22nd > July > 2005 Archive

globalisation

Microsoft cautious despite record quarter

Despite posting a $10bn quarter, Microsoft offered a more cautious outlook for the next three months. The company took a profit of $2.99bn from its Q4 2005 period, down slightly from the corresponding period last year, after accounting for $756m in antitrust related legal charges. Total revenue was $10.16bn All segments grew, but executives seemed most pleased with a 22 per cent increase in the small Home and Entertainment division, mostly related to the Xbox. Xbox2 will ship before Xmas. Server and tools profits jumped from $608m a year ago to $800m in this quarter. But the two big cash cows were comparatively steady, and Office-related profits actually fell year-on-year. Client profit was comparatively steady at $2.175bn. while the "Information Worker" group recorded $1.997bn in operating income, down from $2.022bn a year ago. The server, Windows and Office groups account for 84 per cent of Microsoft's revenue and the vast majority of its profits, since the only other group in the black is MSN. For the year, Microsoft recorded revenue of $39.78bn and a profit of $14.56bn. The company listed its assets at $70bn, down from $94bn, reflecting the $44bn Microsoft has spent on dividends and share buybacks. For Q1 2006, Microsoft said it expected earnings to be slightly lower, between $9.7bn and $9.8bn.® Related stories MS buys FrontBridge, buys into Finjan Microsoft does well in third quarter Microsoft halves R&D spending, posts record profits
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Jul 2005

Bill Joy knocked as 'conspiracy theorist' by tech zealot

Uberthinker Bill Joy got a pants dusting on Thursday for saying technology has increased our threat levels and anything other than the free market can save us. Joy, speaking at Stanford University said powerful technologies have increased the potential for a single individual to wreak widespread terror by developing and deploying powerful bio-chemical agents or by writing an economically damaging computer virus. Joy, partaking in an AlwaysOn 2005 Innovation Summit panel discussion entitled "Is technology making us safer?", went on to say global warming and pandemics like Asian bird flue can only be solved using strong public policy. "Political constipation" and partisanship in Washington meant Non Government Organizations (NGOs) are better placed to tackle these issues, Joy said. "We have to race to find a way through public policy to deal with the fact... [that] a single suicidal actor has the power of the exponential to create epdidemics," Joy said. Joy was warned of world-ending events before and his latest comments were enough to spark fellow panelist, author and speechwriter George Gilder into a counter attack on Sun's former chief technology officer. "Free societies are safest when technology moves fastest," Gilder warmed up. "The reason the Soviet Union didn't control the world [after World War 2] was because we didn't control computer technology. People like Bill Joy could develop computer technologies that made the US the dominant military and technology economy in the world. Events will be made worse following Bill's safety first policy." Gilder, editor of the Gilder Technology Report and apparently former US president Ronald Regan's most frequently quoted author, didn't leave it there, though, for the quiet, zany-haired Joy. Guilder tried to position global warming as a natural phenomenon that's happened before and is nothing to worry about. "What worries me is people today who are worried about global warming. We have these real phobias that distract our attention. The best remedy for Bill's threat is very fast advances in bio engineering and pharmacology, and an array of scientific advances," Gilder observed. Defending his stance on global warming, Joy said his views are based on consensus in the scientific community not "faith". He went on to support NGO-based action as a powerful alternative to action by politicians, especially those in the US. "It makes you want to cry at how wonderful these [NGOs] are.... People come together across geographical boundaries. If the problem is in Washington, then the answer is not going to be in Washington." Joy said, adding he became managing director at venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to help further good causes and beneficial technologies. "I went VC partly because the political side is so constipated right now." Joy said.® Related stories Bill Joy spurned job at out of control Google Bill Joy leaves Sun Bush admits to being hotter and gassier, blames humans White House sexed-down climate change reports Global warming cleared on ice shelf collapse rap
Gavin Clarke, 22 Jul 2005

Google's profits soar as share price slips

Google posted bumper Q2 results on Thursday with net income of $343m, compared to profits of $79m in the same period last year. For the quarter ending 30 June, the search engine behemoth posted record revenues of $1.38bn up 98 per cent on its revenues in Q2 2004 and 10 per cent up on the $1.26bn it clocked up in Q1 2005. More than half this revenue ($737m or 53 per cent of the total) came from Google owned sites. Revenues generated on Google's partner sites, via syndicated advertising through Google's AdSense programs, contributed $630m. The company paid out $494m of this revenue back to partners, up from $277m in 2004. Although Google posted stellar results Wall Street gave them a caning. Shares in the search engine giant fell more than six per cent to $294 in after hours trading. ® Related stories Q1 brings nothing but good news for Google Google tops $1bn Google shares fall on less-than-stellar growth fears PayPal founder on Google's Wallet Google spots Jesus in Peruvian sand dune
John Leyden, 22 Jul 2005

UK Gov disaster recovery kit: belt, braces... brolly

Home Secretary Charles Clarke has recently been claiming the new-look super-efficient Passport Service as a Government IT success, but it was not always thus, as Liberal Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten reminded him this week. Once upon a time, umbrellas were an essential component of the Passport Service's disaster recovery programme. When the new IT system fell apart in 1999, the Passport Service acted swiftly to deal with the long queues snaking from its office - it issued them with umbrellas. Oaten's concern over the fate of public property is commendable. Asked what became of the umbrellas, Clarke confirmed that the Passport Service had bought 1,200 umbrellas in 1999, but said that "The appointment system that has operated in all offices since 2002 resulted in the umbrellas no longer being required and they were donated to the charity, Oxfam." If the system starts to creak when personal interviews for new passport applications commence, and it rains, Clarke may have reason to regret this generosity. But do we see yet another example of poor value for money in Government IT procurement here? The 1,200 umbrellas are reported to have cost £16,000, which is not out of line for a reasonably smart umbrella, but way over the odds for a cheap emergency piece of plastic. Further enquiries to Clarke may be in order, although in our experience he may not be entirely forthcoming. Asked last year about the cost of the chairs in his previous department, Education, Clarke replied thus: "The price paid by the developer to the supplier is confidential under the terms of the agreement between them. It took account of the extended warranty period and long-term maintenance costs. The developer decided that for the price paid the Mirra chairs represented the best value for money to deliver their commitment, at their cost risk, to provide and maintain office furniture for the 26 year operating period of the PFI contract." The price of Mirra chairs, which look just like the sort of super-complicated project the MoD would throw millions at before cancelling, is a state secret. Official. ®
John Lettice, 22 Jul 2005
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Elpida falls into red on weak DRAM prices

Elpida lost ¥3.30bn ($29.9m) on sales of ¥48.04bn ($434.8m) during Q1 FY2005, the memory maker said yesterday. It blamed its fall into the red on rapidly declining memory prices, which more than countered rising sales. The quarter's revenues were up 5.5 per cent on the year-ago period's ¥45.54bn ($412.2m). During June, Elpida noted, DRAM prices began to stabilise in the PC and server markets. At the same time, it said, the industry-wide inventory correction problem is coming to a close with indications that demand from the consumer electronics and mobile phone sectors is starting to move upward - net sales to these markets were up 66.04 per cent year on year, Elpida said. The company forecast Q2 will see sales continue to rise, to between ¥52bn ($470.7m) and ¥55bn ($497.9m), for growth of 8.2-14.5 per cent. However, that growth and improving prices will not be sufficient to generate a strong quarterly profit, Elpida admitted. It expects anything between a ¥4bn ($36.2m) loss and the break-even point. ® Related stories Freescale grows Q2 earnings on flat sales Intel overcomes 'weak' line-up during Q2 AMD shrugs off Intel shackles for ace Q2 Chip kit market shrinks TSMC, UMC Q2 sales slide Elpida touts 'first' 2Gb DDR 2 chip Elpida declares first annual profit
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2005
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ATI 'enables' CrossFire on Intel 955X chipset

ATI's CrossFire multi-GPU technology may work with motherboards based on Intel's 955X chipset when compatible graphics cards ship next month. According to sources from within Taiwan's mobo-maker community cited by DigiTimes, ATI has already provided motherboard makers with drivers that enable CrossFire on 955X-based boards. The sources also claim board makers like Intel, Asustek and Gigabyte will announce CrossFire-compatible mobos in August. CrossFire is ATI's alternative to Nvidia's SLi multi-GPU system. There have been rumours aplenty that Nvidia might extend support for SLi beyond its own chipsets, but as yet there has been no formal announcement of such a move. If the sources' claims are accurate, ATI may have been able to execute such a move first. At CrossFire's launch, ATI said the technology can be hosted by any motherboard with twin x16 PCI Express slots, but it suggested mobos based on its own Radeon Xpress 200 CrossFire Edition chips would provide the "optimal" gaming experience. CrossFire will be enabled by two graphics cards, the Radeon X800 CrossFire Edition and X850 CrossFire Edition. At launch, in June, ATI said the former would ship in August shortly after the X850's July debut. The second card can be one of a number of already available X800 and X850 cards. It all works with existing games, ATI said, contrasting CrossFire with SLi, which, it said, is only enabled in titles "profiled" in Nvidia's driver. While SLi uses a proprietary card-to-card connector, CrossFire uses the PCI Express bus. The video output of the slave card is fed into the CrossFire-enabled 'master' card, which drives the display. ® Related stories Nvidia updates drivers to confound CrossFire Intel readies mainstream discrete dual-core chipset ATI R520 to ship 'mid-Q3' Nvidia unveils GeForce 7800 GTX ATI GPU to be first X part ATI to launch R520 '26 July' ATI unveils CrossFire
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2005

Golden Palace to sponsor Robert Mugabe?

Competition resultsCompetition results Thanks very much to all of those many readers who sent in suggestions as to how online gambling outfit GoldenPalace.com might increase its brand frontage in the wake of its greatest stunt to date: tattooing its name onto a woman's face. Tricky, you might think, to top such a media-friendly piece of disfigurement, but rest assured that El Reg fans have not let us down, as you will see. First up, though, we have to address the thorny issue of whether running stories on casinos tattooing women's faces is actually anything more than giving free publicity to women's-face-tattooing casinos. Here's Andrew Bale's take on the matter: Have theregister run a competition in which readers are forced to mull over the words "Golden Palace" repeatedly trying to think up marketing strategies... oh, wait.... And try this from Kev Williams: Get an online news site to run a story about how Golden Palace can improve it’s coverage and get people to email in suggestions. Hmmm. Interesting, but not entirely convincing. Try this: Scene: Vulture Central, 1 September 1939. A breathless hack bursts into the editor's office. Breathless hack: Hitler's just invaded Poland. Shall we hold the front page? Ed: Nah, just leave it - it'll only encourage him. Right. On with the show. We've (sort of) divided your suggestions into categories, in order to make the thing a bit more user-friendly. First up are - since we ocassionally run IT news - a few computer/net/science-based offerings, starting with Ian Strickley: How about buying the website name www.weredesperateforanyadvertisingcoverage.com Yes, and then, says Damien Greaves... GoldenPalace.com could write there own OS. Then try and take over the world by only having pieces of software made by GoldenPalace.com work on it. (Software such as GoldenPalace.com Express, GoldenPalace.com Explorer, GoldenPalace,com Messenger, GoldenPalace.com Word, Etc). Of coarse the OS and any related software (and hardware for that matter) will have to be overpriced and have the GoldenPalace.com logo plastered all over it. The OS and software must also be able to crash at every given opportunity. Although I have a nagging feeling it's already been done. We think you may be right, Damien. Here, though, is something we're sure has yet to be revealed to a shocked and awed world: I'm still waiting for someone to spell out Goldenpalace.com in Xenon atoms with a scanning tunelling microscope. We reckon it would be wise for Anthony Michell not to hold his breath on that one. Moving swiftly on, here's a mixed bag of opportunities under the heading: Brand frontage Perhaps they should stick with the forehead-tattoo theme, but of course they need to go for something bigger and better... I seem to remember seeing some fairly decent sized foreheads on Mount Rushmore... Thanks for that, Matt Javes. Expanding on this theme is Peter Webb. This sort of thing was a popular choice: Golden Palace tattooed on dead peoples foreheads. It would give the mourners an idea on how to cheer up, and a suggestion to the beneficiaries on what to do with all the dough. Or how about painting Golden Palace on coffins. Better exposure, since people on the street outside the funeral parlour, church and cemetery could see it too, not just the mourners. And continuing on this train of thought, how about Golden Palace on gravestones? Something I'm sure people would be dying to do. While we're on the subject of dead people and funerals and the like, a Golden Palace bible would probably be a comfort, explains Robert Grant: 1 Kings 6:14 So Solomon built the GOLDEN PALACE and completed it. 1 Kings 6:21 Solomon covered the inside of the GOLDEN PALACE with pure gold, and he extended gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary, which was overlaid with gold. 1 Kings 7:51 When all the work King Solomon had done for the GOLDEN PALACE of the LORD was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated—the silver and gold and the furnishings—and he placed them in the treasuries of the LORD's GOLDEN PALACE. Nicely done. Tom Watson has a similar liking for sponsored buildings: GoldenPalace.com are proud to have been instrumental in the reconstruction of this bridge, damaged in 1997 by Her Royal Highness Diana Princess of Wales. Speaking of absent celebrities, Foz Hughes recommends: The musician Prince, who could change his name to a squiggle again and then become known as "The artist formerly known as GoldenPalace.com" What ever did happen to the artist formerly known as well-known? Perhaps he blew his wad in online poker rooms and is now busking for dimes in Philadelphia. It's a sad thought. Sad yes, but not by any means offensive, a word which might possibly apply to Duke's Golden Palace grand plan: Golden Palace branded pedophiles, great penetration in the youth market. Well, they say all publicity is good publicity, so why not this too from George Morris?: Bottled Thalidomide Water for Maternity Wards Ah yes, the kiddie market. We ask you now to... ...for God's sake, think of the children I'm thinking a good way for Golden Palace to get even more gain from advertising/controversy would be to start sponsoring abortions. Each teenage girl coming in to prevent another generation of trash growing up could walk away with a "My fetus was killed by GoldenPalace.com and all I got was this lousy shirt" t-shirt. Yes, Big-D, we see where you're coming from - killing two birds with one stone, as it were. Of course, not everyone will warm to the abortion idea, but there's still cash to be made from them thar rugrats. Les explains: In order to instill brand awareness during the critical, formative years, aggressively pursue co-branding opportunities with Playskool, Mattel, Hasbro, &c to create "My Little Casino" kiddie-games which would be distributed free of charge to cash-strapped school districts and pre- schools. Nothing gets a teacher's attention like free swag for her/his students. This is true, as is the fact that advances in genetic modification techniques open a whole new range of marketing possibilities: Have your children genetically modified so that they run around shouting "Golden Palace" instead of "Eaoww dakakaka" or "Nee Naa Nee Naa". Thank you Barney Hilken, although as any parent knows, all children run around saying "Bobobobomama", except those who have been playing too much GTA: San Andreas, who generally never get beyond "Gonna pop a cap in yo' muthaf***in' ass, ho!" An example of where such a maladjusted and violence-driven childhood leads is exemplified by Chris Denham, who is first up under our general heading of: Media friendly Golden Palace could pay somebody (me) to kill people and evade the law leaving the message 'Goldenpalace.com' at every scene. Some could be carved into the victims, others could be written in their blood - its all good. Ah yes, nothing like a bit of death to drum up business. Another, from Bill Orme: GP could sponsor a blowfish eating contest where 5 of the dishes are prepared properly, and one is lethal - broadcasting opp here is huge. Yes, they could call it, er... ...Russian Roulette. I am sure there will be no shortage of well paid facially tattooed vounteers to pass round a loaded revolver with a single bullet. The beauty of this idea is that they can have a new round of on line betting after each empty chamber. Think of the spinoffs - coffins with GoldenPalace.com on the side and sponsorship by Colt - beats Big Brother for clean family enertainment. Ta very much to Steven Walker for that. Matt Javes, though, reckons he's got the ultimate in clean family entertainment: If they want to go more mass-market... how about they use a computer-controlled cannon to fire the terminally ill/elderly people/mental patients/disabled children into an appropriately large urban landmark in order to create a huge red (and lumpy) GoldenPalace.com billboard logo (I reckon you'd need 6 or 7 people per letter depending their size, percentage of body fat and impact velocity)... obviously their next of kin would receive payment, otherwise it would be just cruel... It would. Not as cruel as this, however. Well, on the TV audience at least: I think in order for Goldenpalace.com to obtain more publicity, they should strike up a relationship with Tom Cruise! Think of it, it’s perfect! Two shallow publicity seekers in tandem, it could be a match made in heaven! Tom bouncing up and down on a Goldenpalace.com branded sofa, declaring his love for ‘The best online casino in the world’! Maybe Tom could rant on about how depressed people shouldn’t be taking medication, they should be cheered by ‘Some of the best payout rates on the internet’! What price for a Goldenpalace.com branded War Of The Worlds Tripod Walker? Rory Lewis was not alone in his penchant for celebrity endorsement. James Young suggested the: Pitt Poop Pot o' Gold: Brad Pitt will swallow a nugget of gold with the words "GoldenPalace.com" etched on it. Then a lucky winner will be chosen to extricate it from his stool when he passes it on live TV. Hmmmm. It's a bit of a one-(s)hit gag, isn't it? Let's look to Matthew Hallberg for more long-term exploitation of brand and celebrity: Golden Palace buys out Man U. After the controversy of an American buying Man U, this would spark further controversy. Golden Palace would bring back Beckham and return the ultimate dominance of English Football causing fans everywhere to go to their websites and wear Golden Palace football shirts and shoes and tattoos because the whole world knows how fanatical football fans are (even the US fears these kinds of fans). Golden Palace's notoriety/popularity would increase a million-fold. It would. Try this, on the other hand, for a billion-fold increase in notoriety: I suggest that they should pay someone to hijack a plane and fly it into Caesar's Palace. That would certainly net them some hitcount improvements. That explosive marketing concept is courtesy of Reg regular Jasmine. She admits to still being complete crap at haikus. Not that they'd know anything about Japanese poetry down in Mississippi, home of Madge May-Detton of Flying Turtle Farm and her assemblage of goats, who kicks off our section named: Weep for Mother Nature and Planet Earth I'd be willing to rent space on my dairy goats. They're purebred Saanan milk goats, which means they are very large white goats. I'd be willing to stencil the Golden Palace logo on their sides for a small monthly fee, say, $200 per goat. Our girls are clean and healthy, and if you asked me, a lot better looking than the psycho chick with the face tattoo. I'd even be willing for my goat girls to appear on web cam, under tasteful and discreet circumstances that is. I also have a very large male Saanan with a rack that's about 36 inches tip to tip. I'm certain the old Golden Palace staff could come up with a way to eblazon his rack with flashing neon lights, but the fee on that would be much higher, say $500 per month plus a supply of strawberry 'Twizzlers' his favorite snack. That's right, while there are people dumb enough to be branded by Golden Palace, there are millions of dumb animals who don't have a say in the matter. Here's Mike's suggestion: They could tattoo their URL on the hides of baby seals at the north pole. That's the Canadian market tackled, then. For a more global impact, try Zen random's: The GoldenPalace.com branded killer meteorite. I predict that it would deliver a gigantic impact. Truly a way for GoldenPalace.com to make it's mark on the world. Could prove a disastrous strategy in the long-term, we believe. Better is this from Andy Scales: How about using some sort of moon mounted "la-ser" beam to scorch their brand right across North America, thus giving them free advertising on all future photos of the earth. I'm sure all of the homeowners/landowners/living in it's path wouldn't mind the small price to pay to build a better future for GoldenPalace.com. I have attached a highly skilled artist's impression of how this may look. Suffice it to say, we would not decribe the artist's impression as "highly skilled" on any level, which is why we're sparing you. So far, it's all a bit close to home, don't you think? Time for Golden Palace to think extraterrestrial: Golden Palace DNA-tag. Have your DNA tagged, and when the Aliens come to abduct you they will find the message and spend all their kryptonite at GoldenPalace.com. Disturbing stuff from Oliver Brose. Daniel Babbage is likewise thinking out-of-this-world: How about Golden palace constellations? Golden palace can commandeer NASA, develop hyperspace technology, invent a huge singularity device, and go and accelerate the lifespan of a carefully selected number of stars. When they do all go boom, we will see the URL "GoldenPalace.com" spelled out in stars in the night sky, probably remaining there for a few weeks. That should get their bloody visitor numbers up, the advantageous bastards. Could cost a bit. If Golden Palace is looking for a low-cost alternative to stellar manipulation, Luke Wells may have it cracked: The sun! (as in the sky not the tabloid) We all know that when you stare into the sun for a few seconds, a big purple circle is burnt into your retinas for a few seconds/minutes. Now how great would it be to build a giant sunshade that orbits the earth with the Golden Palace logo cut out of it. So rather then a big purple circle being burnt into your retina, its the Golden Palace logo! The benefit of this is that during the period of time the logo remains burnt into your retinas, EVERYTHING you look at will have the golden palace logo on it, without Golden Palace to actually pay to advertise on everything :) The beancounters will like that one, make no mistake, which is more than can be said for the UK's ID card scheme, currently estimated at around £200bn. Yes, you guessed it, it's time for: Political shenanigans Before getting to the meat, we'll give a heads-up to the many entrants who suggested Golden Palace sponsor ID cards - a neat idea, especially if you can use the thing to gamble online and blow a month's wages in one glorious orgy of folly. And if it's folly you want, try this hot off the keyboard of Calin Cosma: Maybe they could buy a small country. I guess there are a few dictators in Africa that for a couple of million bucks would gladly rename their countries as goldenpalace.com. One dictator springs immediately to mind: Get good old Robert Mugabe to appear in an advert for them stating that Golden Palace is the only choice for the Zanu-PF and war veterans. Jonathan Parsons there leading the charge to suggest Golden Palace-sponsored bulldozers. The West Bank and Israel got a few mentions along the same lines, but here's something a bit more radical, from Mafoo: GoldenPalace.com - in lights - written across the middle east using Israel's 110 nukes. Branding thats sure to make the tea time news. Robert Lindsay develops the WMD theme thus: The obvious answer: buy the naming rights to weapons. News 2007: "Today US microsoft.com F-22 longhorns dropped 500 pound goldenpalace.com guided bombs on insurgent bases..." Insurgents, eh? Where would we be without a bit of insurgency? I think that Al Quaeda are missing out on a huge opportunity here - with the War On Terrorism™ and removal of the Taleban cutting into their sources of funding, Golden Palace might be able to step into the breach in return for sponsoring Osama Bin Laden. Just imagine future video releases from the world's most wanted beardie pouring out hatred of The Great Satan, calling for the death of all infidels, all whilst wearing a GoldenPalace.com t-shirt. Benefits include guaranteed air-time on Al-Jazeera, public condemnation from just about every western leader (no such thing as bad publicity!), and an instant jump in revenue for "GoldenArabicPalace.com - where 10% of our profit provides more weapons for those plucky freedom fighters". Cheers to Dan Halford for the Ozzie tip. Of course, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Why can't we just all learn to love one another?, asks Declan Kelly: Loyalist/Republican gable-wall "art": Offer silly amounts of cash to "community activists" in Northern Ireland (where not even kerbstones and lamp posts are spared from a 3-colour paint job so that everyone knows what area they are in) to paint the GoldenPalace.com URL and casino-themed artwork on end-of-terrace gable walls in housing estates. Offer exactly the same amount of money to Loyalist and Republican, Protestant and Catholic, as the aim here would be to end a war (not start a new one). Hear, hear. We're going to wrap up this bundle of political polemic with a populist proposal from Graham Norbury: GoldernPalace.com sponsored speed cameras in the UK. They pay the fine. They really would get the attention of the public. Probably so, but nothing on Earth gets the public's attention like: Sex Cutting the foreplay, let's get down and dirty with Gareth Fitch: Has to be Golden Palace condoms: "Get screwed with Golden Palace" "Play the one-arm bandit at Golden Palace" "Get a rise with the Golden Palace" "Blow it all at the Golden Palace" "Golden Palace: Just Cum In" Alternatively, the Golden Palace dildo: "Shafted by the Golden Palace" Naturally, having slipped on the Golden Palace prophylactic, you'll need somewhere to dip your wick. Damon Hart offers: Well of course, you could have "Golden" tattooed on your left buttock, and "Palace" on the right, which might prove popular with the 18-30 ASBO Holiday crowd... Roger that, old chap. Unsurprisingly we had plenty of hard-core suggestions for Golden Palace, most of which were unsuitable for publication on a family website such as this. Accordingly, we sold them to Penthouse for a couple of hundred quid but sadly blew the lot in ten minutes playing online Russian Roulette. Accordingly, we have only Matthew Hepburn left to conclude this lewdity: Golden Palace teams up with Golden Showers to give live streams? (sorry... maybe podcasts would be a better turn of phrase) No, live streams works for us. And here, before we finally get to the Hall of Fame, are a few possible recipients of Golden Palace Shower's attentions, according to John Lake and Chris Winpenny: What about getting all the directors and marketing people tattooed with "I'm a dehumanising, explotative wanker - who works for Golden Palace" An auction of a dog turd, the winner of which gets to plant it cream-pie like in the face of the CEO of GoldenPalace. Naturally the CEO would have to agree to this but seeing how he's indicated his desire to push the boundaries of advertising and good taste I'm sure he'd be up for it. Steady on there - these people are just trying to make a living. As are we, which is why we have to conclude this madness right now and get back to writing proper, IT-related stories about vibrating knickers, Paris Hilton and Adolf Hitler. So, with the usual roll on the drums and hushed anticipation, here, in no particular order, is our personal pick of the crop. Thanks to all of you who took the time to help out Golden Palace achieve ever greater marketing success: T.J. Parfrey: Hire a thousand black-clad satanic monks to march slowly through the city chanting "Gol-den-pa-lace. Dot. Com." whilst ringing gongs and waving censers of strange incense. Jeremy Davis: Have Spencer Tunick (http://www.thebluedot.com/tunick/) take a massive group photo of people spelling out GoldenPalace.com Of course all the people will be in the buff. woohoo Pedro Gutierrez: If I had a gun (or lived in Texas) I would go door-to-door asking "What's the best online casino?" And if you don't answer "GoldenPalace.com" right away... well, you get a bullet between the eyes. ¿My price? Five minutes with Steve Jobs, gun in hand, to discuss this Intel-inside business =D Florian Mosleh: I think there may be a real business opportinuty here. how about creeping into coma and care wards at hospitals at night, tatooing the foreheads of the brain dead and notifying local christian right groups about so and so's life support getting turned off. Ross Henderson: Supply wafers given during mass, in the shape of casino chips bearing goldenpalace.com on one side and an image of the virgin mary on a toasted sandwich on the other, free to all churches around the world. Martin Ballhatchet GoldenPalace.com branded virginity: "This cherry popped by GoldenPalace.com - exciting at first, but over all-too-soon, leaving behind a bitter, hollow emptiness". OL: It is clear, as any marketing expert will tell you, that the only way for Golden Palace to go from here would be to round up all the wheelchair bound, some old folk and maybe a few non gamblers from GA to form a human logo in the desert, which when ignited would be viewable from space. Matt King: Have they ever considered sticking a banner on, say, a casino. You never know, it seems to go down a storm in Vegas. Bootnote Yes, we know we'd award some prizes to the top entries. We're trying to locate the very last of the highly-collectable Reg lapel pins. If the above eight want to bung me an email with their postal details, I'll get back to them when we've got our act together (soon - honest). Legal notice For the benefit of Golden Palace - and we know you're reading this - all of the above marketing strategies are the copyright of the respective marketeers and are to be used only after payment of the usual $10k plus $5k towards their kids' education. So, if we find out you've been setting fire to people in wheelchairs out in the desert, there will be trouble, make no mistake. Related stories Online casino tattoos woman's face Casino brands eBay cleavage woman eCasino snaps up Virgin Mary cheese sarnie
Lester Haines, 22 Jul 2005
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Mozilla postpones next Firefox release

The next major release of Firefox has been delayed with the Mozilla Foundation opting to can the 1.1 release altogether, and switch to a release of version 1.5 in September instead. The Foundation said that the delay was down to the development of new features taking longer than expected. Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe, told ZDNet that the organisation tries to avoid committing itself to release dates, because they do slip so easily. "I've been in the software industry too long to make any commitments in terms of dates," he told the publication. "You always end up being wrong." Users can take comfort from the news that although delayed, version 1.5 is likely to have more features than 1.1 would have done. Nitot says that the release will be better than originally planned, which is why they decided to give it a new name; 1.5 clearly being much more impressive than 1.1. Mozilla Foundation said a beta version would be released in August, with the full release following some time around September. ® Related stories Firefox update fixes stability glitches Firefox's Greasemonkey slippery on security Hackers attack Mozilla site to spread spam
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Jul 2005

BOFH: Chuck it and leg it

Episode 21Episode 21 "What the hell's he saying?!" I ask the PFY as he tries to interpret what my counterpart is saying. "I'm not sure - East European languages aren't my speciality - but I think he's saying what you just did is illegal in his country," the PFY replies, raising a questioning eyebrow. "Ah! In that case tell him not to worry - it's illegal in this country too," I say, handing my helper the 50 quid he'd been promised before he dashes out the pub door. "What the hell did you do?" "Oh Nothing. He just helped me dump a bit of rubbish." "The new auditor guy!!" The PFY gasps. "I thought he was sniffing around the place a bit too much for his own good..." "What?! No! No, it was just some old laser printers from the clutter in Mission Control. The environmentally-friendly disposal crowd have upped their prices again so that it's getting cheaper to buy a printer than dispose of one!" "You didn't stuff them into the roadside bins again!" the PFY sighs. "It's a 50 quid fine!" "They way things are going it'll soon be the cheaper option - but no. We just chucked them off Waterloo Bridge." "What?! How'd you get them there?" "'Borrowed the Boss' car. Admittedly I did feed him a few too many drinks in the afterwork celebrations." "What celebrations?" "Celebrating getting rid of 10 printers without paying for their disposal." "How the hell did you get 10 printers into an MG?!?!" "Obviously we had to make two trips..." "Obviously," the PFY says dubiously. "And so it all went well?" "Yeah, pretty much. Hitting the party barge was a bit of a low point and seemed to upset the punters, but by that stage we were in the car with the foot down." "And there'll be no.... complications?" "Nope!" . . . The next day . . . "Ah... Uhhh... Simon. Was wondering if you had time for a little chat?" the Boss asks. "Sure gimme five minutes - I've almost got spider beat!" "Ahhmmmm, it's a little more urgent than that," he mumbles, looking a little distressed. . . . two minutes later in a quiet meeting room . . . "Right. Well. It seems that Miss Watson here..." the Boss says, indicating a woman in the room with us. "Ms," Ms Watson corrects. "Ms?" the Boss confirms. "Short for Misery?" I ask, lightening the situation a touch... Or not, as seems apparent. Ah well. "Ms Watson is a legal representative of an ecological group - 'Friends of the Thames'." "Ah yes, The Thames Freighter, a king among vans!" "No," Ms Watson snips. "Really? You're friends of the Television company then?" "No." "The Tunnel! A tribute to Brunel!" "No, the Thames river!" she snaps. "Oh, of course. And?" "And Ms Watson believes that a number of our company's older computing assets found their way into the Thames last night." "Really? By themselves?" "I think we can dispense with the innocent act," Ms Watson says, placing a photograph on the table. "Amazing the clarity of these pictures, don't you think? I think the courts would have no problem at all in prosecuting you on this evidence alone." "THIS 'evidence' alone?" I ask. "One of the machines had a company inventory sticker on it," the Boss sighs. "Which led me here.. to you" Ms Watson says. "It's true", I admit grudgingly. "While taking the machines for... servicing.. the car .. broke down on the bridge, at which time a man appeared from nowhere and started tossing them into the Thames. Some form of Luddite, I shouldn't wonder!" "You're suggesting you weren't a knowing party to this?" "Of course not. Your photos clearly show me attempting to rescue the printer from him - and I defy you to prove otherwise." "We have several similar photos from two separate occasions last night." "He's obviously a serial offender," I suggest. "And you're also suggesting that your car just HAPPENED to break down at the same place twice in the same night." "Classic cars are notoriously unreliable." "And so you're saying that you weren't intentionally dumping your old equipment into a public waterway." "We're the VICTIM here!" I blurt, not altogether convincingly. "And you don't mind telling me how you do dispose of your equipment?" "We work on a 30-month life cycle." "Don't you mean 36 month in line with the normal three year warranty?" "No, 30 month. At that point we remove the theft prevention device and inventory stickers and redeploy them closer to the car park. Things seem to sort themselves out there because people can't resist the opportunity." "So it's your contention that you have no inventory disposal problems?" "None." . . . twenty minutes later. . . "Well thank you for coming to share your concerns," the Boss blurts, showing Ms Watson to the door. . . . "I thought we were for it then!" he gasps when he returns moments later. "I think you'd best let your offsider know that we'd rather pay the disposal fees than risk public exposure for dumping equipment - especially the stuff we've yet to dispose of." "No, no, there's nothing left." "What about the two machines on the floor of your room." "Should be leaving the building in the boot of Ms Watson's car any time now." "I..." "Which reminds me - when she comes back to complain let me know as we've got a bootload of dud toner cartridges in the basement looking for a home...." "I..." "...think we're doing a splendid job and deserve an afternoon in the pub. FANTASTIC." >click< >click< >Slam!< ® BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 Get BOFH Books here
Simon Travaglia, 22 Jul 2005
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AMD's battle with Intel to go west?

AMD vs IntelAMD vs Intel AMD's legal action against Intel in the US District Court of Delaware could up stumps and move to the US District of Northern California, if plaintiffs already engaged in proceedings against Intel have their way, court documents seen by The Register reveal. The Delaware Court was this week notified that two Northern California plaintiffs, Michael Brauch and Andrew Meimes, have requested the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) order the transfer of four cases coming up before the Delaware Court to be transferred to Northern California and consolidate them and ten anti-Intel class actions already taking place there. Among those four Delaware cases is AMD vs Intel and Intel KK - the latter is Intel's Japanese subsidiary. The others are all cases filed on 6 and 8 July 2005. The ten Northern California were all filed after AMD's 27 June 2005 complaint, suggesting they, like the three extra Delaware cases, were filed in response to AMD's lead. The ten Northern California cases list "consumers who purchased Intel microprocessor computer chips" as plaintiffs - as do the three additional Delaware cases According to the JPML request, all the extra cases "arise out of the same or similar illegal antitrust conduct and allege substantially similar claims... [and] a common core of factual allegations, namely, that Intel illegally maintained its monopoly power in the relevant microprocessor market and/or engaged in a combination and conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in that market by fixing the prices and/or allocating markets for Intel chips solid in the United States and elsewhere, thus overcharging Original Equipment Manufacturer purchasers and consumers for prices paid for Intel chips during the relevant time period". The request notes that none of the cases have heard responses from Intel, and that combining them would save considerable court time and costs. Why move to Northern California rather than Delaware? Because that Court has the majority of cases already. No date was given for a decision on the motion to transfer. The JPML meets every two months. Its next convention takes place next week, on 28 July, where it will consider a host of motions to transfer, but not MDL-1707, the request concerning the AMD case and others. That means the request will not be heard until late September at the earliest, by which time Intel should have filed its response to AMD's complaint. In the meantime, the parties have an opportunity to state their agreement to the move, or to tell the JPML they object to the change of jurisdiction and/or the move to consolidate the cases. Separately, AMD subpoenaed more PC companies this week. Commands to attend the Delaware District Court, Judge Joseph J Farnan Jr presiding, were sent to Acer and NEC, the latter as both NEC USA and as NEC Computers. The subpoenas, like those already sent to Fujitsu, Avnet, Ingram Micro, Supermicro, CompUSA, Fry's and Office Depot, demand the named companies retain in order that they may be produced in court, pretty much all documents relating the vendors' business dealings with Intel since January 2000. ® Related stories Date set for Intel's response to AMD antitrust claims AMD alleges Intel compilers create crash code for its chips EC officials raid Intel offices Dixons disses AMD claims AMD wants Intel evidence from 30 firms AMD Japan sues Intel for $50m damages - and then some Can anyone compete with Intel? AMD says, 'No!' AMD files anti-trust suit against Intel
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2005

HSDPA in Germany next year

T-Mobile will bring HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) wireless technology to the German market as early as March 2006. It may already be available nationwide during CeBIT 2006. HSDPA speeds up downloads from 384 kilobits per second up to 1.8Mbps, using the existing UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) network. T-Mobile says it will test high-speed UMTS under real conditions in the coming months, with demonstrations taking place at its T-Mobile Campus in Bonn. In the future, speeds will gradually be increased to 7.2 megabits per second, that's a lot faster than most fixed-network DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) lines. In February, Ericsson was able to achieve speeds of 9 Mbts/s downstream in tests. Of course, the technology will have to complement T-Mobile's existing range of technologies such as W-LAN. T-Mobile already operates around 5,000 hot spots in Germany. To get access to HSDPA, you'll need an updatable laptop UMTS data card, T-Mobile says. Although some experts believe HSDPA won’t be in demand for two years, Canadian company Sierra Wireless is reporting high orders for its HSDPA cards. Among the countries in Europe planning to introduce HSPDA are Austria and France. Related stories Sony Ericsson touts 3G/Wi-Fi PC Card 'first' HSPDA is faster 3G - in theory (but where are the phones?) Mobile players look beyond 3G
Jan Libbenga, 22 Jul 2005
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Dixons confirms Logica deal off

Dixons has confirmed that it has cancelled plans to outsource its IT support to LogicaCMG, after the two companies were unable to agree on the terms of the deal. It now says it is "reviewing its options" about how to proceed. In a statement, the company said: "We can confirm that we have ceased negotiations with LogicaCMG regarding the potential outsourcing of our internally facing IS support function. We have been unable to agree terms." It has denied reports that some IT staff had already been made redundant, saying that the deal was not about redundancies, and some 210 staff would have been transferred to LogicaCMG if the deal had gone ahead. Other reports suggest some staff had already rented out their houses, in anticipation of moving to Bangalore. Dixons says it does not deal directly with unions, preferring to negotiate with internally created employee forums. A spokeswoman for the company told El Reg that the reaction in the IT department has been "mixed", before adding: "We are doing everything we can to keep people informed". The deal was officially nixed on Monday, and staff were informed then, the spokeswoman said. CIO Iain Andrews is reported to have left the company, also on Monday. The spokeswoman said he was "reviewing his career options outside the Group", but declined to elaborate on whether the two events were linked. Dixons told us in May that it was considering outsourcing its IT function, and later confirmed the plans in an interim financial report. However, it said claims that it was negotiating with LogicaCMG were "premature". ® Related stories Dixons disses AMD claims Dixons preps corporate makeover Dixons to outsource tech support to LogicaCMG
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Jul 2005

Scan 3XS Hoojum CUBIT 5 media centre system

ReviewReview Last month I took a look at a complete Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) 2005 system from small form-factor king Shuttle and was generally impressed. Now system integrator Scan has created its own Media Center system, the CUBIT 5, using the guts of Shuttle's SFF MCE system but employing a housing from Hoojum, writes Benny Har-Even.
Trusted Reviews, 22 Jul 2005

Banks warned over m-commerce security peril

Banks risk exposing customer data to hacking attacks in deploying mobile-phone ATM applications, warns independent security consultancy SecureTest. Up to 20 high street banks in the UK are gearing up to roll-out balance request and mobile phone top-ups using the service, dubbed MobileATM, by the end of the year. The service features security functions such as a two-step authentication procedure, developed following the roll-out of similar mobile applications in the online gambling sector, by developer MChex. The technology features security software which requires the user to enter their PIN and a one-time password to authorise transactions. The server-side security of this system has reportedly been subjected to a risk assessment. But SecureTest reckons it may be possible for a hacker to sidestep security defences by hacking into the source code of downloaded applications and altering it to suit their malicious intentions. Such an approach would create a means for hackers to infiltrate and manipulate the application server, it claims, potentially gaining access to confidential data. If breached, data such as user log-ins or passwords, bank account details and other personal information can be harvested. Once transactional services are added, hackers could even use the application to siphon cash into other accounts, the consultants say. SecureTest bases this warning on tests of other mobile Java applications on behalf of several clients in the mobile gambling market rather than on the MobileATM service, which it hasn't tested. Ken Munro, managing director of SecureTest, said the comparison is appropriate because the same type of technology and distribution methods are applied in both cases. Many mobile phone applications are written in Java 2 Mobile Edition (J2ME), allowing code to be ported between different handsets models. However, this approach also makes it relatively simple to decompile the application to its source code, according to SecureTest. A hacker could intercept the mobile application during the download process, use freeware tools on a PC to gain access to the application source code, remove security features and reload the software. "Freeware decompilers make Java applications easy to exploit by hackers. Anybody able to code Java might be able to do this. Unless the bank has strong server-side validation, these mobile applications can and will be used to harvest sensitive information and, once the banks add transactional capabilities, they risk losing customers' money," he said. SecureTest has come across content and input validation security weaknesses in around half the mobile gambling applications it has tested. These potential security loopholes range from less serious information leakage flows to more serious vulnerabilities. "We're not accusing MChex of planning to release flaky software but we do want to warn of examples in problems with similar technology in different verticals," Munro told El Reg. MobileATM is being offered to banks by cash machine operator LINK. It will initially be available only in a limited form (offering only balance checking and mobile top ups) but LINK and MChex are considering the inclusion of functions such as cash transfers or the ability to extend overdraft limits by as early as the end of the year. Further m-commerce services such as person-to-person payments and retail purchases may be added at a later date. MChex declined our invitation to comment on the security concerns raised by SecureTest. SecureTest has produced an explanation of mobile security risks and advice on how to avoid exploits here. ® Related stories m-commerce security risks exposed Smart handhelds are dumb security risk European m-commerce trials to begin 3G, security drive smart card sales
John Leyden, 22 Jul 2005
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Microsoft passes da Vista baby

Microsoft finally dropped the Longhorn moniker today and “revealed” that its next generation client operating system will be known as Vista when it ships next year. Like all marketing strategies, this means… anything you want it to mean. Perhaps calling the product Windows Vista means it will give users a commanding overview of their information world. Or perhaps the strategy boutique at Microsoft thought dropping the 95, 98, 2000, 2003 act means less chance of dumping an entire cache of time-linked marketing material when development schedules slip a year or two. The corporate video accompanying the announcement went some way to filling in the details. It seems using Vista will, at last, enable you to: sit in front of a computer, show someone your tablet PC, show someone else your mobile phone, get into cars while carrying a laptop and walk through sun-soaked rooms with highly polished floors, even while being buffeted by pulses of multicoloured light. According to the video, it will also make you clear - confident - connected. Which sounds like the job description for a Microsoft major accounts manager, or possibly a mafia hitman. Oh well, at least Microsoft can start printing up the baseball caps, T-shirts and coffee cups that journalists, partners and developers will be happily dropping into wastepaper bins within minutes of the official launch. Oh, and the first beta will be available next month.® Related stories Longhorn following Unix on security? Microsoft must woo partners Black is white in Longhorn compatibility land Now Microsoft 'decouples' Longhorn from .NET
Joe Fay, 22 Jul 2005

Microsoft offers a sneak peek at Xbox 360

Gamers can look forward to better, more lifelike graphics and some exclusive titles when Microsoft launches its new Xbox 360 later this year, the company has promised. At a media briefing in Dublin on Thursday Microsoft confirmed more than 25 titles to launch with its next-generation console, with a further 160 in development. Games planned for the Xbox 360 include flagship title Perfect Dark Zero, a prequel to the Rare game Perfect Dark; Kameo, a family-orientated game; Project Gotham Racing 3; Dead or Alive 4; Quake 4; FIFA 2006; and Ghost Recon 3. Microsoft plans to make its console backwards compatible with current Xbox games; however, if your favourite title is an obscure one that failed to make the best-seller lists, it will be far down the priority list for Microsoft. Stephen McGill, head of Xbox marketing, revealed that the company was planning to make the best-selling Xbox games - of which he claimed there are hundreds - compatible with the console, and work backwards down the list. He admitted, however, that there may be some Xbox games that simply won't work with the Xbox 360. There were some things Microsoft has yet to reveal, including pricing and an exact launch date. Rumours abound that the console is set for a worldwide release on 4 November, though Microsoft has not confirmed dates, other than to say it will be on shelves in North America, Europe and Japan for Christmas. However, Microsoft was more than happy to discuss the power of the machine. Graphics are controlled by a 500MHz ATI graphics chip, and the console is powered by three 2GHz cores. Its 20GB hard drive is removable, so you can attach it to a friend's Xbox 360, almost eliminating the need for memory cards. However, there are two slots for the cards included on the console. The Xbox 360 is certainly slimmer - and Microsoft promises it will be lighter - than its predecessor. The white console is customisable too, with the ability to swap everything from the console's faceplate to the skins on the software interface. Unlike its predecessor, the console will play DVDs straight out of the box - no need for the optional extra DVD kit. User can also attach a variety of media devices to the console, such as a portable media player, digital camera or even Media Centre PC, so music and other content can be streamed to the console. Microsoft is standing firmly behind its Xbox Live service, despite initial speculation raised in some quarters about the viability of such a service in Ireland, where broadband penetration is considered low. There is no doubt about the popularity of Xbox Live globally; figures released on Thursday revealed that the service now has 2 million users, doubling its subscribers in the past year. The Xbox Live service has had an upgrade for the new console. The online gaming service will now be split into two options - Silver and Gold. Xbox Live Silver is free, and will allow Xbox 360 owners to communicate with their friends through the service, access the marketplace, and download new material for games and the console itself. Microsoft hopes that the Silver option will drive more members to the Xbox Live community. The Gold option is for those who want to access online gaming, and also includes the features of the Silver service. Current members of Xbox Live Gold will be able to move seamlessly to the upgraded version on the Xbox 360, McGill promised. Another handy feature that Microsoft was keen to draw attention to was the parental control functions that have been built into the new console, allowing parents to restrict viewing and gameplaying to certain age categories, and also to control who younger gamers can play with and talk to online. Though Microsoft is likely to benefit from first-mover advantage by being the first of the three games console makers to release its next-generation console, a recent report by Strategy Analytics suggests that Sony's PlayStation 3 will win 61 per cent of the next-generation console market by 2012. The report predicts that Sony will sell 122 million PS3s worldwide, Microsoft will sell 59 million Xbox 360s while Nintendo's Revolution will trail the pack, selling just under 18 million units globally by 2012.® Related stories Microsoft cautious despite record quarter
ElectricNews.net, 22 Jul 2005

Frozen Mars bars possibility of life

A chemical analysis of Martian meteorites has revealed that the red planet was probably freezing cold for the vast majority of its existence, casting doubt on theories that life could have had time to evolve on the planet. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology (CIT) and the Berkeley Geochronology Center (BGC) said that the level of Argon present in the rocks could be used to deduce what kind of environment the meteorites had been exposed to. They concluded that the samples they examined could have been at temperatures above freezing for no more than a million years in the last 3.5bn years of history. The research, to be published in the journal Science, is likely to provoke lively debate because, at first sight, the findings appear to contradict visual evidence that water flowed on the surface of the planet. The vast canyons, river beds and many other erosional features have been widely interpreted to mean that liquid water flowed on Mars for many years, possibly long enough for life to establish a foothold. The authors of this new research say that if there was liquid water on the surface of Mars, it was only there for relatively short periods. "Our research doesn't mean that there weren't pockets of isolated water in geothermal springs for long periods of time, but suggests instead that there haven't been large areas of free-standing water for four billion years," David Shuster of the California Institute of Technology told the BBC. He and Benjamin Weiss of the Berkeley Geochronology Center examined two of the so-called nakhlite meteorites, and the famous ALH84001 meteorite, which made headlines when researchers though they had uncovered fossilised bacteria in the rock. They conducted two sets of tests: one to check for evidence of heating, and the other to develop a profile of the environment the rocks existed in before being ejected from Mars. In the second test, the researchers estimated the amount of Argon present in the samples. Argon, a noble gas, is present in some rocks on Earth, and in meteorites, as a result of isotopes of potassium decaying. The gas escapes from the rocks at different rates, depending on the temperature, so the researchers can use it to put upper and lower limits on the kind of environment the rocks experienced. In related news, NASA said yesterday that the launch window for its next mission to Mars will open on 10 August. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will examine the planet from a low orbit, and should provide what NASA describes as "unprecedented detail", possibly more data "than all previous missions combined". ® Related stories Germany backs ESA's mission to Mars MARSIS is ready to go digging on Mars Mars rover breaks free of sand trap
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Jul 2005

Hydra of Texas hold 'em humbled

Supercomputers may be able to outdo grand masters in strategy games like chess but when it comes to the low cunning and judgment required in games like poker mankind still has the upper hand. Human Phil Laak this week beat PokerProbot, the Hydra of Texas hold 'em, in a face-off at Binion's Gambling Hall, Las Vegas. Laak, 33, also outsmarted three of the card-playing programs PokerProbot defeated to win the World Poker Robot Championship, an earlier three-day $100,000 competition to find the world's best poker-playing algorithm. Supported by a cheering crowd, Laak bettered PokerProbot's pair of kings with a pair of aces in a key hand and went on to defeat his silicon-powered opponent in the last of 300 hands in a three-hour exhibition match, The Los Angeles Times reports. PokerProbot was developed by Hilton Givens, 39 - an Indiana car salesman, programmer and sometime poker player - who lost a $100 side bet after Laak outsmarted his algorithm. The end of the encounter left Laak, who also hosts a poker show on cable TV and dates actress Jennifer Tilly, relieved rather than elated. Other card players reckon its only a matter of time before computers undo humans in games of trickery and deceit like poker. "In three to five years, they're going to win," said Kenneth "The Clone" Jones, a professional poker player and occasional computer programmer. Casinos bar technological aids but Poker programs are widely suspected of being surrupticiously used in online poker games, which are growing in popularity. "It [PokerProbot] would for sure make money online," Laak (who's known as "the Unabomber" for his habit of hiding emotions behind sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt). In simpler versions of Texas hold 'em with set betting limits "bots are better than the average person," Laak told the Los Angeles Times. He added that anyone clever enough to program a poker program that can beat a human is smart enough to create a pokerbot that would evade easy detection. ® Related stories Poker site cuts IPO price Online poker firm set to float WTO rules in online gambling dispute Women warm to online betting Isle of Man welcomes US online punters Punters warm to online poker Silicon beats carbon in chess battle Puny human takes on chess-playing supercomputer Related links Don't bet against the poker 'robots', Los Angeles Times (registration required)
John Leyden, 22 Jul 2005

Readers take opposing views on everything

LettersLetters Techscape's Bill Robinson reckons he can see a bit of a punch up on the horizon for HP and Sony, as both firms turn their attention to digital entertainment. A few of your thoughts: "H-P has a strong reputation for technological excellence." Make that "had". I've been a supporter of HP since the 70's, but they are no longer in Sony's league for build quality or support, and their new CEO is cutting support staff right now! You try and get your HP printer or camera fixed and all they will offer is a refurbished model for much the same cost as a new replacement. Most people choose the latter, invariably from another manufacturer. Walter Hewlett was right all along. James This is a nicely written article. Certainly, this "battle" is going to result in some pretty big changes for these companies and our living rooms. I wonder if Microsoft and Apple might think that they are also involved in this battle? I'm sure you had a thoughtful reason for leaving them out - what would that be? Mike Just some food for thought!!! Not sure if I totally agree with you on this! I admit that HP are a big player in the Server/Business/PC market, there's no doubting that, but when it comes to the living room I think they will be stumped. Firstly HP is not innovative any more. Sure they refine their inkjet printers, they improve their ipaqs/pdas and their Servers get faster but where is the ipod-like product that sets them apart? They do nothing and have nothing that sets them apart from the rest. Along with this the merger with Compaq has still left deep scars in the workforce which is damaging the One thing left that customers came to HP for...The people. This in my experience has dented badly HP's ability to innovate and deliver in any market and is something that Mark Hurd is still trying to put right. This is surely essential when you are talking about selling into the "home". If we look at HP's answer to getting into the digital entertainment sector then its all Follow, follow, follow; not lead. They do LCD TVs, PDAs, have a partnership with Apple, do cameras etc etc but where is the leading and unique product, service or brand that will set them apart? I think the living room will fall to the "cool" brands. The brands that people truelly buy with their hearts and not their heads. Here we are talking the playstation community, the ipod community, the film buffs, the gamers. The home is a place where single 30 somethings with lots of cash, wives, children, friends and even pets make the buying decisions, not business people with a balance sheet. I admit that HP shift large amounts of business gear but they are not well versed or competent in competing in what is a totally different market. I think we are seeing a make or break time for HP and I also think that the article would have been better suited if you had used someone like Apple in place of them. The true fight will be between companies like Nokia, Sony, Apple; the companies that have proven abilities to innovate, have the right products and attitudes, have a great brand and who have happy workforces to keep them their. What do you think to that!? Dave I think we have made our feelings about excessive punctuation known on more than one occasion... Our very own Orlowski took a stab at working out what was going on in the debate over the usefulness of the Creative Commons licences. Is Larry Lessig's pet project the best thing since sliced bread, he wondered, or is it, as some suggest, a solution looking for a problem? Sometimes even asking the questions gets you whacked over the head with a steel bar: What an amazing amount of garbage you managed to produce this time. It must be a new record. I don't think I've ever seen so much bullshit based on false premisses and egocentrism and thinking "inside the corporate box". Yeah, dude thats right, you have permanently discredited yourself as a troll and a boot-licker. Bye! F. You I think the whole techo-utopian mindset, which is trumpeted with such fervour by bloggers and Harvard Law professors, but takes hold, at one time or another, of most techies to a certain degree, stems from the fact that real-world applications of technology take a ridiculously long time to get implemented, and this frustrates us techies to no end. You see, just looking at the technology we have available today, we know that very soon we'll be using these all-singing all-dancing gadgets with constant connectivity that will allow us access to just about every piece of information known to man from any device anywhere. We know physical distribution of information is a dinosaur concept on its way out. I know my future kids (I'm in my late 20s) will find it ridiculously quaint that in order to watch a movie I had to go to a store, buy this plastic box with a shiny disc inside, stick in a black device and fiddle with a remote control, or that I actually had to physically transport the disc to my friend's house when I wanted to watch the movie there. They'll scratch their heads when I tell them what a wonderful revelation it was to be able to skip the going to the store bit and actually order the disc from my computer (but not my TV!) and have it delivered several days later. For them, any content will be a few clicks away at the nearest screen, whether it's in the living room, on their mobile device or in the seatback in front of them on a transatlantic flight. What bugs the techno-utopians, or those of us who unwittingly stray into that mindset when we've been reading too many of their blogs, is that we have the actual, raw technology to do all this right now. The average non-techie is still in awe of the shiny discs and amazon's super saver delivery, but we techies are already frustrated that the world doesn't get its act together and offer us this wonderful networked future here and now. What we don't realise is that it takes time for the world to get its act together. It takes time to build the infrastructure, agree on the protocols, and most importantly, figure out how and who to pay for the privilege. As you so elegantly demonstrate, nobody disagrees with the end goal of all these new technologies, nor with the inevitability of us reaching it. But it's the techno-utopians that fail to see that we can't get from shiny discs to ubiquitous infoportals in a day, and the road is going to be hard, bumpy, and they're going to be dozens of double-backs and dead-ends on the way. Now if only we'd be a little more patient maybe we would get there a while sooner. Stephanos Lazy Brits would happily use the web to vote if it means they don't have to shift themselves from their houses one Thursday night every four years. This stunning factoid emerged in the most credible survey we've seen all week. No, really. Anyway, regardless of the reliability of the research, you thought it kind of missed the point: The entire debate about voting online misses the point entirely. Democracy isn't about voting - Saddam Hussein and Hitler both were the regular beneficiaries of elections - it is about counting the votes. Democracy isn't even about counting the votes of winners (they've won, they don't care) it's about counting the votes of losers. Democracy is about binding the losers into the fact that they have lost and of them giving the winners legitimacy. If that legitimacy breaks down then the cost is horrendous - see Northern Ireland - a minority of a minority refused to give legitimacy to the state - or consider the situation in Iraq now. At the moment, the process of counting in the UK is entirely transparent (disclaimer I have been a parliamentary candidate twice): the candidate, or their representatives can inspect the ballot boxes before they are sealed the candidate or their representatives can monitor voting at the ballot station, including getting turnout figures when the voting is over the candidates' representatives can watch the arrival and the emptying of the ballot boxes the votes are then counted for each box so that the candidates' representatives can verify that no votes have been added the final count then takes place in public, and the candidates' representatives can sample the count, examine the bundles and verify the result The verification of the vote can be undertaken by a normal school leaver armed with a pencil and paper - none of this is possible with electronic voting. Gordon Why do they ALWAYS leave out the obvious reasons why people don't bother to vote. The reason why I and many of my friends frequently don't vote is that there is no difference between the candidates, so what is the point? Most candidates stand on issues that I could give a monkeys about, either way. If they want me to vote more often, give me a choice on issues I do care about, and try and figure out a way of making our biased and unfair electoral system a bit less biased and a bit more representative. George More on the whole mobile phones on planes thing. Clearly a great idea whose time has come. And that's the official Reg word on the matter...[You're' fired...Ed]: I read with interest the proposals for aircraft crew to be able to disable voice calls from mobiles during 'quiet times'. How are they going to prevent people from switching their phone to 'manual network selection' and joining a cell on the ground? Does the picocell contain a jammer which blocks out these other cells? Regards, Brian The passing of Scotty, known to his friends as James Doohan, has not gone unremarked upon: They should really save a few grammes for quantum teleportation experiments ... Regards, Mike The discovery of a particularly dusty stellar system makes everyone wonder if it harbours an Earth-like planet. Except you lot. You lot just wonder if Darth Vader was involved: Only one thing can pulverize that much rock. A death star. Matt And finally, a marvellous piece of commentary that we feel neatly encapsulates the essence of all things Bulldog and broadband related: At the end of round two, Standard Broadband has taken a bit of a beating - we don't expect it to go much further here tonight after such a show of megabits...*ding ding* And there's the bell, round three! Wait - Bulldog Broadband doesn't seem to be moving, he's still sitting down in the corner! Hey someone wake him up down there! Ooh, ouch, a right hook from Standard Broadband, that's gotta hurt! What's Bulldog playing at? Oh, wait, we're hearing that he refuses to get up and fight until he's paid again! Wham, Standard Broadband heard the bell and he's giving Bulldog a hammering. Bulldog still isn't fighting! This must be the first time in boxing history I've ever heard something so preposterous! His manager has just come in and slipped him a twenty...it's back on! Bulldog Broadband stands up and approaches Standard...but wait! Bulldog has started running around in circles...he doesn't seem to be working properly! The fans are outraged at this; they're crowding round the ring trying to find out why Bulldog isn't working, but he's not even listening to them! And Standard is taking his time landing some really nice blows in the meantime! And here comes the Referee to take Bulldog away with the manager left in tears and many angry, disappointed fans crowding around the ring. Well folks, tonight's lesson would be not to let amateur boxers in the ring I guess! aD. That's all for now. Enjoy the weekend. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Jul 2005
channel

Linksys consumates union with Kiss

Cisco's Linksys consumer networking division has agreed to buy Danish networking entertainment devices firm Kiss Technology in a cash and stock deal valued at $61m. Kiss's portfolio includes home video products such as networked DVD players and networked DVD recorders. Cisco said the acquisition will help Linksys to develop a compelling networked entertainment product suite. The deal - subject to various standard closing conditions including regulatory approvals - is expected to close in the first quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2006. Privately-held Kiss was founded in 1994 and has 65 employees. Upon close of the acquisition, the Kiss team will be integrated into Linksys. The deal represent Linkys's second acquisition since its purchase by Cisco in March 2003. Looking beyond the acquisition, Linksys has pledged to continue to support and sell Kiss's existing products in Europe. Over time Linksys also plans to develop a suite of targeted products for other world markets. According to market research firm In-Stat, the networked entertainment market reached $3.9bn by the end of last year and is expected to grow to $16.1bn by 2009. In-Stat reckons networked entertainment devices will be in use by around 38 per cent of homes by 2009. ® Related stories Linksys readies Media Center WLAN link Sony updates PSX PVRs with PSP video support Intel invests in three digital home firms Movie downloads will be a big business... but for whom? Cisco snaps up Linksys in home networking assault
John Leyden, 22 Jul 2005
arrow pointing up

Global music download stats spill beans on subscriptions

AnalysisAnalysis More than 180m songs were downloaded legally during the first half of 2005 throughout the world, IFPI, the international federation of recording companies revealed this week. Over the last few weeks, separate figures for the US and the UK have been published, and the IFPI numbers allow us to put them in a global context. For example, the US accounts for more than 88 per cent of the market, despite the fact that 63 per cent of online music suppliers, 190 out of 300, are based in Europe. Apple's iTunes is the clear leader in the market. It recently announced that it had sold 500m downloads. In January this year, it said it had sold 230m songs to date. Apple's numbers don't correspond precisely to the period the IFPI numbers cover, but it's clear the majority of those 180m songs were downloaded from iTunes, or IFPI is underestimating somewhat. IFPI also noted that 2.2m music fans are now signed up to subscription services such as those offered by Napster, Rhapsody, Yahoo, Virgin, MusicNet et al, up from 1.5m at the end of 2004. Again, these figures are estimations, but they suggest the subscription market is not achieving the penetration the business models' proponents might have hoped for. There's no indication how many songs subscribers have actually grabbed out of their unlimited-download opportunity. Looking at potential revenues, however, the subscription model doesn't seem too badly off. With subscriptions ranging from $10-15 a month, those 2.2m subscribers represent six months' revenue that can be no more than $198m, assuming all 2.2m came on stream in January and they all pay a $15 subscription. We estimate the figure is actually somewhere between $111m and $169.5m, allowing for a steady growth from 1.5m through H1 2005. The lower figure assumes 100 per cent take-up of the $10-a-month offering, the higher number similarly all-encompassing support for the $15 monthly subscription. By comparison, those 180m songs will have yielded $178.2m, at $0.99 a pop. Some songs cost less, others - particularly those in Europe - more. So during the first half of the year, subscription services yielded 62-95 per cent of the revenue of single-track downloads. However, while Apple took the vast majority of that download revenue, the subs were shared out among more than a handful of major players. Our back-of-an-envelope estimates for iTunes suggest significant growth for single-track download numbers going forward - the Apple service should hit the 1bn song mark at the end of the year. Apple hasn't revealed the number of iPods it has shipped in each quarter since it launched the player, but from the data it has provided, we can say that it has shipped around 21.26m of the devices since Q1 FY2002, when the first one was sold - ten times the number of people currently subscribing to music services. Some 700,000 people worldwide started music subscriptions in H1 2005, according to IFPI. In that time, Apple sold almost 11.5m iPods. Every iPod owner is a potential iTunes customer, though not every iTunes customer owns an iPod, of course. While Apple sticks with single-track downloads over subscriptions, and with the hardware market titled in its favour, for now at least, its revenue from downloads is going to increase rather more than its subscription-centric rivals' sales are. That could change if users migrate in big numbers to subscriptions, but the IFPI figures gives no hint of that. Yahoo's aggressive pricing will, in part, counter the revenue growth provided by new subscribers, particularly if other subscription services lower their own prices. Napster, for one, has said that it will retain its higher price-point. ® Related stories Apple iTunes sells half a billion songs US legal music downloads up 187% Motorola 'to debut' iTunes phone at UK's V Festival Students refuse to buy a single song from Napster Napster vows to maintain premium pricing Napster's Q4 loss swells as costs surge Yahoo! declares! digital! music! price! war!
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2005

HP Labs also decimated

On Tuesday Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd HP promised that the layoffs wouldn't affect HP's R&D. The changes would be "minimal", he said. But HP has confirmed it is closing DEC's old Cambridge Research Laboratory, and axing three projects in Palo Alto. A spokesman told The Register that around 70 of the 700 Labs positions would go, "in line with the ten per cent reduction announced Tuesday" in what amounts to a significant restructuring of the Labs. Prestige old lag Alan Kay, who was given a sandpit three years ago, has also departed. Kay is credited with inventing Smalltalk, was involved in the design of ARPAnet and fathered the Atari computer in the 1980s. In Palo Alto, three projects will be axed: the Consumer Applications and Systems Lab, the Emerging Technologies Lab and Kay's Advanced Software team. "That doesn't mean we're not interested in researching technology for consumers," said spokesman Dave Berman. Berman said that a tier of three centers had been scrubbed from the org chart, with VP positions held by Patrick Scaglia and Kris Halvorsen eliminated. Scaglia headed the Internet and Computing Platforms center, and Halvorsen the Solutions and Services center. All projects will now report directly to Labs chief Dick Lampman, said Berman, and Halvorsen and Scaglia may find other positions within HP. HP lost one if its most senior researchers Fred Kitson last month. The twenty year veteran was director of the Mobile and Media Lab at HP and has joined Motorola to head up its’ Applications, Content and Services Research center. Researchers without jobs are being invited to make their case in what sounds like a round of speed dating which one source describes as "chaotic". But help us make our own research more accurate by filling us in, here. ® Related stories Emperor Hurd decimates HP HP's Hurd lets us pretend Compaq never happened HP scientists wave bye-bye to the transistor HP Labs demos plastic LCDs
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Jul 2005
For Sale sign detail

MS Anti-Spyware built on MS Abandonware

Heck, if a movie that's in Aramaic can top the box-office charts, there must be hope for dead languages everywhere. And for one in particular, which still has millions of adherents. Released in 1996, Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 cemented the product as the first choice of buggy front-ends to databases everywhere. In fact, if you wanted a buggy front-end to your corporate database, there was no better choice. VB6 won plenty of scorn for its eccentricities, which Microsoft attempted to rectify in the dot.nettified VB.net 7. Unfortunately, this broke backward compatibility. No matter how Redmond chivvied and chided, a large part of the VB6 installed base wouldn't let go. The VB6 fans petitioned without joy, and in March this year Microsoft finally cast these users adrift, and ended support for the tool. However, sharp-eyed reader Carey Bishop spotted this while investigating Microsoft's Anti-Spyware product using Dependency Walker. (Which isn't an open position at the Betty Ford clinic, apparently, but a debugging tool). Yes, it's the beloved VB6 run time. Which means that Microsoft too is now one of the last VB6 hold-outs, and certainly the largest .NET refusenik in the world. Microsoft acquired Giant, the company that produced the Spyware detection program, in December 2004, and lost no time in making it available to users the following month. "This whole issue begs the question," writes Carey, "why is Microsoft using an unsupported development environment against their own guidelines? Just another case of' 'Do what I say, not what I do'... Having shelled out for a state-of-the-art Spyware program, VB6 fans are hoping that the customer is always right. Right? ® Related stories Visual Basic's vileness haunts MS .NET Real cure for the vileness of Visual Basic Could Bill Gates write code?
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Jul 2005