfortunately, only too well qualified to comment Speaking in a series of intensely personal interviews given over the last week McKinnon told the Register about the disaster that his life has become due to his twin obsessions, computing and UFO research. "The worst aspect of what is going on in my life is the effect it is having on the people that I love, especially my parents. "It's like looking at another person when I look back at how I was in 2000 - 2001. I was completely obsessed, uncaring about myself and those around me and yet very concerned with the outside world of George Bush and the US military." At that time, McKinnon, was on a mission to prove that a technology called 'anti-gravity' had been developed by the US and was being kept secret so the US could exploit it rather than releasing it for the good of the world. "Anti- gravity operates via 'free-energy' and free energy could solve almost all of humanity's problems. We could end the oil wars, we could end famine, we could end a lot of human suffering." McKinnon has an explosion of curly, deep copper coloured hair around features that can only be called elfin. Intelligent and articulate, he likens his quest for US military information on autonomous robotic programs and a secret US space base that he believes exists, to an addiction to computer gaming. "The kind of addiction I had to hacking was very similar to how game-playing made you feel, gaining access to deeper and deeper security layers was just like the structure of a computer game. This was the best computer game that I had ever seen but it was real. "Maybe it's because of the full control that you have over the machine but I found that I was getting something that I needed. I used to play first person shooter games because I got that thrill of the hunter and the hunted and I think that's something that men need. "I don't think it's any accident that one of the books about computer addiction is called 'Computer Widows' because it is mainly men that fall prey to the box." McKinnon was a classic victim. Caught by his obsessions he admits that lost touch with reality and morality. When friends came around and he showed them that he had gained control of CCTV systems that allowed him to watch the movement of US military personnel as they worked, those same friends warned him that he should not be doing what he was doing. But McKinnon says he was hooked. "It was affecting my life badly. I wasn't washing or eating and I was spending most of my life in a dressing gown sitting in front of the computer. "Once when I was playing an on-line computer game called 'Unreal Tournament' I had a cigarette in my mouth while I was trying to capture the flag that is the point of the game and I was circling the point where I had to get in, which involved running along the side of a cliff. "The smoke was getting in my eyes and I was so focussed on what I was doing that I threw the cigarette over the side of the cliff - only I didn't - I threw it at the computer screen." The end, when it came, was a relief. On March 19, 2002, Dectective Jeff Donson of the National High Tech Crime Unit knocked on the door of his flat in Crouch End and was let in by his then girlfriend, Tamsin, just after 8 am in the morning. "It felt strangely dreamlike. I had been playing a computer game called 'Space Empires 4' until the early hours so I had only had about an hours sleep and I was very groggy then I woke up to find this man about two feet away from mine telling me he was Jeff Donson and I felt suddenly relaxed, like it was all over. "I was suffering from an obsession that was destroying my life. I wasn't pulling my weight in the house and it was breaking up my relationship, I wasn't bringing in any money and my girlfriend was paying the phone bills." From that point on McKinnon realised the awful cost of his obsession. "I have been paying the price of it ever since and so have the people around me. For three years now, both in terms of my own stress and disappointment and the stress and disappointment of those close to me." Now genuinely remorseful, McKinnon is keen to make amends. "When I heard about the London bombings and that someone had claimed responsibility on a website my first thought was - 'why don't they hack the server, copy the data over, read the logs and find out where the message was posted from'? "I think there's a future in fighting terrorism via the internet, because communications are fundamental to a war on terror. "I know various Governments have their hacking teams and I could be of great value operating as part of one of them rather than rotting in a jail cell." Related stories Leave hacker scum to rot, says MP Pentagon über-hacker rap sheet spills attack details Brit hack suspect faces extradition fight Accused Pentagon Hacker's Online Life Brit charged with hacking Pentagon, NASA
Peter Warren, 18 Jul 2005

You Blew Me Up You Bastard

In these troubled times it's good to know that someone out there is addressing the issue of how you would express your anger and disgust were you - God forbid - to become a victim of terrorist atrocity. Enter You Blew Me Up You Bastard.Com, a new online resource dedicated to ensuring that your ire is properly expressed photographically and verbally: If you're killed by an act of terrorism, the newspapers and television stations will use whatever photo they can. From graduation... Your holiday snaps... Or if you're really unlucky, CCTV... None of these express the anger, the rage, even the disappointment your disembodied spirit will feel at having your life untimely snuffed out. That's where YouBlewMeUpYouBastard.com comes in. We'll store a photo of you, giving it large at the terrorists what done you in, and in the event of your body being blown to bits by a suicide bomber, we'll supply your disgusted image to all news services. So don't let your death stop you telling the terrorists how much they stink. As an example of the sort of posthumous image which will be spread across the world's media, have a look at Dan from London (left) who, with admirable British understatement, has elected to "give it large" with a quick "That is quite enough of that, thank you" from beyond the grave. Naturally, there are some far angrier people in there - and they're not even dead yet. Ozzie bin Laden take note, you bastard. ® Related stories Trojan poses as bin Laden suicide pics Berg execution website shut down Dell in front line of War on Terror
Lester Haines, 18 Jul 2005
For Sale sign detail

Sophos changes channel programme

Anti-virus specialist Sophos is tweaking its channel programme in response to a survey of its resellers. The firm's new business development team will generate qualified sales leads at firms with between 100 and 1,000 seats. Sophos is also increasing availability of its training courses - they're now run every month and it has started courses for its small business suite. There are also individual technical qualifications.® Related stories Sophos service searches for zombie PCs Sophos glitch leaves PCs hanging Fake news spreads email virus
John Oates, 18 Jul 2005
For Sale sign detail

Exabyte buddies up to Northamber

Exabyte is getting Northamber to distribute its products in the UK. It said it chose Northamber to open up new channels especially those aimed at small to medium sized firms. Exabyte makes back up tape systems - its best known products include VXA Packet and LTO Ultrium tape drives.® Related stories Northamber doubles interim profit Cost cuts bear fruit for Northamber PC downturn hits Northamber
John Oates, 18 Jul 2005

Bulldog faces Ofcom complaints

Hacked off Bulldog punters are being urged to contact telecoms regulator Ofcom with their complaints about the broadband provider. Steve Collis from Dartford is spearheading a campaign to notify Ofcom about the problems experienced by some punters after running into his own ISP troubles. Collis plans to pull together as many complaints as he can and forward them en masse to Ofcom. Collis told The Register: "I have received what can only be described as an overwhelming response from disappointed and angry Bulldog subscribers - who feel that waiting over one hour to speak to a customer adviser, no response from technical support on top of patchy, sporadic or no ADSL and telephone service continuity - is completely unacceptable. "Many customers have complained of losing their telephone line for weeks on end, forcing them to use mobiles and other such devices at a far greater cost, thus leaving them out of pocket. Others have experienced overpricing of a service that they have not received. "Customers feel trapped into accepting this ridiculous situation," he told us. So far Collis has received emails from 40 people but is keen for more and can be contacted at collis_steve@yahoo.co.uk Last week the UK's internet trade group ISPA contacted Bulldog over "customer service issues" and received assurances from the Cable & Wireless-owned ISP that measures are in place to deal with matters. But that is not enough for some punters who've been left without phone and internet services following their transfer to the local loop unbundling (LLU) provider. ALthough ISPA has intervened, Ofcom has refused to say whether it has seen an increase in the number of complaints about Bulldog or whether it has contacted the ISP. A spokesman for the watchdog told us that it does not provide data and information on individual companies. "If Ofcom identifies a particular clear pattern of complains we will speak informally to the company," a spokesman for the regulator told us. If matters are not then resolved then Ofcom would launch a formal investigation, he said. Asked whether Ofcom has contacted Bulldog over the complaints, a spokeswoman for the ISP told us: "We're constantly on touch with Ofcom and this is part of our regular discussions with them. Later this week, though, we will be putting forward our new plans to Ofcom concerning our customer services." ® More emails from unhappy Bulldog punters The weekend has brought no let-up in the number of emails El Reg has received about LLU ISP Bulldog. Here's just a selection: I'm sure you have heard all this before but here are my complaints...missed the switch over date, several times...never properly contacted BT Internet to switch over services I continued to get billed ? I had to do it myself through BT, who were fantastic...a service that regularly drops, two or three times a week, for hours at a time...it doesn't do what it says on the tin - it's not 8 meg...the phone line quality is poor: tinny and often with an echo...'Customer Care' - the biggest oxymoron of all time. Impossible to get through. As useless a service as I have ever seen. Here's another Bulldog trainwreck to add to the barrage. I ordered a new line with 8 meg ADSL as I didn't trust them to meddle with my existing BT line, and didn't want to lose the ASDL service I have from Nildram - which is of unquestionable quality. The new line is scheduled for installation in four days. Two days ago I picked up the phone on my existing line and a voice greeted me with 'Welcome to Bulldog'. Nildram have also been booted off the line and replaced with Bulldog ADSL. Once it became apparent that their customer service was utterly dysfunctional I filed a complaint with ISPA. I'm still waiting to have my service restored from BT which might take up to ten days. I'm one unhappy bunny. I'm hacked of with Bulldog and I don't even have their broadband! The first was a call from India telling me they have a wonderful offer and how much did I spend on broadband. Then he got stuck in a loop repeating 'that's an amazing 4 meg - eight times faster than your current broadband' . I mentioned that mine was 1 meg cable, so it was really 4 meg but he couldn't grasp that and I hung up. Then he called right back and continued! And more calls over the next few weeks - the last began "Look here Sir, we know you spend 30 pounds a month on phone bills..." And then I begged Bulldog to pull their hounds off. There isn't even a BT line to this property. ®/ Related stories Bulldog removes 'best broadband provider' claim from website ISPA wins assurances from Bulldog ISPA contacts Bulldog over spike in customer complaints Bulldog fingered for misleading radio ad
Tim Richardson, 18 Jul 2005
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Enta and MAXDATA

Enta Technologies will now distribute all of MAXDATA's products. MAXDATA is best know for its Belinea range of monitors but Enta will now sell its MAXDATA branded desktops, notebooks and servers. It will be a challenge because the brand is not well-known in the UK. Enta said MAXDATA had a "first-class set of products". The company, which claims to be a top five PC, manufacturer in Germany, employs 1,200 staff in nine locations.® Related stories Enta runs MS Small Business Server promo Ingram Micro sales solid Ingram Micro sues Yahoo! BB posters
John Oates, 18 Jul 2005

Germany backs ESA's mission to Mars

Germany has signed up to the preparatory phase of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars mission, the Aurora project. During the preparatory phase, partner countries will hammer out agreement on exactly what Aurora's missions to the moon and to other planets should look like. By December, the proposal for the next phase should be ready, with a mission to Mars leaving in 2011 expected to be a central plank of the programme. Dubbed ExoMars, the mission will send a lander and a rover to the red planet to carry out exobiology and geophysical analysis of the Martian environment. Although it will take off from Earth in 2011, it won't land on Mars until 2013. David Parker, the Director of Space Science at PPARC and UK lead on the Aurora project explained that although the Germans had been expected to sign up for a while, it is good news that they have done so formally. "They've put the money in place for the preparatory phase, and have indicated that they will stay involved through the next phases," he told us. "Germany as a percentage of ESA is around 25 per cent, so it is a big chunk of money. Even if they don't put in quite the full 25 per cent, it is a significant anchor for Aurora. It doesn't directly affect UK decisions about long term participation, but it means that overall, Aurora is more likely to happen." There has been a healthy and vigorous discussion over the best approach to the form any Aurora missions might take, with the highest profile area of disagreement being over manned vs. robotic flight. The UK is a strong supporter of sending robots, arguing that it is the most cost effective way to do good science. Germany's decision to commit to Aurora might well shift the balance further in favour of robotic exploration: "Germany is pretty much in line with the UK in terms of supporting robotic exploration of Mars," Parker added. ® Related stories Europe will land on Mars in 2013 PPARC sets up Mars committee Lack of cash killed Beagle 2
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Jul 2005

Asbo teen ordered to get legless

A Northumberland teenager has been granted every tearway's dream - an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) requiring him to get drunk and "to use threatening behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to members of the public". According to UK tabloid the Mirror, the unnamed 15-year-old yobbo was legally obliged to carry alcohol on the streets of his native Alnwick after the order rather agreeably substituted the word "without" for the word "with". Accordingly, the lad was technically in breach of the Asbo if found terrorising the good burghers of his home town without an alcopop in his hand. The Asbo was issued last February, but the cock-up was only discovered when the teen found himself hauled once more before the magistrates for apparently breaking the conditions of his Asbo, although the case against him was dismissed because he had, obviously, simply been doing as instructed. An exasperated copper told the Mirror: "It took a long time to bring him to book and get him before the court in the first place. It is maddening to spend all that time only for the order then to tell him to go out and misbehave. It really does beggar belief." The powers that be are, mercifully, now calling time on the wobbly rascal. A new Asbo will prevent him from "having alcohol in his possession or being drunk in public" and/or "causing distress with unruly behaviour". ® Related stories Foetus threatened with Asbo Kidnap hoax woman gets first mobile ASBO Dad uses web to shame kids over obnoxious behaviour
Lester Haines, 18 Jul 2005

MS probes Win XP SP2 kernel bug

Windows XP SP2 has proved to be a lot more robust than critics give Microsoft credit for but that doesn't mean it's immune from security problems. Security researcher Tom Ferris of Security-Protocols.com discovered a bug in XP's kernel that might be used by hackers to crash even fully patched systems with Windows firewall switched on. The vulnerability stems from a flaw in Remote Desktop Services (disabled by default except on Windows XP Media Center Edition). A maliciously constructed RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) request might be used to mount denial of service attacks but Ferris said the bug doesn't lend itself to injecting hostile code into vulnerable systems. Microsoft has confirmed the vulnerability but says the risk is limited to denial of service attacks. "We have not been made aware of attacks that try to use the reported vulnerability or of customer impact at this time, but we are aggressively investigating the public reports," it added. Nonetheless security alert notification firm Secunia rates the bug as "critical". Seperately, Secunia last week also posted info on another Windows XP SP2 security bug. It warns that a flaw in a Windows Network Connections Service component (netman.dll) also poses a denial of service risk but this is only applies to local users not remote attackers hence a much reduced security risk. ® Related stories Firefox update completes busy patching day Three critical fixes in MS July security update MS issues final software update for Win2K 10 vulns - three critical - in MS patch batch MS debuts 'forthcoming attractions' pre-alert alert
John Leyden, 18 Jul 2005
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EC raids Dell in Intel anti-trust probe

The European Competition Commission raided Dell's office last week at the same time as it was rifling through Intel's files, as part of an anti-trust investigation into the chip-maker. A spokesman for the Competition Commission told us that it had visited Dell's offices, and that this was linked with the Intel investigation. He added that there is no indication at this stage that Dell has behaved improperly. "The centre of our investigation is Intel's practises in selling its chips," he told us. "In connection with that, we are also talking to lots of Intel's customers," of which Dell is one. The news follows accusations from the channel that Dell had been taking a loss on contracts in the UK specifically to keep the channel out. Gordon Davies, commercial director at systems integrator Compusys, told us he first noticed Dell being particularly aggressive in pitching against the channel about 18 months ago, shortly after Intel's Paul Otellini spoke publicly about how important the channel is to the chip maker. There has also been speculation that Dell's activities could have been funded by marketing subsidies from Intel in the US. The Register understands that the Commission is taking this speculation very seriously in its investigation. According to a report in channel mag Microscope, Dell confirmed that the Commission had paid a visit last Tuesday (12 July). The visit reportedly lasted for two days, and Dell said it has been cooperating with investigators. ® Related stories Date set for Intel's response to AMD antitrust claims Intel and Dell thrilled to join the dual-core server chip era Dell: why Customer Care had to die
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Jul 2005

ICANN prez delivers internet vision

InterviewInterview In his most revealing interview since taking charge of internet overseeing organisation ICANN in March 2003, president Paul Twomey has accused governments looking to subsume ICANN into a UN body as "living in a political fantasy land", while at the same time being thankful that the internet community doesn't have tanks. Just months before the future of the internet is decided at a world summit in Tunisia, Twomey also tackled the US government's recent assertion of control over the foundation of the internet, plus internal criticism of the organisation's expanding budget and the recent process that handed ownership of the dot-net registry to VeriSign. Twomey also: Accused some governments of being short-sighted in their aims Offered reform of ICANN's governmental advisory committee (GAC) Praised the "robust and colourful" internet community Called for greater interaction in ICANN's decision-making processes Promised that ICANN would focus on improving its core technical functions He also outlined how ICANN was now entering the world of inter-governmental negotiations as the internet grows from its roots of being an engineer and academic-created network to a global medium with vital implications for worldwide education, information and commerce, plus the role he expected to play in keeping ICANN's best interests at the top of the agenda. WGIG But first, with the UN's Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) report just published in which it outlines four models for the future of the internet's administration, only one of which sees ICANN retain its autonomy, Twomey was keen to point out the distinct advantages that the current model has for world governments. "I think ICANN came out of that very intense investigation pretty well - pretty damn well actually. The question is now really focusing on what is the appropriate place for governments where they can interact. "I think it’s very important that in this single interoperable internet that doesn’t know boundaries, that has been built up through the academic and private network, that handles huge numbers of resolutions today, is very much a source of innovation, it’s a bit useless just to have governments in a room - you’re going to have to go through a multi-stakeholder process just to inform everybody people about what is going on. "In that sense I am much more a pragmatist than a purist, I think that the pragmatic benefit to the international community is to have a multi-stakeholder focus for discussion." And, of course, Twomey sees ICANN's own Governmental Advistory Committee (GAC) as providing governments with the ideal entry point into that process. He is happy to see changes if they eleviate governments' current concerns: "If they wish to change the name of it, that’s up to them inside the GAC. If they want to revise how it works, that’s up to them. But it strikes me it would be exceptionally short-sighted of a government to say ‘I want to get rid of this’ for whatever political theory reason when actually it’s a mechanism whereby they can ensure that something that they cannot guarantee will be put in place." And by "cannot guarantee", Twomey is quite explicit: "The internet is well over 200,000 interconnecting private networks. Nobody owns the whole thing. ICANN has contractual agreements - has over 500 of them - with registries and registrars which help set frameworks for how those functions work across those networks, and those are contracts written in international private law. "One of the key provisions of every contract we sign is that the party agrees to abide by consensus policy. And consensus policy is a process outlined in our bylaws whereby all the various parties, stakeholders in ICANN, can come together and agree a consensus around some policy that needs to be implemented. Once they agree to this consensus policy - that applies to every contract we have." Contrary to one of the models outlined in the WGIG report, Twomey argues that the GAC cannot be pulled out of the current mechanism. "The government advisory committee is an essential and integral part of ICANN. It's not a separable part." And as for the plans to break ICANN apart completely: "If the UN decides to go with one of the other plans, they could throw a very important baby out with the bathwater." Besides, the alternative to the GAC and ICANN process is, in real terms, non-existent. Governments could of course bring out their own legislation to cover different elements of the internet, but "they would only apply in their jurisdiction. A few countries would try to have extra-territoriality and we'd just ignore them. "[Alternatively], they could try to pass some international treaty which is then going to bind private companies, but we’re talking political fantasy land. There is no indication as I can see that there is going to be any sort of support for a binding international treaty that going to cover all countries of the world and bind all of the companies involved with the internet through that treaty - I just don’t see it happening. The internet fundamentally was built through private contract." On top of that, Twomey points out that the GAC already has a tremendous amount of power in the ICANN system: "There’s no instance that I know of - and I should know because I was chair of the GAC for four years - no instance I know of where the GAC has not got what it’s asked for." The US government and its 'principles' But, of course, ICANN had reckoned without the US government announcing just a few days before the WGIG report was published, a series of four "principles" in which it stated it will "maintain its historic role" overseeing the internet's root zone file. None of the UN's four models of future internet governance see the US government retain overall control. The report even goes so far to say: "No single government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international internet governance." This puts ICANN in a difficult spot, especially with Twomey having gone on record numerous times in the past as saying he expected US control to be handed over when ICANN's contract with the government (a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MoU)) ends late next year. Twomey says he was surprised at the media reaction, which reported the announcement as a US government refusal to hand over control of the internet. He is more circumspect: "The first three principles are written in the present tense or the near future tense. They are a statement of the present state of what they do. "The key thing about such documents is not what they say, but what they don't say. It doesn't say anything about the MoU. This is not a bad thing - contrary to what’s in the media. We have an MoU that still goes through to September 2006, it’s an established document, we’re working towards that. Do we see this as some sort of radical disenfranchisement of ICANN? Absolutely not. I think some of the media misinterpreted it as being a document directed towards us. I suspect it was a document directed towards other governments. " What Twomey is saying is that the first principle which has caused the fuss is a bargaining tool with the UN as the future of internet governance is thrashed out. There is no suggestion that the US government will continue to insist on control of the root zone once the WSIS process is complete. Here is that first principle: "Given the internet's importance to the world's economy, it is essential that the underlying DNS of the internet remain stable and secure. As such, the United States is committed to taking no action that would have the potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS and will therefore maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file." Twomey is bemused: "I don't think anybody should be surprised that the United States government would come out with this statement now as a set of principles with which it could then go and talk to other governments. And I suspect that is the process happening at the moment." Internal criticism If ICANN has found itself under the spotlight from outside, it is also under stronger criticism from within its own organisation. In particular, its ever-expanding budget and the recent process by which VeriSign was handed back control of the dot-org registry. Twomey begins with an observation of the internet community as a whole. "There's no point in having a thin skin in this game. In the internet community from the very beginning it’s robust. Some of our friends from the diplomatic community that have come to watch ICANN meetings have sat there somewhat shocked. I suppose one thing about the internet community is that we don’t have tanks. If you’re a diplomat and you start talking like that, you know, next week the tanks are rolling." But such fireworks serve a purpose: "It's very useful because it brings up problems, it's a way of solving problems. But yes, there's still personalities, and yes I suppose they are going to continue and they are going to continue to be noisy and that's fine. I have experienced in my own previous life as a government officials, the full and varied and colourful vitriol that Australian citizens can come up with when dealing with the elected representatives and their officials. I think it’s healthy. It means issues come out quickly." And nowhere has that criticism been as strong as in the recent retendering process for the dot-net process. The rage was such that chairman Vint Cerf himself apologised at the start of a public meeting for how the process had been handled. Twomey however insists that there was no wrong-doing. "The whole dot-net process was this 18-month process with a lot of open consultation and a lot of open transparent processes to put that together. In any environment where people are going to win and lose, people are going to criticise. But I think the process has pretty much stood up. "Whatever came out, whether VeriSign was to be successful or someone else was successful, people would have had various alternative conspiracy theories. And there’s nothing we can do about that. All we can do is follow a process and put it through. "I can tell you - and I am absolutely personally emphatic about this - we ran a process, the process was evaluated, the evaluators came back and gave us their report, there was a decision made, and there was absolutely no influence, and no thought throughout that whole process over who should the winner be." Alot of the criticism, he claimed, is actually criticism of the outcome. "If you didn’t like the outcome, I can understand that. Some people win and some people lose, but I don’t think it justified the process was flawed." Process The difficulty - and a major issue with ICANN - is that there while the process itself is open for comment, for one reason or another, people failed to provide significant input until the process was completed and the decision made. In the case of dot-net, large changes were made unilaterally by ICANN staff but these were either not noticed or not commented upon during the period made available for feedback. Picking on one small point, Twomey explained: "We put the RFP up for comment. Nobody wrote in and said 'hang on one of the principles of the RFP should be to ensure that dot-net is held outside the United States'. We didn't even get that to consider to put into it." Twomey accepted there was a problem with communication. "There is an issue about that at the moment. We've got to work more on ways of getting more people participating. It is a bit frustrating. We've got to run a proper process but we’ve also got to be an efficient process. We can't put some principle in that says 'well we won't stop this until we have 60 responses'. We've got to say the process of consultation will last four weeks or six weeks and once you get that period of time, it's over." And as an example of how ICANN is trying to improve, he refers to the ongoing strategic planning process. "We are doing a process in three languages - English, French and Spanish. We are using a group software process where people can come in and can respond in immediate terms what they think. We’re trying to use these sorts of tools, challenging people to come, to force the feedback rather than post the document waiting for responses, not get many responses, go to a meeting and get savaged. There’s something broken about that so we're going to try to find an alternative, use alternative tools." Budget woes Another bone of contention is ICANN's budget. The projected budget for 2005 was double the previous year at $15.8m, causing significant anger in the community who accused ICANN of empire building and who will be asked to stump up the money for it. Now it appears even that figure was conservative with it expected to come in at $23m, possibly even more. The outcry has caused the ICANN Board to promise to hold back several programmes - in particular spending on regional offices - until agreement is reached with all constituent parts. Twomey is unrepentent. "One of the things you have to be careful with in the internet community and ICANN is that there's a great ease in saying ‘we’re got to do this, this, this, this and this’. The meeting finishes and I sit there thinking 'oh well there's another two million dollars worth of costs, I don't know what I'm going to do'. That happens a lot. I mean, a lot of people want a whole lot of things - and you've got to pay for it somehow or other." Twomey denies the empire building accusation. "Sheez, if I wanted to build a financial empire I'd go out in the private sector and at least get options for it. I've been trying to solidify the financial basis and get the budget in place. That's not because I want to build any damn empires." As for widening ICANN to the rest of the world, Twomey sees it as vital. "Part of our experience of having people working in Europe is being in timezones. It's a big issue if people can ring someone in their own timezone and deal with in their same timezone. It's a big issue that they can interact with someone, it's a big issue that they can interact in the language that they speak, it's a big issue that they understand the culture that they are coming from. "It's also important to recognise that there are communities that are not yet represented here who want to be represented, but will not necessarily have the same resources. And that’s an enablement chance for us. An outreach chance. "Nitin [Desai - the UN special advisor on internet governance] has said that the growth in the internet is in the developing countries. They’re going to want to be heard, they want a seat. They don’t think of themselves as second-class world citizens." The future and the Twomey legacy The next four months are going to be vital for ICANN. It is now under blatant discussion by the world's governments and in November they will decide exactly what happens to the seven-year-old organisation. It hasn't exactly passed Twomey by. "We’re now in a very different environment. We’re back in the fairly close inter-governmental negotiating environment. It will be interesting to watch in the two weeks in September [Prep-Com3] to see just where the main players have gone and how the discussions go." Twomey also recognises the reason he's is on board as ICANN's president is precisely because of his wide experience as a government official. "I suspect if you were to ask the Board members, if you were to ask Vint Cerf and others, why did you choose a certain man as president. I suspect the choice of who they chose for president was an indication of the Board understanding the environment they were having to work in. They knew what sort of skills they needed to have." Having been in charge of ICANN for nearly two-and-a-half years, Twomey says he still far from leaving but he already has some reflections on his time spent at the top: "There are clearly people that disagree with parts of what they think I’ve been an agent for. I know there are people out there who aren’t necessarily happy with things they think I’ve been pushing. But I think alot of people have been on a common view of the common need, I mean, my real thing is to take this back to the common need." And as for lessons learnt: "Three-quarters of the things I’ve learnt I probably can’t repeat in public." Related stories UN outlines future of US-less internet UN report to leave ICANN’s balls intact US govt interference is a big deal, says Europe Bush administration annexes internet Verisign and .net: a winner all the way
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Jul 2005

Orange SPV M500 smart phone

First UK reviewFirst UK review The SPV M500 is Orange's take on HTC's 'Magician' compact PocketPC phone, which began appearing earlier this year in a number of guises, such as the i-Mate Jam.
Tony Smith, 18 Jul 2005
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VMware greets new dual-core chips with old world licensing

VMware has joined to the rush to recognize dual-core processors and changes the chips demand of software licenses. What's VMware's plan? Well, thankfully, to treat the dual-core chips on the market from AMD and soon from Intel as regular, old single-core products. VMware's stance puts it in the "per-socket" camp where, as you might guess, software makers now price their code on a per-socket basis instead of a per-processor basis. This allows chip makers to cram as many cores as possible into a single socket and lets customers truly take advantage of this performance boost. Companies such as Microsoft, Red Hat, Novell, and IBM for x86 software-only have embraced the same model. One can see how VMware would look silly promoting any other pricing scheme. The company's server partitioning pitch revolves around convincing customers they can get more out of their Opteron- and Xeon-based servers. VMware wants to be the low-cost consolidation king, and dual-core chips support such a goal. Customers can pick up the lower-end GSX Server product with the new licensing terms right away for dual-core Opteron servers from the likes of HP and IBM. The high-end ESX Server product will be sold with the new terms for dual-core chips next quarter. Even at year-end, customers will only be able to pick up dual-core servers from HP and IBM, if they want to tap this licensing model. Intel won't ship a dual-core Xeon processor in volume until 2006. In addition, VMware doesn't currently support Sun Microsystems' broad line of Opteron-based servers. That, however, could change. "(Sun) is an area that we're looking at," said Raghu Raghuram. senior director of strategy and market development at VMware. The simplicity of VMware's model proves refreshing after Oracle last week unveiled a complex scheme full of rounding, fractions and modest customer benefits. Oracle wants customers to multiply the number of processors cores in a system by .75 and then round up to the next whole number regardless of the fraction. The per-socket model seems much more customer-friendly as it doesn't add any complications to an already complex software pricing landscape. Processor vendors have long upped the speeds of their chips without complaint from software vendors. In fact, the power of Xeon processors opened a whole new world to Oracle away from Unix machines. Now, the chip makers are simply boosting performance by adding cores instead of raising GHz. Software vendors should get in line and conduct their business as usual. ® Related stories Oracle processor core pricing a comedy of fractions IBM opens x86 Veritas cluster and storage shop Red Hat salutes Opteron with dual-core happy update Xen grows up with SMP server slicer BEA mauled by grumpy Bear Microsoft's Virtual Server to become a 'feature' in 2009 VMware starts virtual machine club for developers and ISVs AMD prints 'Pacifica' virtualisation spec
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jul 2005

Typosquatters hijack US credit report site

Privacy-sensitive US citizens aiming to get their government-mandated annual free credit reports have to be careful not to endanger their sensitive data instead, stated a report released last Thursday. More than 200 domains with similar spellings to the official AnnualCreditReport.com site have been registered by private companies to take advantage of consumers' typos. At least 112 of the domains direct wayward consumers to sites that take advantage of a victim's mistake, including sites that collect the visitor's social-security number (SSN) for marketing purposes, said Pam Dixon, executive director for the World Privacy Forum, the privacy advocacy group that published the report. "When you have 220 million people who are ready to put in an SSN, but a typo sends them to the wrong domain, then you have a problem," Dixon said. "I don't know how a consumer could wind their way through this labyrinth and see all the pitfalls." The report outlines one downside of the government's response to identity theft, as announcements of new data leaks continue to plague the financial and healthcare industries and universities. In June, MasterCard International warned that a security slip-up at third-party credit-card processor CardSystems Solutions endangered up to 40 million credit-card accounts. Earlier this month, the University of Southern California shut down its online system for accepting applications after a flaw was found to endanger the personal information of as many as 280,000 prospective students. The Annual Credit Report website was mandated by Congress with the passage in December 2003 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act, a mix of consumer and credit-industry protections. Among the pro-consumer parts of the legislation is a mandate that the three major credit agencies allow Americans to receive a free credit report every year. Consumers must be allowed to order the reports through the mail, by phone or over the internet. The three credit agencies established the AnnualCreditReport.com site to service internet requests. The site is managed by a joint effort, known as the Central Source, between those credit agencies and the Federal Trade Commission. The site has rolled out services to consumers based on the geographic region of the United States in which they reside. People living on the West Coast were able to access their credit information on 1 December, 2004. Both the Midwest and Southeast regions of the country now have access, with Northeast residents gaining access by 1 September. However, a steady stream complaints from consumers, whose typos or use of similar names have landed them on link farms and impostor sites, also began with the activation of the services, said Dixon. "People started calling us, complaining about various domains," she said. "There is a whole range of computing skill out there among consumers - educating 200 million people is hard. I think there is a lot more work to do." The number of sites have more than doubled to 112, since the WPF published its first report, based on consumer complaints, in February. In one case, the domain "wwwannualcreditreport.com" led to a site that requested visitors' social-security numbers and then shared that information with a number of other companies, according to the report. After a complaint to the Central Source in early June, the site was taken down. Another 68 domains are owned by Domain Sponsor, a subsidiary of Oversee.net, and lead to websites hosting links of other sites offering credit reports. Oversee.net did not return requests for comment. Legitimate companies, or their affiliates, are also using visitors' typos to redirect consumers to their websites, according to the report. For example, "annualcreditmonitoringreport.com" leads people to FreeCreditReport.com, a site owned by TrueCredit, a subsidiary of the TransUnion credit bureau. TransUnion did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Another four websites, with names such as "creditreportannually.com" and "annualonlinecreditreport.com," lead consumers to credit-checking company, Intelius. The company offers background checks and people searches for a fee. While the company is under agreement with an affiliate to not sell the sites, chairman and CEO Naveen Jain said the company is now considering asking visitors if they intended to go to the AnnualCreditReport.com site. "I don't have a problem with making sure that people want to be at our site and sending them to the annual credit report site if that's where they want to go," he said. While many of the sites using the controversial tactic may not be where a consumer intends to visit, in many cases, the only harm is confusion. Only in a few cases do websites ask a trusting visitor for sensitive information, WPF's Dixon said. "A lot of people who contacted us spent $35 on a credit report and that was their only harm," she said. In the end, Dixon believes that navigating the online world may be too difficult for the average consumer and recommends that any non-technical users contact the credit bureaus by phone or mail. Copyright © 2004, Related stories Database misuse: who watches the watchers? Privacy from the trenches Fraudsters expose 100,000 across US
Robert Lemos, 18 Jul 2005
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Cost of US cyber attacks plummets

The cost of individual cyber attacks fell dramatically in the US last year but unauthorised access and the theft of proprietary information remain top security concerns. The 10th annual Computer Crime and Security Survey, put together by the Computer Security Institute (CSI) in conjunction with information security experts at the FBI, shows financial losses resulting from security breaches down for the fourth successive year. The cost of breaches averaged $204,000 per respondent - down 61 per cent from last year's average loss of $526,000. Virus attacks continue as the source of the greatest financial pain, making up 32 per cent of the overall losses reported. But unauthorized access showed a dramatic increase and replaced denial of service as the second most significant contributor to cybercrime losses. Unauthorised access was fingered for a quarter (24 per cent) of losses reported in the CSI/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey 2005. Meanwhile losses from theft of proprietary information doubled last year, based on the survey of 700 computer security practitioners in various US corporations, universities and government agencies. The study found fears about negative publicity are preventing organisation from reporting cybercrime incidents to the police, a perennial problem the CSI/FBI study reckons is only getting worse. Assuming that this isn't true of what respondents also told CSI's researchers (academics from the University of Maryland), the study presents a picture of reducing cyber crime losses that contrasts sharply with vendor-sponsored studies. Chris Keating, CSI Director, said its study suggests that organizations that raise their level of security awareness but warns against complacency in the face of a changing cybercrime threat. "Individual users are more exposed to computer crime than ever, due to the growth in identity theft schemes. We can't help but note the shift in the survey results toward more financial damage due to theft of sensitive company data. This is an ominous, though not unexpected, development and underscores the need to insist that enterprise networks be properly safeguarded," he said. The CSI/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey aims to help determine the scope of computer crime along with promoting security awareness. It can be downloaded from the CSI's website GoCSI.com (PDF - registration required). ® Related stories GAO gives US.gov D- for security FBI publishes computer crime and security stats Computer intrusion losses waning The growing problem of identity theft
John Leyden, 18 Jul 2005

SAP seeks irrelevant executive

Backoffice software giant SAP appears to be bringing a refreshing new approach to its recruitment policy. The company is currently hiring a director of business development for its Palo Alto office. It's an important job: developing partnerships with software vendors in key vertical markets. Perhaps that's why SAP stipulated such an unusual requirement for the post. As you can see, the job calls for over 10 years experience - which has to be completely irrelevant. So how does one go about acquiring irrelevant experience? One can only deduce that SAP needs someone with no experience of ISV relations at all, and a clean room ignorance of all the verticals he or she will be dealing with. Filling this post could be tricky. And the successful candidate is in for more disappointment. While one of the requirements for the job is "Willing to travel both domestically and internationally on a frequent basis", the "Travel Required" box is marked no. So back to your cubicle with you - and await further instructions. The job description is here. ® Related stories Oracle seeks manicurist I'm Carly, Fly Me "I am an engineer. You are an MCSE. He is a train driver"
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jul 2005
server room

Intel slaps 'wide load' tag on new Itanium

With 9MB of cache strapped to its back, Intel's third generation Itanium processor stands as one of the widest loads in the chip game. Now, the tubby beast can handle a wider data load as well due to an increase in its front side bus (FSB) speed. Intel has boosted Madison's FSB from 400MHz to 667MHz on two new models of the processor. So, you're looking at up to a 65 per cent boost in system bandwidth by picking up the latest and greatest Itanics. This refresh should be the last to precede Intel's release of the dual-core Montecito processor in the fourth quarter. The zippy FSB permits data to move from the processor to other components at 10.6 gigabits per second versus a previous speed of 6.4 gigabits per second. Montecito will use the same FSB when it arrives. In a press release announcing the new part, Intel revealed that Hitachi will use the wider load Itanium 2 chips in BladeSymphony servers due out in the next 30 days. Customers are welcome to try out the blade servers at Hitachi's "Blade Symphony Competency Center" located at its "Harmonious Center of Competency," which opened in January. Trust us, you can't make stuff like that up. The Itanic-based blade market hasn't exactly taken off, as we can't recall a single system being sold. Hitachi, however, is betting on the concept, hoping it can crack the the double-digit system sales marks set by Itanium rivals. Anyhow, Intel insists that it's as happy as ever with Itanic's progress. It has started shipping a 1.66GHz chip with 9MB of cache and the 667 FSB for $4,655 in large quantities [more than two? - ed]. The 1.66GHz version with 6MB of cache and the new FSB goes for $2,194 in units of 1,000. ® Related stories Intel and Dell thrilled to join the dual-core server chip era SGI shares plummet as deal closing malady lingers Can anyone compete with Intel? AMD says, 'No!' IBM and Intel punish supercomputing rivals Fleeing Compaq customer caught by Sun Intel to add memory controllers to future Xeons, Itanics
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jul 2005

$1 domains for the developing world

The developing world could soon see .org domain names for just $1 under a new scheme by non-for-profit registry PIR. From the start of July, PIR (Public Interest Registry) will provide domain-name sellers with a $5 rebate for every domain they sell in Latin America and India. The cost to registrars is $6 per domain per year, and they are usually sold for a few extra dollars to consumers. Registrars will not be obliged to hand the rebate to the end user, but PIR president and CEO Edward Viltz told us he hoped some of it will trickle down to those hoping for their own piece of cyberspace. The scheme thereby works two-fold: it gives registrars a greater incentive to sell .org domains, while at the same time reducing the price of domains for those in some of the world's poorest countries. The scheme is to be carefully evaluated and if it is deemed to have worked, will be rolled out to other areas of the world, Viltz told us. PIR will start selling .org domains in eight different languages from this weekend (23 July). Danish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish and Swedish will be added to existing German domains, opening the first front on a much larger push for "internationalised domain names" or IDNs. All domains registered in the eight new languages from 23 July to 22 August will be locked until 21 September in order to give companies the opportunity to check for any intellectual property infringements, and then will be released onto the market. IDNs are currently not supported by Internet Explorer - by far and away the biggest browser - but the fact it is continuing to lose market share to IDN-supporting browser Firefox, has led many to believe Microsoft will include IDN support in version 7 of Explorer, expected to be available in beta this summer. Viltz acknowledges holes in remain the addition of other languages into the domain name system but hopes that dot-org will lead the way for other registries. He also played down hopes that IDNs could be a vast, untapped market. "Our motivation is simply because this is the right thing to do," he said. PIR is also working on introducing the world's most widely spoken language, Spanish, into its systems but because of the enormous impact this is likely to have (and considering possible conflicts with Portuguese), the organisation is following the "carpenter's process" of measuring twice and cutting once, Viltz said. PIR took over the .org registry in January 2003. It has since gained a popular following, in part thanks to its championing of open-source software through technical partner Afilias. With nearly four million .org domains now in existence, it is also the fifth largest registry on the Internet. All excess funds from the sale of .org domains go to the Internet Society which builds Internet infrastructure and funds workshops, training programmes and development grants related to the Internet in the poorest areas of the world. ® Related stories Nominet faces judicial review over itunes.co.uk ownership New domains must protect trade marks, says WIPO Europe annexes Caribbean islands
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Jul 2005
Cat 5 cable

DoD picks Opteron as weapon of mass simulation

HP has nailed down a major win for its still young line of Opteron-based servers, picking up a cluster contract from the US DoD (Department of Defense).
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jul 2005

Compaq showpiece turns into giant God conduit

HP could whack up to 25,000 workers any minute now - an unsettling premise for employees the world over. The threat of layoffs, however, could prove a tad less disconcerting to some old Compaq hands living in Houston thanks to the grand opening of a massive new church. The $95m Lakewood Church Central Campus has appeared on the spot of a former Compaq advertisement - the Compaq Center known to millions in Houston as the onetime home of the Rockets basketball team. The Rockets have since moved to the Toyota Center and now the 30,000 strong Lakewood congregation is ready to move into its new home. Witness the grandeur of the center here. For those of you who have never been to Texas, here's an idea of how the Lord works in this fine state. The new House of God has three stories, 16,000 seats, two waterfalls, a coffee shop, myriad wireless hotspots, 32 video game kiosks, a nursery, a bookstore and a vault to hold donations. The building will play host to thousands of in-person visitors every Sunday and millions of TV viewers who turn on and tune in to see pastor Joel Osteen. You've probably caught Osteen's picture while traveling past an airport bookstore. He's the cheesy, toothy guy with porn-star hair and a "happy to be here" grin fronting his book "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential." Osteen has sold 3m copies of the tome, which lets him give up a portion of a $200,000 salary. Whatever Osteen makes pales in comparison to the $55m brought in last year by Lakewood. What's the moral of the story? Well, if you are one of the unfortunates clubbed by the multi-millionaire Hurd, then you might find some solace at the old Compaq Center. That Osteen dishes out a fine sermon full of compassion and caring. And, if things get really tough, you can probably hit him up for a buck or two. Next stop? The HP Pavilion - better known as the Fi Arena or the Hurd Hole. Be sure to have a dig around the opulent Lakewood's web site. And remember, "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother." And he said, "All these have I kept from my youth up." Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." [Luke 18:20-2 ] ® Related stories From politics to porn, via Microsoft and the supernatural One third of Americans believe in ghosts Crispy vulture beats bald eagle Church goers celebrate Star Wars Granny was a monkey Go-ahead Rev opens Wi-Fi church How Hilary Rosen learned to stop suing and hate Apple's iPod Tech blogger cybersquats God's Rottweiler Bush twins to join Air Force tech unit in Iraq HP's Hurd lets us pretend Compaq never happened
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jul 2005