19th > July > 2005 Archive

globalisation

IBM evens the keel in Q2

IBM's workers may be safe for another 90 days after the company met its targets for its second quarter. IBM's revenue for the period hit $22.3bn - a 4 per cent drop from the $23.1bn reported in the same quarter last year. IBM's net income proved more impressive, jumping to $1.82bn from $1.74bn in 2004. These income totals exclude a host of unusual charges, including a $1.1bn gain from IBM's sale of its PC business to Lenovo and a $775m settlement with Microsoft. Stellar results? Hardly. They were, however, good enough to put some distance between Q2 and a lackluster Q1, which saw IBM fire thousands of workers. "IBM returned to form in this quarter," said CEO Sam Palmisano. "This performance reinforces our confidence in our business model, and in our mission to apply unique, high-value skills and solutions to transform our clients' businesses." Services helped drive IBM in the quarter, accounting for $12.0bn in revenue. That's a 6 per cent year-over-year rise. Hardware revenue, excluding PC sales, jumped 5 per cent to $5.0bn. IBM's lines of Unix and x86-based servers again performed well while mainframe sales fell 24 per cent. Software sales increased 10 per cent to $3.8bn with DB2 and the WebSphere middleware doing most of the dirty work. IBM's main rival HP is expected to steal the attention of investors and analysts tomorrow when it announces job cuts of its own. ® Related stories SCO moves to limit Smoking Gun Memo damage Rambus reports record revenue Apple profits, revenue up again eBay runs on Sun's servers and IBM's URLs Sun layoffs hit hundreds in US IBM UK mainframe workers train their South African replacements
Ashlee Vance, 19 Jul 2005

HP boss on motivation, human capital, and staff retention

Hewlett Packard staff in the US waiting to hear the extent of the much-anticipated redundancies face the longest night of all. Tomorrow morning, at 8:45am Pacific Time (4:45pm British Summer Time) the company will brief analysts, and the press an hour later, on "details of a company restructuring plan". (Some HP watchers had expected today - but perhaps the printer giant had exhausted its supplies of red toner.) So to get us all through the dark hours ahead, let's hear what CEO Mark Hurd has to say about the importance of motivating his employees. We turned to his gripping 2004 volume The Value Factor: How Global Leaders Use Information for Growth and Competitive Advantage for what Hurd could tell us about the human dimension. Surely, the turnaround artists must know what makes people tick. At only 130 pages, Hurd's book is a slim volume, which we assumed was a sign of brevity and crisp writing - a Good Thing. Unfortunately there's just the solitary reference to motivation, and it refers not to motivating people, but the banks' motivation to consolidate. This is important, Hurd tells us, because, "... the result is that banks need an overwhelming amount of information to be able to understand their customers," It isn't exactly what we'd hoped for, so we cast the net wider, to look at employee issues in the most general terms possible. We didn't have long to wait. As early as Page 20, Hurd acknowledges the value of the staff to a large organization. "Leaders who understand their company's financial operations, customer's needs, supplier and partner relationships and what motivates employees will be the leaders to envision the future of their industries," he writes. And how will they achieve that? "It comes down to information". A few pages along, things look much more promising. "Top managers and frontline employees alike must be empowered," he writes. Yes, yes - that's more like it. Empowered to do what? "Empowered to see the business in the same way - one set of numbers, the right numbers." Ah. In case we missed the point, Hurd explains employee empowerment a little further on. "A company and its employees have access to all the information they need," he declares. Who would have guessed? How about staff retention? That too drew a blank. Of eight references to "retention", none of them refers to retaining people. We tried other buzzwords. What about "human capital"? Alas, The Value Factor has just one reference to the term - and it's a quotation by Mohanbir Sawhney, from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. After which Hurd quickly reminds us: "The valuable potential of intangible assets is unlocked by information." So whatever it is that contributes to "The Value Factor", it isn't employees. In fact in Hurdistan, people are inconvenient encumbrances that simply get in the way of the true goal of beautiful information flows. As Hurd himself said in an interview two years ago, "Great companies align people throughout their organization. But if the information isn't aligned, it's hard to align the people." As with National Public Radio, where technology has replaced progressive politics, for pointy-haired business executives "information" has replaced building great products or services and selling them at a profit. The means have become ends in themselves. Later today Hurd is expected to undertake formidable demonstration of executive firepower, a Shock And Awe campaign designed to impress Wall Street analysts. As to how he plans to turn HP around, the book didn't help us too much. Either Hurd really does have a plan and he isn't saying, or he doesn't, and will focus on "aligning the information" as his top priority. Either way, we don't have long to see who's being aligned and in which direction. ® Related stories Never Hurd of the new HP boss? HP's 15,000 job cuts look imminent 15,000 HP workers get nervous as analyst predicts massive job cuts
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Jul 2005

IT pros need a cuddle

IT pros need a cuddle - or at least an arm around the shoulder - to let them know just how much they're loved. So says a survey by online learning outfit, SkillSoft, which found that more than half of IT workers don't feel valued at work. In fact, three quarters of those quizzed said they were discriminated against because of their age with four in ten saying it was because they were too young. Three in ten said they faced problems at work because they were too old. Oh, and there's other stuff that details why IT pros might be glum but let's not dwell on these. Instead, the good news for techies suffering from low self esteem is that their colleagues rate them higher than they think. For instance, IT pros are "more strategically aware" than their colleagues working in other areas of the business and are more likely to be promoted. Said SkillSoft's head of research Kay Baldwin-Evans: "It's clear that, despite their own perceptions, IT professionals really are valued at work. "But organisations would be well advised to make sure their IT personnel are aware of this and reward them by giving them more opportunities to develop during working hours." Or just give 'em a cuddle - whichever is cheaper. Research published last year found that IT professionals are a miserable lot with one in ten unhappy in their job. ® Related stories IT managers hate buggy software IT pros unhappy at work Brit workers excel at skiving
Tim Richardson, 19 Jul 2005
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PC sales saved by Asia, Latin America

PC sales showed much better growth in the second quarter of 2005 than expected, according to figures from IDC and Gartner. IDC estimates PC sales grew 16.6 per cent in the second quarter. Gartner put the figure slightly lower at 14.8 per cent. Growth worldwide was greater than expected - back in May IDC predicted growth of 12.3 per cent. US sales grew by 11.7 per cent. Sales were pushed by low prices for desktops and continued demand for notebooks. Dell had a good quarter with growth of 24 per cent. IDC noted the company had a bad first quarter but made up for it with 50 per cent growth in Asia/Pacific, Latin America and worldwide notebook sales. HP managed international shipment growth of 23 per cent and kept its leading position in Europe. IDC found Apple also had a good three months with growth of 37 per cent. IDC's worldwide quarterly PC tracker found 46.6m PCs were shipped across the world. Gartner estimated worldwide sales of 48.9m and also credited price pressure on desktops and demand for notebooks with the growth. It saw Dell extend its worldwide lead with 17.9 per cent of the market.® Related stories European governments cautious on IT spend Consumer sales and laptops fuel UK market growth IDC cuts worldwide 2005 PC forecasts Consumers and laps boost euro PC sales
John Oates, 19 Jul 2005
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Cornice readies 4GB 1in HDD

Cornice, the specialist in compact hard disk drives, will begin shipping a 4GB micro-drive later this month, the company said yesterday. It also announced the appointment of a new CEO. The 1in, 4GB Storage Element (SE) is Cornice's first release after resolving its legal battle with Seagate - a fight that saw it agree not to offer drives of 2GB or less. At the time of the settlement, May 2005, Cornice said it would have higher capacity parts out shortly, and here's the first. Designed for small, mobile devices, the SE sports the latest incarnation of Cornice's CrashGuard system. Version 2 includes an auto head-latching system that's triggered when the drive is not actively seeking data or when it detects a sudden downward movement. To boost reliability and simplify the construction, the SE uses only one side of the drive's platter. The 4GB SE ships later this month for $65 when sold in batches of 10,000 units. Separately, Cornice said it had appointed Camillo Martino as President and CEO. Before taking on his new post, Martino was Zoran's COO, and he was hired for his insight into the digital content markets that position brought him, Cornice said. A 20-year IT industry veteran, Martino spent 14 years rising through the ranks at National Semiconductor before joining Zoran. Martino takes over from Kevin Margenis, Cornice's co-founder. Margenis retains his role as company chairman. ® Related stories Cornice to stop making 1-2GB 1in HDDs Western Digital hops on 1in HDD bandwagon Cornice countersues Western Digital Cornice countersues Seagate Western Digital sues Cornice Seagate gets litigious with small hard drive rival
Tony Smith, 19 Jul 2005

Finns probe illegal mobile marketing

Finnish officials are probing illegal direct marketing via SMS, Finnish broadcaster YLE reports. The Data Protection Ombudsman, which operates along with the Ministry of Justice, says it is looking into dozens of companies that recently sent out messages to mobile phones. One investigation includes a promotion by Pohjola. The insurance company sent over 300,000 messages to clients' phones informing them of a new service. Direct electronic advertising without the consent of consumers is illegal in Finland. It is part of the Act on Data Protection in Electronic Communications, which came into force on 1 September 2004. However, there is a difference of view among experts over what constitutes customer relations information and what is advertising. Service provides are allowed to use existing customer’s contact information for marketing purposes. They must, however, give customers the opportunity to object. Related stories TechScape: On marketing and mobile phones Users choke on mobile spam London boozers offer beer via SMS
Jan Libbenga, 19 Jul 2005

Murdoch buys blogs

News Corp is bolstering its newly-formed internet unit by spending $580m on Intermix - the company behind blog site myspace.com. Intermix owns and runs about 40 websites but current best performer is myspace.com. Myspace is a blogging and networking site. It brought in 15.6m viewers in May, according to comscore Media Metrix. The site is growing very fast - in February it had nine million visitors. The sites will be included in Fox's Interactive Media unit. Murdoch hopes it will double visitors to his web properties to 45m unique monthly visitors. Intermix was in the news recently for all the wrong reasons - accused of dodgy distribution of adware. Last month New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer accused it of infecting people's computers with adware programs without informing them. Some programs installed toolbars or special searches or served pop-up ads onto people's machines. The company agreed to pay $7.5m over three years and promised not to distribute any such software again. ® Related stories Intermix offers NY's Spitzer $7.5m to settle adware suit New York sues Intermix over spyware Gates: PC will replace TV, TV will become a giant Google BSkyB sues EDS for breach of contract
John Oates, 19 Jul 2005
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SDK claims world first for perpendicular HDD production

Japan's Showa Denko KK (SDK) has become the first manufacturer in the world to put a hard drive using the perpendicular recording technique into mass production, the company claimed today. The 1.89in platter is pitched at small, mobile devices and offers a storage capacity of 40GB, double the capacity of a platter using the traditional longitudinal recording system. SDK also said it had begun production of a 0.85in model. Perpendicular recording increases disk capacity by aligning the millions of magnetic domains at 90° to the disk's surface rather than parallel to it. Almost all hard drive manufacturers are working on perpendicular product, regarded as the next stage in the evolution of the HDD. Toshiba, Seagate and Hitachi have all announced perpendicular drives, but as yet none have shipped product. Seagate, for example, is expected to ship its 160GB, 2.5in hard drive in Q4, targeting notebooks. Toshiba is expected to begin mass production of a perpendicular 1.8in, 80GB drive shortly. ® Related stories Seagate pledges first 2.5in perpendicular HDD Seagate promises perpendicular drives Hitachi headstand sets new HD density record Toshiba unveils 80GB 'iPod drive'
Tony Smith, 19 Jul 2005

Want top-notch net porn? Try ITV News

Independent UK news outfit ITN has escaped sanction by watchdog Ofcom after admitting to broadcasting a link to a XXX website during a 9 June news bulletin. The full scale of the outrage is explained in Ofcom's broadcast bulletin number 39 (PDF), released yesterday. The fun-packed issue declares: A viewer complained that a video clip about children playing on railway lines displayed a website address for a site containing hard core pornography. The viewer had accessed the site on the assumption that it was related to the news item and was shocked by the content. For its part, ITN explained: ITN said that it had been aware before transmission that the video clip included a visible website address and understood the need to check the site’s content. It had attempted to enter the website, but was denied access. It therefore presumed that the site was no longer active and that there was no need to obscure the address on screen. Fair enough, simple mistake, nothing to see here, move along... But hold on a minute, the reason the news team could not access the website is this: However it subsequently realised that access had been denied by the firewall on ITN’s own internal computer system, which prevents access to such sites. Sigh. In light of ITN's evident lack of web savvy, we at El Reg hereby invite the entire ITV News research staff to a two-hour seminar at Vulture Central entitled "A beginner's guide to the internet: what it is and how it works." There will then be a short recess for organic virgin thigh-rolled prawn* sandwiches and wheat grass juice after which the participants can gain further enlightenment by browsing some of our own favourite sites on kids, railway lines and hot Dutch girl-on-girl-on-girl-on-boy. Firewall permitting, naturally. Meanwhile, we accept ITN's apology on behalf of an outraged Middle England: ITN accepted that the website address should not have been included in the broadcast, and apologised for the error which had led to its inclusion in the lunchtime bulletin. The importance of stringent checks has been reinforced to editorial staff. That's right, the next time you need to check a racy url, leave the ITN building, proceed to the nearest internet cafe and stringently access the domain in question before running back to the office shouting: "Don't run VT, for the love of all that's Holy..." ® Bootnote *Vegetarian option: organic virgin thigh-rolled prawn sandwiches without the organic virgin thigh-rolled prawns. Please request in advance. Related stories IWF cracks down on illegal porn at work Smut filter in Dick-pulling outrage Porn filters have a field day on Horniman Museum
Lester Haines, 19 Jul 2005
Broken CD with wrench

Toshiba invests in holographic disc firm

Toshiba has invested in Optware, the company developing a holographic optical disc claimed to offer significantly greater storage capacity than next-generation formats like Toshiba's own, HD DVD. Toshiba was one of four companies who together pumped $14m into Optware earlier this month. The other investors are Japanese banks and venture capital companies. Optware's proposed Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD) is the same size as a DVD but holds more than 1TB of information - more than 200 times the capacity of a typical DVD. HVD is faster too, Optware claims, reading data at 1Gbps, 40 times DVD's throughput. HVD uses a colinear system - essentially the reference and read laser beams are projected along the same axis rather than at an angle through a single objective lens. The upshot is a much simpler system that's better suited to disc media, is smaller and more compatible with DVD and CD. It's that compatibility which attracted Toshiba's interest, according to the company's HD DVD Promotion Division chief, Hiroharu Satoh, in a statement. "HVD has a glittering promise to be a future optical recording media which promises our customers smooth migration from HD DVD," he added. HVD is backed by half a dozen consumer electronics firms, including Fuji Photo Film, who together formed the HVD Alliance in February this year. The Alliance, working with Europe-based standards-defining body ECMA, is developing specifications for HVD-ROM and HVD-RW products with a view to submitting completed specifications to the ISO by the end of next year. ® Related stories Sharp develops 100GB optical disc Toshiba and Microsoft tighten the knot Blu-ray, HD DVD merger talks scrapped TDK touts 100GB recordable Blu-ray Disc Toshiba unveils 45GB HD DVD Alliance touts holographic disc 'revolution'
Tony Smith, 19 Jul 2005

Gates: You just can't get the staff

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has again complained about the shortage of computing graduates in the US. Speaking at Microsoft's Research Faculty Summit to an audience of academics Gates said it was important to "capture the imaginations of the next generation of computing innovators by exposing them to inspirational research...". Gates was joined on stage by Maria Klawe, dean of engineering and applied science at Princeton. Both agreed that industry and academia need to work together to solve the problem. Gates said when he reviewed projects within Microsoft the topic of hiring and headcount always comes up. Microsoft Research announced the nomination process for its Fellowship Program which will make grants of $200,000 over two years to five professors in the first three years of their careers. Perhaps Gates could have asked the world's youngest Microsoft engineer - newly-qualifed Arfa Karim Randhawa who was just nine when she passed her exam. The girl from Pakistan asked Gates why he didn't employ people of her age when she met him last week. She also asked him why there were so few women on the Redmond campus and gave him a poem she had written about his life. More details on the Seattle Post Intelligencer here. ® Related stories US visas going begging Gates talks, but can't walk, his Tablet PC pledge India calls for big increase in US IT visas
John Oates, 19 Jul 2005

Gizmoville buzzes to iPod vibrator

Tech DigestTech Digest   Obligatory iPod Accessory of the Week: Audi-Oh Vibrator for your iPod Yes, that's right, someone's created a wearable vibrator that works in harmony with your music player. Strap the silicone butterfly in place, plug it into your favourite music player and get jiggy with the musical beat. It will also work in rhythm with external noises from stereos or club sound systems, so you'll be able to get into the... er... groove and get off on it all at the same time. Ah, the joys of modern living... If that's not an example of technology making life better, we don't know what is. Get yours from the excellently-named Grand Opening for $70. Traditional 'how did that get on eBay' Story: Pac-man Cocktail Cabinet Forget running round a maze gobbling pills. We're happier lounging about at home sipping a cool Mojito. Ye Gods, now we can do both! How? With this game-tastic cocktail table, that's how. It's a fully working arcade machine that plays Pac-Man, Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man, yet you can also stand drinks on it. Now that's progress. The seller claims that they can add extra games on request too. OTT Home Entertainment stuff: Sharp's 'watch two TV channels at the same time' LCD TV screen When we were in Japan last year we noted that Sharp were doing some pretty interesting things with LCDs. One in particular was a way of superimposing a "parallax barrier" onto the LCD to make the source light separate into right and left directions. Sounds dull but its key application - that two people, sitting on opposite sides of the room can watch two separate things on the same screen simultaneously - is pretty amazing. Interestingly, it seems that Sharp is about to unleash that technology to the masses with the first dual display screen set roll of its production lines later this year. The fundamental flaw, though, is that two separate audio channels delivered into a room at the same time might be tricky. So it is either headphones for one party, or more likely people will use the screen to watch TV and surf the web simultaneously. Vaguely useful Gadget of the week: mytan intelligent sun cream dispenser It is 30° out there and many pasty-faced anaemic looking Brits are already on their way to morphing into lobsters. Still, Ed Phillips, one of the bright sparks at Brunel University, has come up with a smart way of preventing sunburn. mytan is basically an intelligent sun lotion dispenser. It determines a person's skin type, the sun's intensity, the time they plan to spend in the sun and then dispenses the necessary strength sun lotion to prevent them from burning. Users do have indulge the gadget a bit by inputting skin colour, hair colour, eye colour, quantity of freckles and colour of skin when tanned, but once this is done the information is stored for good. mytan's in-built UV index sensor then measures the sun's rays and in tandem with information about how long a person intends to spend outside works out and dispenses the necessary strength sunscreen to help people tan safely. The inventor Ed Philips continues: "mytan is portable and small enough to hold comfortably in your hand. In addition, mytan holds up to one week's worth of sunscreen and it can be easily re-filled with sunscreen sachets." Here's hoping that mytan gets a commercial release soon. Child-unfriendly gadget of the week: Verify Location Sazo Turn your kids against you by refusing to kit them out with the latest mobile phone and hand them this little gadget instead. The Sazo is about the size of a credit card and comes with a GPS (Global Positioning System) on board which lets you keep tabs on the whereabouts of your tots at all times. The Verify Location Sazo means parents can pinpoint the fruit of their loins' location to within a few metres via the internet on a PC or a mobile phone. There are two version of the Sazo and the more expensive one can also be used to make and receive voice calls. The Sazo also features a panic button which, if pressed, automatically sends a text message to the parent. The device costs £100 with a monthly service charge starting at £10.   Quick Picks The only gay in the toyshop - Little Britain talking dolls on their way. Star Trek shuttlecraft on eBay Archos crosses a personal media player with a home digital video recorder Unreleased Hendrix track on eBay World's smallest hi-fi Solar powered gadgets round-up Bluetooth Squirrel - It even answers your calls for you Loads more of this stuff at Tech Digest, Shiny Shiny, Green consumer blog HippyShopper and Bayraider, which highlights the best and worst of online auction sites.
Tech Digest, 19 Jul 2005
homeless man with sign

Systems Union trading in line with expectations

Systems Union Group has updated the Stock Exchange ahead of its results statement in mid-August. Revenues and operating profits are in line with market expectations and its new customers and sales pipeline is ahead of last year. The board intends to pay a dividend of 0.75p per share.® Related stories Microsoft Business Solutions gets new UK head Pegasus Opera sales beating forecasts Systems Union touts reverse profits warning
John Oates, 19 Jul 2005

Wanadoo UK punts 2 meg broadband

Wanadoo UK - the ISP formerly known as Freeserve and due to morph into Orange next year - is doubling the speed of its broadband service. New punters signing up to the service can now get 2 meg broadband for £17.99. "With this new offer we want to demonstrate our continuing commitment to giving our customers more for their money by offering our fastest speeds as standard," said Wanadoo chief exec Eric Abensur. Wanadoo's existing broadband users (716,000 at the end of March, btw) aren't so lucky. If they want to double the speed of their service they will need to shell out £20 a time for the upgrade. ® Related stories Wanadoo UK domain 'suspended' Wanadoo to blow 200m on Orange name change Wanadoo brand to be scrapped Wanadoo broadband - 'you can go faster for less'
Tim Richardson, 19 Jul 2005

Fatalities rise in speed camera hotspots

The UK government recently suspended the deployment of more speeds cameras pending the outcome of of a University College London probe into whether they actually save lives. We have no doubt, then, that the investigators will be taking a close interest in the Motorcycle News revelation that road deaths have risen dramatically in those areas favoured with the most Gatsos. According to the MCN figures - joyfully reported in today's Sun - Hertfordshire saw a 24 per cent rise in speed camera numbers between 2003 and 2004. In the same period, road fatalities rose by 34 per cent. Likewise in Wiltshire, camera numbers went up 14 per cent, and those killed 22 per cent. In County Durham, meanwhile, a lone Gatso oversaw a 22 per cent drop in fatalities. The Sun is also delighted to report that in North Wales, where "Gatso fan Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has a league table for traffic cops", 56,247 speeding tickets were issued although this had little effect on safety, with an 18 per cent increase in road deaths. The reason? Simple, says safety expert Paul Smith: “Crashes are avoided by making a safe plan based on what you see. Cameras move attention away from hazards to speedometers.” ® Related stories UK suspends speed camera deployment No hiding place? UK number plate cameras go national Speed camera clocks 81mph school bus terror run
Lester Haines, 19 Jul 2005

Online gaming addiction smokes out Evil Dragon

An armed fugitive's fondness for online games led to his capture by Taiwan police last week. Cops had been searching for Chang Hsi-ming (AKA Evil Dragon) on suspicion of murder, illegal possession of weapons and multiple kidnappings for more than a year, Reuters reports. A $300K reward for information leading to Chang's capture remained unclaimed. It was only after detectives discovered Chang's fondness for playing an online role-playing game called Heaven that they hit on the approach that enabled them to track down his hideout. After unmasking his pseudonym and tracking his location from the Internet Protocol address of his PC, police sent 130 police and two armoured vehicles over to Chang's suspected hideout in central Taiwan. During the subsequent gun battle, Chang and a police officer were wounded. Both were taken to hospital where they are expected to make a full recovery. Chang's bodyguard, Lin Tai-heng, received gunshot wounds to the head and was taken to Taichung's Kuang Tien General Hospital immediately following the raid, The Taipei Times reports. ® Related links Analysis of media reports on the raid Related stories China opens net addiction clinic Online gamers targeted in Korean MSN hack attack Onliner gamer stabbed over 'stolen' cybersword Gaming rocked by GTA smut revelation Grand Theft Auto firm faces 'murder training' lawsuit
John Leyden, 19 Jul 2005

Growth slows as Virgin Mobile 'thrives'

Virgin Mobile - the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which is the UK's fifth largest mobile outfit - reported today that it "continues to grow strongly and thrive", according to a stock exchange statement. The number of active punters grew 21 per cent over the last year from 3.4m in June 2004 to 4.1m at the end of last month. Virgin Mobile (which is predominantly a pre-pay business but earlier this year unveiled a contract service) also reported that it attracted 77,000 new punters in the three months to the end of June - half the number it attracted during the same period last year. Likewise, the amount of cash it received from each punter (ARPU) is also down, falling from £142 in June 2004 to £123 at the end of last month. "This change primarily reflects the impact of the Ofcom interconnect rate cuts [call charges between operators] in September 2004," explained Virgin Mobile in a statement. Still, none of this appears to have dampened the enthusiasm of Virgin Mobile chief exec Tom Alexander. "These results demonstrate that Virgin Mobile continues to grow strongly and thrive in a competitive market. We are looking forward to the rest of the financial year - a period of continuing strong customer expansion and superior revenue growth." By late morning shares in Virgin Mobile were up 3p at 249p. ® Related stories Apple to muscle in on MVNO market? easyMobile wins 'bad faith' domain case against Carphone Bright future for Europe's MVNOs No-frills MVNOs to steal market share Ofcom 'fails to support consumers' over mobile charges Virgin trials mobile TV Virgin Mobile ups profit
Tim Richardson, 19 Jul 2005

EA signs Verizon, Sprint for mobile games

US mobile carriers Verizon and Sprint have inked deals to sell Electronic Arts games to their subscribers. Verizon, part owned by Vodafone, will offer the likes of Madden NFL, NBA Live, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, FIFA and The Sims to subscribers of its V-Cast high-speed service. Sprint will offer Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Pogo.com. EA has said it will ship 20-25 titles for mobile phones this year, yielding around $25m in sales. The games publishing giant wants to make big inroads into mobile gaming, the fastest-growing segment of the games market. In the US, EA is someway behind market leader Jamdat, with a share of under five per cent of the market to its rival's 15-20 per cent share, according to analysts cited by the Reuters newsagency. Jamdat offers the likes of Scrabble, Bejeweled, Tony Hawk's Underground and Jamdat Bowling. It has the rights to develop a mobile phone version of Tetris. It has been suggested that EA wants to buy Jamdat, and yesterday's deals with Sprint and Verizon may make that easier - EA's shares were up 43 cents at $57.89 this morning, while JAMDAT was down $1.24 to $27.76. Both stocks are traded on Nasdaq. ® Related stories Online gaming addiction smokes out Evil Dragon British jobs being shipped to Ind America ? Playing video games 'good for your health' Hillary Clinton demands GTA smut enquiry Gaming rocked by GTA smut revelation
Tony Smith, 19 Jul 2005
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Emperor Hurd decimates HP

HP today bowed to the will of Wall Street and revealed plans to decimate its workforce by 14,500 people - a figure no doubt thought more palatable than 15,000. Employees around the globe will be affected by the move with most of the cuts hitting support staffers. Those working in HP's sales and research and development departments should retain their jobs. In addition to the layoffs, HP will rework its retirement structure here in the US to freeze benefits for some. "After a thorough review of our business, we have formulated a plan that will enable HP to begin delivering its full potential," said Mark Hurd, the CEO at HP. "We can perform better - for our customers and partners, our employees and our shareholders - and we will." These much anticipated firings stand as Hurd's first major shift at HP. The changes, however, aren't really that fresh. They mimic a strategy employed by Hurd at NCR where he also trimmed support staff, altered retirement packages and cut jobs. HP will need six quarters to cull all 14,500 employees - 10 per cent of its current workforce. It expects to save $1.9bn annually as a result, starting in 2007. That figure includes $1.6bn in labor costs and $300m in benefits savings. In fiscal 2006, HP looks to save anywhere between $900m and $1.05bn. Analysts have long put pressure on HP to squeeze more profits out of its PC and corporate hardware businesses. Having the ultra-efficient Dell as a cost rival and IBM as services competitor has proved difficult for the new HP. Today's actions are a clear response to such pressure. During a conference call with analysts, Hurd declined to offer specifics on what regions would witness the most cuts. HP, however, did say that HR, finance and IT support operations would thin significantly. "Keep in mind that we have many details to work through and additional details will be provided in the coming months as is appropriate," Hurd said. In the US, HP will begin offering voluntary early retirement packages to qualified staff. Starting next year, it will also curtail pension and retiree medical-program benefits for workers who do not meet more restrictive age and years of service requirements. On the plus side, HP will up its 401k plan matching from 4 per cent to 6 per cent. Despite constant pounding from analysts to provide more details about the moves, Hurd would not budge. Instead, he delivered a few trite phrases to reassure Wall Street. "We think we have done a lot of work here," he said. "I think we know what we are doing." At no point did Hurd address the human cost of these decisions. His predecessor Carly Fiorina learned well how hard motivating a beaten down army can be. Many workers must question the motives and intelligence of the job cuts. Does Hurd know HP well enough to make such reductions? Will he please investors at the expense of customers? "There was a lot of work done prior to my coming," he said. "All we did was try and galvanize it upon my arrival." ® Related stories HP boss on motivation, human capital, and staff retention Compaq showpiece turns into giant God conduit HP carries home Dell CIO from exec swap meet Analysts circle HP with CEO's hammer expected to come down
Ashlee Vance, 19 Jul 2005

Industry and govt must converge on convergence

The UK must do more if it is to become a world leader in technology convergence, according to report published today. Intellect, the UK's technology industry trade association, is calling on government and industry to get together to create the right environment, in terms of regulation, policy and infrastructure, to support convergence, its term for the increasingly interconnected worlds of content, networks and devices. The trade body surveyed the members of its Digital Convergence Council (IDCC), a group of around 50 tech and comms suppliers, asking how ready the UK is to make the transition to a truly digital economy. Left untended, Intellect predicts the UK will be able to provide consumers with any content on any device, anywhere, by 2012. The problem is that by then, plenty of other countries will be able to do similar things, so it reckons that the process needs a bit of a kick start. It identified six areas that indicate of how ready the UK is for this digital world: government and regulatory; commercial; infrastructure; content; devices and consumers. Each was scored on a scale of one to ten to reflect how ready that area is now. Commerce, infrastructure and content all scored over five, but devices ranked bottom of the heap, scoring just 3.7 out of ten. An Intellect spokeswoman explained: "For devices, there is still a lot to do in terms of security, ease of use and interoperability. But we have strong building blocks already in place - especially in content. Even before any official switch-over, 65 per cent of the population has digital TV and two-thirds of radio stations are digital." The report makes three key recommendations: Industry in general needs to increase the dialogue between companies. The government needs to work with industry to create the right kind of regulatory and legislative environment. Finally, it says regulators must work with each other, particularly to avoid regulatory conflict. The report highlights the creation of Ofcom, "a converged regulator", but adds that so far, it is the only example of this kind of thinking from government. In a debate following the launch of the report, the recommendations from Intellect were broadly welcomed by industry representatives. However, Chris Francis from IBM sounded a note of caution: "We need to be careful that we don't regard convergence as just a consumer issue. The edge of the network might be moving with the introduction of RFID tags, for example, but the first thing the consumer wants is not to notice." ® Related stories Vodafone takes the fight to VoIP TV licence needed for TV-to-mobile services Toshiba slams Blu-ray/ HD DVD convergence claims
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Jul 2005

Write down your password today

Security guru Bruce Schneier has backed calls from Microsoft's Jesper Johansson urging users to write down their passwords. In years gone by scribbling down passwords on Post-It notes was often cited as a top security mistake but the sheer volume of passwords people are obliged to remember means people often use easily-guessed login details, another security faux-pas. Schneier - well known for his original thinking and ability to apply common sense to security issues - advocates a low-tech solution to the password conundrum. "People can no longer remember passwords good enough to reliably defend against dictionary attacks, and are much more secure if they choose a password too complicated to remember and then write it down," Schneier writes in his latest Cryptogram newsletter. Using a password database (such as his own free PasswordSafe utility) is one option. But Schneier is also enthusiastic about a much more low-tech approach - think of difficult-to-guess passwords, write them down and keep them on a bit of paper in your wallet. "We're all good at securing small pieces of paper. I recommend that people write their valuable passwords down on a small piece of paper, and keep it with their other valuable small pieces of paper: in their wallet," he writes. The technique could be modified for a little extra security. "Obscure it somehow if you want added security: write "bank" instead of the URL of your bank, transpose some of the characters, leave off your userid. This will give you a little bit of time if you lose your wallet and have to change your passwords. But even if you don't do any of this, writing down your impossible-to-memorize password is more secure than making your password easy to memorize," he concludes. ® Related stories Fight fraud not ID theft Banks 'wasting millions' on two-factor authentication Americans are pants at password security Passwords? We don't need no stinking passwords Women are crap with PIN numbers - shock survey
John Leyden, 19 Jul 2005

O2 wins £390m ambulance deal

O2 has won a £390m deal to provide a new secure communications system - Airwave - for ambulance services in England. The contract is due to run for 13 years and includes the provision of kit and network access. Airwave is a national digital radio network specifically for emergency services. It has already been rolled out to all 51 police forces in England, Scotland and Wales and is also under consideration by the Fire Service. The new digital radio service will replace the existing analogue systems currently used by ambulance services, and is currently in service at the Hereford & Worcester Ambulance Service NHS Trust and the Mersey Regional Ambulance Service. The rest will be hooked up by the end of 2008. Ambulance services in Scotland and Wales are due to decide whether they are to sign up to Airwave "in the near future", said O2 in a statement today. If all the UK's emergency services sign up to Airwave more than 250,000 people could end up using the network. Said Health Minister Lord Warner: "The ambulance service has made excellent improvements in patient care over the last few years. It is essential that ambulance crews have the best equipment to back them up. "This new digital system will provide a more reliable service and will help bring further improvements to patient care." By early afternoon shares in O2 were up 2.75p at 139p. ® Related stories Clarke's ID card cost laundry starts to break surface In case of emergency, dial 'ICE' Aussie ambulances to get Wi-Fi
Tim Richardson, 19 Jul 2005

O2 XM music phone

First UK ReviewFirst UK Review Intel's XScale processors have traditionally been incorporated into PDAs and smart phones, and promoted by the chip giant as the ideal CPU to handle the heavy lifting these devices' operating systems require. But a few years back, Intel decided it ought to widen XScale's target market. The result was 'Manitoba', a feature-phone platform designed to show handset makers that XScale is just as relevant to lower-end devices as it is to high-end ones. Manitoba was launched early 2003, and Intel named Orange as a carrier as a partner.
Tony Smith, 19 Jul 2005

Don't tag workers, urges union

The European Commission is being urged to outlaw electronic tagging in the workplace by companies that monitor their employees' every move. The GMB union - which has some 700,000 members - wants Eurocrats to introduce legislation against the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and GPS satellite-linked wearable computers to tag and track staff in the workplace. Last month the GMB said that employers were "dehumanising" workers by making them slaves to computers. Some RFID systems involve computers worn on the arm and are being used increasingly by warehouse workers who follow instructions from their onboard PC. "The only role for the worker is to do as the computer order requires," said the GMB. "These devices calculate how long it takes to go from one part of the warehouse to the other and what breaks the workers need and how long they need to go to the toilet. "Any deviation from these times is not tolerated. In effect these devices to dispatch goods to supermarkets and shops have made workers the aid to the computer rather than the other way round. The only functions that the human do are the bits that have not yet been automated." Speaking last month GMB Acting General Secretary Paul Kenny said the union was "no Luddite organisation". But he added that the union "would not stand idly by to see our members reduced to automatons". "The use of this technology needs to be redesigned to be an aide to the worker rather than making the worker its slave," he said. The union intends to lobby the EC to raise awareness and seek a change in the law. ® Related stories Industry and govt must converge on covergence Drugs, phonecams, privacy and GPS tracking Watching us through the Sorting Door GPS tech to rein in UK's speeding motorists Your fingerprints are everywhere Germans plan biometric hooligan clampdown
Tim Richardson, 19 Jul 2005

Copycat BT doubles broadband speeds

BT has doubled the speed of its entry-level broadband service just hours after Wanadoo UK announced plans to offer new punters 2 megs for £17.99 a month. Responding to Wanadoo's move earlier today, the UK's dominant telco said it is boosting the speed (and not the price) of its no-frills Broadband Basic product. From tomorrow all new and existing punters should be able to get 2 meg as standard with existing punters upgraded automatically free of charge. In a dig at Wanadoo's £20 upgrade fee for existing users BT bigwig Gavin Patterson said: "Today's announcement creates a standard of a minimum broadband speed of 2Mb for all our retail broadband services. We won't be asking existing customers on Broadband Basic to do anything or pay anything for this upgraded service." Although BT has doubled the speed of the no frills package, it has kept the its monthly usage limit at 1 gig. Today's speed upgrade follows a similar move by BT in February. ® Related stories BT in 2Mb broadband giveaway BT 2 meg punters hacked off Wanadoo UK punts 2 meg broadband
Tim Richardson, 19 Jul 2005

Apple bounces back into US PC vendor top four

Apple took 4.5 per cent of the US PC market during Q2, establishing it as the fourth most successful vendor of the quarter, figures from market watcher IDC reveal. The Mac maker still has a long way to go to challenge Dell and HP, respectively the number one and number two firms in the US chart, with 34.7 per cent and 18.7 per cent of the market. However, Apple is within shouting distance of Gateway - the number three player's Q2 share came to six per cent, IDC said. Lenovo's acquisition of IBM's PC business put it in fifth place, with a 4.1 per cent share. Still, it's good news for Apple. Once one of world's the top three personal computer vendors, the Mac maker has for the last decade or so languished outside the top ten, let alone the top five vendors, with a share that has in the past fallen to under two per cent. Apple chief Steve Jobs noted a few years ago that the company only needed to lift its market share a few percentage points to realise big gains in revenue. With a shift toward lower-priced products like the Mac Mini, that's less true these days, but Apple is at least moving in the right direction. The test will come during the current quarter and the next as the impact of Apple's planned shift to Intel processors becomes apparent. Will buyers hold back to await Intel-based systems, or can Apple persuade them that PowerPC-based purchases are not about to become obsolete? Apple shipped 658,000 units in the US, with a year-on-year growth rate of 33 per cent - well above the average figure, 11.7 per cent. Worldwide, Apple experienced a 37 per cent increase in shipments, with European and Asia-Pacific sales growing by more than twice the global rate, IDC said. The Asia-Pacific figure excludes Japanese sales, where Apple fared poorly, a fact it admitted during its recent quarterly results conference. Globally, Apple didn't make the top five, pushed out by Acer and Fujitsu/Fujitsu-Siemens. IDC puts Apple's success down to the iPod halo effect and the availability of the Mac Mini. "The company appears well positioned for education and consumer sales going into the second half of the year," the researcher forecast. ® Related stories PC sales saved by Asia, Latin America Apple iTunes sells half a billion songs Apple to muscle in on MVNO market? Apple profits, revenue up again Motorola 'to debut' iTunes phone at UK's V Festival Apple updates Mac OS X Tiger
Tony Smith, 19 Jul 2005

MOD greenlights wind farms

The Ministry of Defence has agreed that wind farms can be built on its land near the Eskdalemuir seismic array site, which monitors the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The decision was taken after a University of Keele study demonstrated that the turbines would not interfere with the sensitive equipment, provided they are not built within 17.5km of the facility. Until now, the MOD has banned the construction of wind farms within 80km of the station. The decision will give a considerable boost to the government's pledge to generate 10 per cent of the UK's electricity from renewable sources by 2010. According to a report in The Herald a wind farm on the MOD's land could generate up to a gigawatt of electricity, doubling the capacity of Britain's wind farms. However, the MOD continues to oppose wind farm construction on land elsewhere, citing concerns that the windmills will interfere with radar data. The problem is that the turbines can create false images on radar screens, appearing to be aircraft nearby. The British Wind Energy Association is starting tests on technology that could help filter these ghost images, potentially freeing up more MOD land for wind farms, The Herald said. ® Related stories Solar-powered cars to race 2,500 miles HP a 'toxic tech giant' says Greenpeace Scientists push bacteria to quadruple hydrogen production
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Jul 2005

Could free massages solve IT skills shortage?

LettersLetters As a nine-year old Pakistani girl passes the exam to become a Microsoft Certified Professional, Bill Gates publicly bemoans the fact that there just aren't enough decent software engineers out there. You, as always, have a few suggestions for Mr. Gates to consider: Why would anyone go into the Computer field these days. Just look at the recent round of [Anticipated, not confirmed - Ed] layoffs at HP. The constant outsourcing of jobs to India has convinced students there is no future in the Computer field. And BTW Mr. Gates HP is laying off 14,500 people so that should be enough to fill your need or is it that you are wanting people who will work for nothing. I will agree with you there that there is a shortage of people willing to work for nothing. Lisa Could Mr.Gates recruitment problem stem from the fact that he has made computers too easy to use, and as such there are less people needing or wanting to play around with the OS and writing their own applications? And those who do want to do this, have moved to Linux, with it's open licensing and free protocols? Alex If Gates cant find the staff, then perhaps he should have a look at why no-one studies engineering anymore. Could it be that your job will be outsourced/offshored after just a few years post graduation, or the fact that you will earn less through your life eventually retiring at about 45 as you are considered too old for the 'IT' game. If the money is there, the kids will go back to University to study these subjects as they did between 1995-2001.The fact of the matter is there is no place for new-grads in I.T and the money is poor compared to other science subjects. Hans Hmm, maybe they're all dropping out before finishing their courses, to set up their own companies, Bill? Regards, Mike Could the relentless downward drift of Engineering salaries in equivalent purchasing power over the last 20 years have anything at all to do with this "problem"? There seem to be plenty of Doctors and Lawyers coming out of the academic mill. I suspect the problem is self-generating. More imported engineers/programmers equals lower average salaries equals fewer folk interested in the 5 years of brain sweat needed to earn a technical degree. It's hard work and it pays slightly less each year. What a coincidence that there aren't "enough" US citizens graduating with technical degrees. Retired (early) Engineer Hah! Perhaps there's no shortage, but the staff greatly prefer to work for organisations and companies that embrace open source and competition (or more accurately co-opetition)? Or perhaps there is a real shortage, in which case the DMCA and software patents must have played a part. People used to learn by hacking. Today, cryptography makes that well-nigh impossible, and the DMCA threatens anyone brave enough to try with several years in a USA jail. Bill, you helped make the bed, now it's yours to lie in. Nigel A bunch of industry types have tried to get together to define spyware. A brave effort, and one that you were happy to add you tuppence worth to: The scope of the definition of spyware is so broad that it leaves malware open as a service mark for Internet Explorer and other Microsoft products. Merton Spyware and other potentially unwanted technologies are those that "impair users' control over material changes that affect their user experience, privacy, or system security; use of their system resources, including what programs are installed on their computers; or collection, use, and distribution of their personal or otherwise sensitive information." Have they noticed that this definition includes, as many of us have said for years, the operating system of a certain Redmond WA company? Chris Who considers a port scanner to by unwanted, let alone mal/spyware? I'm gona be really angry if Nmap gets blacklisted, whats next Nessus? Matt From spyware to virus writers, and the rewards offered to those who help track them down. That was $250,000 worth of reward, in case you missed it the first time. Could a new business model be in the works here? So, the virus author lands a sweet gig and his buddies get a pile of money? Looks like getting caught was the best thing that could have happened to this group of delinquents. I'm sure glad they caught the only juvenile capable of writing malware, because this might actually encourage this behavior. Matt Here are a few better ways for MS to spend their money instead of paying some rats. 1. pay those who've been affected by the viruses. Since they charge for their "OS" they could as well pay some damages. 2. pay some people to fix "well known bugs" in less then 2 years 3. pay the virus authors to work for MS and report the bugs only to MS so they can be fixed before they become public 4. rebrand their OS from "windows" to "holes" and help people make an informed choice 5. offer the people who have suffered because of the security lapses of MS t-shirts that say "my money went to Microsoft and all i got is this zombie pc" caseta There's no doubt that virus writers do cause a certain amount of mayhem and there are real costs to businesses. It costs us around $4000 a year in subscription and employee costs to make sure all our workstations are patched. So yes, punishment is needed, but this wasn't the work of organised crime, no identities were stolen and used for illicit shopping, so we don't need to give the writer the kind of sentence we normally reserve for rapists and drug dealers. As for the reward, it proves it works - apparently the cost of friendship has a relatively low price.. Andy A new name for a new threat to cyber-citizens: Phlooding. Oh yes. If a word starts with an F, it is now fair, sorry, phair game to be used to encapsulate some kind of online nasty for easy media consumption: Overloading authentication and log-in programs? Should have been called "Phlogging," not "Phlooding." David Phlooding is just a high-tech version of what we in low-tech calls jamming. The main difference is: Phlooding prevents users from logging on to the network, and does not interrupt those already running. Jamming kills all communications, both for those already on, as well as those trying to log on. It is trivial to protect against Phlooding. Just a simple internal firewall to quarantine any access point that makes more than 20 attempts a minute. And after 2 minutes open again. The the Phlooders will be Phooled. BTW: Most enterprise quality access points has a local cache of credentials, just in case the central server does not answer. So it seems the phocking phlooding only works against small companies with very cheap equipment. Povl Given that presumably these terms originated from "phone phreaking", by now the connection with phones is pretty tenuous, but they now have a life of their own. Rather like the press's love of sticking "-gate" on the end of words (Cheriegate), even though there had been no break-in or bugging involved. On the other hand, the ideal candidate, "Kofigate", following Clare Short's revelations, never made an appearance ... Regards, Mike IT professionals, in the face of all the trials and tribulations they endure as part of their jobs, can probably be forgiven for needing a cuddle. We're not sure about a full body massage, though: I can imagine that the techs in Vulture Central are demi-gods or if not, that the BOFH will see to it, but in the real world, where beancounters rule, the fight for more budget, working crazy hours for little recognition and having to put out fires left and right, things are just that tad bit different. Execs who make ludicrous demands of technology they don't understand, make people jump through hoops because they don't want to fork out the money for essential equipment and the screaming stress that comes from the knowledge that there is precisely one [1] drive holding key company information that when it gets lost, not if, will mean the whole joint might as well close down [and having pointed that fact out month after month makes no difference], make working in the IT industry something akin to working on a 1950s Kolchoz and daddy just pissed off the local party apparatchik by asking for a bottle of milk extra to feed the kids. A hug? Make that a full-body massage and three sessions a day in a health spa. Jorge One in ten IT professionals not enjoying their job? How many Burger King employees enjoy their work? They get paid less too. John Some US citizens have taken exception to our coverage of the US and the UN and their discussions about the future of the internet. We're not sure these are the most measured of all the responses that came in: The anti -American slant in your articles is amazing! Do you want something as corrupt as Kofi Annan's mafia taking over the internet? Let's see, the UN is the organization that has allowed Libya to take over the Human Rights Commission and has some of the most repressive regimes in the world on it... Then there's the oil-for-food scandal that is still unraveling... It was only investigated at the behest of the USA & UK govts! Are you sure you want these crooks running the internet? Think about the effectiveness of other UN programs, and you might think again! LOL! The real danger here is that the US forges ahead w/ our own version of the internet, w/ US Govt maintaining control, while the rest of the world is left to 'co-ordinate amongst themselves'.... This would ultimately lead to a de-facto present situation (which has run amazingly well!) I mean, do you really want the French govt to have a say in how the internet is run? Let them stick to fu*king up France & leave the rest of us alone!) BTW, from your article; "Perhaps rather conveniently, all the staff at the US government body in charge of this controversial role, the NTIA, has gone on a two-day "off-site retreat" and won't be unavailable until Monday. Fancy that. ®" Won't be unavailable???? Who taught you grammer in school?? I thought you were British, and considering you invented the language, you would have a better handle on things.... Two negatives=a postive, meaning that NTIA representatives WILL be available according to what you wrote! :D Peter G Pst, Peter. We'd like to draw your attention to the spelling of the word grammar. Now, we know we are hardly ones to judge, but if you are going to have a pop at us for poor sentence construction, please do so in correctly spelled words. We are but poor vultures, and we are easily confused... So the UN wants to take "control" over the internet, eh? This idea deserves a solid "Bite my crank" as the UN (in this man's "obviously biased" US based opinion) is: A) More corrupt and biased than the US Government could EVER be. B) Unable to make or administrate any decent INTELLIGENT decision because the UN is biggest "Cluster F*&K" in the world. They can't even get a good handle on their own "Johnsons" preferring to milk ours, while they lift our wallets. C) Will eventually make decisions that will screw up a perfectly good system beyond all repair. D) Only motivated by personal aggrandizement, greed and politics.Can you say "Oil for Food?" Oh, I forgot...the French & German governments are completely without blame?!? Hmm.. who engineered & made the gas centrifuges for Iran and Gerry Bull's super cannon for Saddam? It wasn't the USA! For God Sakes folks, Al Gore and George Bush know more about the internet than the UN does. (All sarcasm meant utterly seriously) By the way, if you are TRULY concerned about the "Rise of the Machines", you ought to be worried about "One World Government". Who do you think those Lizard People are anyway? The UN officials are all a bunch thieving, backstabbing spy's who don't pay their bills or their parking tickets. I say "Throw the bums out" and send the "UN" to Strassbourgh where they all belong! Let them eat snails! Dan Finally, a most witty, nay, droll question about the campaign run by No2ID, to get people to pledge that they will refuse to register for ID cards: If I don't want to go on a database, why should I then agree to go on a database of people who don't want to go on a database ? Regards, Mike That is quite enough of that, thank you. Back on Friday with more. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Jul 2005

Visa cuts CardSystems over security breach

Visa USA has dumped a card processing firm blamed for a security breach affecting anything up to 40m credit card numbers from MasterCard, Visa and other card issuers. Payment processor CardSystems Solutions admitted it wasn't supposed to hold the compromised data, so it comes as no great surprise that Visa USA has stopped allowing it to process transactions on its behalf. Security vulnerabilities at CardSystems left unencrypted credit card data - including customers names, card numbers and cvv (security) codes but not customer addresses - open to attack. Records "known to have been stolen" covered roughly 200,000 of the 40m potentially compromised credit card accounts. CardSystems only held the data in order to carry out unauthorised research into why particular transactions had registered as unauthorised or uncompleted. Visa dropped CardSystems after independent investigators said the processing firm has failed to introduce proper controls following the breach, which become public in June. "CardSystems has not corrected, and cannot at this point correct, the failure to provide proper data security for those accounts," said Tim Murphy, Visa's SVP for operations in a memo leaked to The New York Times. "Visa USA has decided that CardSystems should not continue to participate as an agent in the Visa system." Visa has given 11 banks until the end of October to switch payment processing firm. The New York Times reports it's unclear if MasterCard and American Express will take similar disciplinary action, which would threaten the future of the payment processing firm. CardSystems said it hopes to persuade Visa USA to reconsider its decision. The security breach at CardSystems came to light after MasterCard and an unnamed bank, together with computer forensics firm Ubizen, traced unusually high levels of fraud identified in mid-April back to problems at CardSystems. CardSystems said it reported the security breach to the FBI in May 23, the day after security experts nailed the source of the security breach. MasterCard, which went public on the problem on 17 June, is the only card issuer thus far to trace specific instances of fraud back to CardSystems. However other card issuers may been hit and the scope of fraudulent activity caused by the breach remains unclear. ® Related stories MasterCard fingers partner in 40m card security breach Unauthorised research opened door to MasterCard breach MasterCard hack spawns phishing attack How much does a security breach actually cost?
John Leyden, 19 Jul 2005

Three-headed monster takes over IBM Global Services

IBM has appointed a trio of executives to head its massive Global Services business, following the departure of 30-year veteran and former head of IGS John Joyce. A three-executive team of Ginni Rometty, Mike Daniels and Bob Moffatt will report directly to IBM chief executive Sam Palmisano, the company said on Tuesday. Rometty - previously managing partner of IBM's business consulting services - becomes senior vice president of enterprise business services, Daniels - who led IBM's sales in the Americas - becomes senior vice president for IT services, and Moffatt - formerly senior vice president of supply chain operations - becomes senior vice president of integrated operations. The executives are no strangers to the ways of Global Services. Rometty, once named one of Time Magazines' Global 2002 "influentials", previously led IBM Global Services in the Americas'- managing a team of 75,000 consultants. Daniels, meanwhile, has previously served as head of IBM Global Services. Joyce leaves IBM to head-up venture capitalist Silver Lake Partners, after IBM announced quarterly results inline with Wall St targets. IBM brought in $22.3bn for the second quarter, with Global Services accounted for $12bn of that number. Joyce joins a VC whose investments include Ameritrade, Business Objects, Gartner, Network General and Seagate. Separately, the head of IBM's database business Janet Perna is also leaving. Perna is retiring as general manager of IBM's Information Management Solutions after 31 years with the company. Perna is to be replaced by IBM Lotus general manager Ambuj Goyal.® Related stories IBM evens the keel in Q2 Emperor Hurd decimates HP IBM spooks market with dismal Q1
Gavin Clarke, 19 Jul 2005
For Sale sign detail

Search Wars - the Empire strikes back

UpdateUpdate Microsoft is moving to slap a gagging order on an ex-vice president hired by Google, ostensibly to protect trade secrets. Microsoft has filed a suit against Google and former vice president of Natural Interactive Services Division (NISD) Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, who has been recruited by Google to head-up the company’s new R&D operations in China. Lee founded Microsoft’s own R&D operations in China before serving as VP of NISD. Microsoft said in a statement: “As a senior executive, Dr. Lee has direct knowledge of Microsoft’s trade secrets concerning search technologies and China business strategies. He has accepted a position focused on the same set of technologies and strategies for a direct competitor in egregious violation of his explicit contractual obligations. “We are asking the court to require Dr. Lee and Google to honor the confidentiality and non-compete agreements he signed when he began working at Microsoft." Microsoft has a history of saber rattling to protect trade secrets. In 2001, Microsoft accused 21 former employees of web services start-up Crossgain who'd served with Microsoft of violating non-compete agreements. Among them was Microsoft's former vice president of developer marketing Tod Nielsen and Adam Bosworth, who held several key positions at Microsoft and helped develop Internet Explorer, and who was co-founder of Crossgain. The executives quit to take the heat off Crossgain, a move that helped kill the company’s market value and opened the door to take-over by Java application server and middleware vendor BEA Systems. Ironically, Bosworth is also now at Google as a vice president, having quit BEA last year as the company’s chief architect. Google's grab for Lee and Microsoft comes at a sensitive competitive time between the companies. Microsoft is ramping up both the rhetoric and delivery plans for improved search in Windows. Microsoft has promised improved desktop, application and online search with Longhorn and Office 12. "The opening of an R&D center in China will strengthen Google's efforts in delivering the best search experience to our users and partners," Google said in a statement before news broke of Microsoft’s legal action. By opening a facility in China, Google added it was making a "strong commitment" to attracting and developing local talent and partnering with Chinese universities and institutions.® Related stories Google tracks Hitler to San Diego Google spots Jesus in Peruvian sand dune Look out IBM, here comes Microsoft's OzFest Google conquers planet Earth Microsoft deletes 'freedom' and 'democracy' in China
Gavin Clarke, 19 Jul 2005
DVD it in many colours

Broadcom offloads $76m for Ethernet dynamo

Broadcom bought a little bit of its future on Tuesday, acquiring networking chip start-up Siliquent Technologies. The $76m cash deal, expected to close by October, gives Broadcom one of the more interesting offloaders. Siliquent specializes in designing Ethernet chips that can handle different types of data such as TCP/IP, iSCSI and iWarp traffic. Theoretically, these chips should improve the flow of large chunks of data across Ethernet-based storage systems, blade servers and server clusters. In particular, Broadcom touted the ways Siliquent could add to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) NICs. "With 10GbE being the next frontier for enterprise networks, our acquisition of Siliquent provides technology that enables Broadcom to deliver TCP/IP offload, iSCSI and RDMA capabilities on a single-chip, 10GbE controller," said Greg Young, a vice president at Broadcom. "10GbE completes our C-NIC (converged-NIC) vision and levels the performance playing field against competitive network fabrics such as Infiniband and Fibre Channel, enabling Broadcom to unify the data center around a single ubiquitous, standards-based Ethernet fabric that delivers higher levels of performance and improved network communications." Register readers likely stand as the last people who need to be told about Ethernet's surprising longevity. Just when the big vendors would like to cram Infiniband down your throats, 10GbE starts looking like a success. This acquisition will help Broadcom's push to keep Ethernet thriving and build on its economical past. A few start-ups have already pushed the offloading idea, particularly in the TCP/IP realm with moderate success. Larger players such as Intel and Sun Microsystems look to build some offloading functions in their future multicore CPUs, helping blur the line as to when a specialized networking chip will be needed. You can check out Siliquent's gear here.® Related stories Microsoft's 'Chimney' stuffed by TCP/IP settlement Broadcom finds an antitrust suit for Qualcomm US mulls Broadcom's Qualcomm broadside Broadcom broadsides Qualcomm with wireless chip IP lawsuit
Ashlee Vance, 19 Jul 2005

Sun plans more hardware rentals

Sun Microsystems is planning more hardware and software bundles this fall, having experimented with subscription-based offerings in the recent past. John Fowler, executive vice president for Sun’s Network Systems Group (NSG), called initial offerings such as the Ultra 20 Workstation launched at JavaOne in June “only the beginning.” “We believe that with the operating system, system management, middleware stack and excellent work on systems packaging we can have some excellent tools in this space,” Fowler said. Fowler, speaking in San Francisco, would not be drawn on hardware configurations, likely software or pricing plans for the bundles. He added, though, that Sun could “bundle and price how we wish” because Sun can provide all the necessary component elements itself, without turning to partners. The planned launch continues a strategy started in February 2004, with the SunFire V20z AMD-based Opteron server. Priced at $1,499 a year for three years, the server was bundled with Solaris 9.0 for x86 and Java Studio Enterprise, Sun Studio and support services. The latest installment in Sun’s subscription-based bundling strategy came at JavaOne in June, with the Ultra 20 Opteron-based workstation. Priced $29.95 per month for a three-year subscription, the server features Java Studio Enterprise 7 and Java Studio Creator 2004Q2. Sun yesterday refused to give numbers for up-take of the Ultra 20, but claimed demand has been “higher then we thought."® Related stories Sun tries to lure developers with cheap Opteron workstation Sun makes SOA play with SeeBeyond Sun opens more middleware source, plots Java future
Gavin Clarke, 19 Jul 2005

Yahoo! numbers! chill! investors!

Yahoo!'s stock sank 10 per cent after it posted Q2 numbers today. The company earned $1.3bn in the quarter ending in June, Q2 FY2005, a 51 per cent increase year-on-year. After advertising affiliate fees (or "traffic acquisition costs") of $485m, and operating expenses of $505m are deducted, Yahoo! earned $261m from operations. Yahoo! booked an operating profit of $368m. Yes, the internet pioneer is something of an accounting pioneer too, using cut-up techniques apparently borrowed from Brion Gysin to obfuscate its numbers. Footnotes are jammed between terms as "gross profit" and "net revenue". The company also disclosed a whopping one-time windfall of $563m from the sale of an investment, but wouldn't tell us what it was. We can't be the only people having trouble reading. Reuters first headline triumphed, "Yahoo profit up, online advertising grows", but within an hour a second update had been issued, and this time the headline read "Yahoo revenue disappoints, shares drop". Page views on Yahoo! properties dipped 3 per cent from the pervious quarter. Yahoo! added 7 million unique users in Q2, two per cent up, from the previous quarter, and the company continues to grow at a pace. Yahoo! employed 8,780 staff at the end of June, adding a net 700 jobs. Analysts expressed concern about a slow down in advertising growth, and the stock sank to $34.44 in after-hours trading. ® Related stories Yahoo! growth! slows! Yahoo! chief! scientist! joins! Microsoft! Google and Yahoo! accused of click fraud collusion Ad confidence spurs Yahoo! .
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Jul 2005