26th > July > 2005 Archive

GTA porn row - whose responsibility is it?

AnalysisAnalysis Who'd have thought that a simple cup of coffee could cause suck a ruckus? The debate over the ins and outs (no pun intended) of the 'Hot Coffee' section in the new Grand Theft Auto is still raging. Background The Hot Coffee mode was first discovered in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PC, released last month. In the normal version of the game, if the player does well enough, a girlfriend will invite him in for some ‘coffee’, a treat merely hinted at audibly. However, a crafty PC tinkerer discovered that by changing one bit in a game data file, a whole new minigame was unlocked that allowed the player to take part in simulated sex with the (fully clothed) girlfriends. A fan-created 'nude patch' appeared soon after, allowing copulation with naked, nubile girls. Here's where the confusion starts. Game developers Rockstar first blamed hackers for inserting code into the PC version of the game, claiming the code was nothing to do with it. But subsequent reverse engineering of the PS2 version revealed the mode in there too, rather putting the boot into Rockstar's claims. Rockstars acting responsibly? It's obvious to most that the game needs to be judged based on the Rockstar content, not the fan-created nude content (otherwise we get into the seriously tricky area of whether game makers are responsible for mod content, which is controversial). Frankly, it seems silly to leave the caffeine content in the game and lock it, if it was never meant to be played. Why not just remove the code? The inference is that it was designed to be unlocked, which makes Rockstar liable for its contents, and any attempt to shift blame looks irresponsible. But by what standards is the game being judged? In the US, San Andreas originally had a 'M for Mature' rating from the ESRB. Under the re-classification, it has an Adults Only (AO) rating. The difference between the two appears to be in the degree of graphicness, and the length of the questionable content. The distinction is pretty thin, and it could hardly be said that which side of the line Hot Coffee should fall on is clear-cut. Indeed, we could almost call it irrelevant, since the ratings system in the US is voluntary and even AO games can legally be bought by anyone of any age - the ESRB rating is only guidance. Ratings across the pond Part of the confusion in the US ratings appears to be down to the fact that the films ratings system and games ratings system are not unified, and game ratings are not compulsory. Consequently, consumers often aren't sure of what they're getting, and it's easy for speculation and hysteria to take root. It also means that people don’t equate the seriousness of violence and sex in games with the seriousness of violence and sex in movies, meaning adult games end up in the hands of kids. In the UK, the situation is a little simpler, with GTA simply having a legal 18 rating, as all adult-targeted games (and films) have. The adequacy of the UK system is born out by the total lack of outrage over here at the content of the game – at 18 rated, like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or 9 Songs, who could be in any doubt that it's for adults? The new AO rating for GTA in the US is equivalent to our 18 rating here, and the NC-17 film rating in the US. The question has to be, why wasn’t the title already AO rated for the violence against women, robbery, murder and, well, Grand Theft Auto? It’s as if all the violence in the world is harmless to kids, but add in a little bit of comedic copulation and all hell breaks lose. Are Americans really that uptight about sex? Instead, isn't it really true that what the US needs is simply a compulsory legal ratings system that imposes ratings on games based on a system the public generally understands, along with a recognition from the public that games aren't just for kids, but can be for adults too? Trends Some will the link Coffee-gate to a growing era of parental non-responsibility. Others will point to the fact that games still lack recognition as a valid form of entertainment for adults. As Microsoft and Sony try desperately to crack the mainstream nut with their next consoles, does part of their effort need to be devoted to the creation of a public perception that games aren’t ‘default’ suitable for kids, just as movies aren’t? While the games industry cries that the seriousness of this kind of virtual depiction isn’t on par with cinema, it also begs to be taken seriously as a mainstream activity. Surely the industry can’t have it both ways? If it wants to be taken seriously, it should regulate itself appropriately. If it wants to be frivolous and offer coffee to minors, then it shouldn't expect the market to grow beyond its state today. ® Related links Hot Coffee background San Andreas at the BBFC Related stories Watchdog pops a cap in Grand Theft Auto Hillary Clinton demands GTA smut enquiry Gaming rocked by GTA smut revelation
Wil Harris, 26 Jul 2005

Eircom to buy Meteor for €420m

Eircom's acquisition of mobile operator Meteor has set pulses racing in Ireland as the former monopoly re-enters the lucrative Irish mobile market. Eircom's successful €420m bid for Ireland's third mobile operator Meteor was officially announced at the company's AGM (annual general meeting) on yesterdy. The news was widely expected, following Smart Telecom's withdrawal from the bidding race on Friday, leaving no bidders but Eircom; a Denis O'Brien-led consortium had backed out the previous week. The Consumer Association of Ireland says the acquisition is good news for Irish consumers, but other parties aren't so convinced. Bernard Durkan, Fine Gael's spokesperson on Communications and Natural Resources, gave the deal a more guarded welcome. "Amidst all the talk of shareholders and rights issues, there has been only a nod in the direction of Irish mobile users who have had to deal with the highest mobile costs in Europe," he said, in an email statement. "While Eircom's arrival in the market may see increased competition, the fact that the State's dominant landline operator is now a mobile player means questions need to be asked." Certainly the Irish mobile market could do with a heavy dose of competition. The two main players, Vodafone and O2, together control around 90 percent of the market. Meteor had been making more of an impact of late to the point where it now controls around 10 per cent of the market, serving around 410,000 customers. But despite Meteor's increasing customer numbers it is still positioned at the wrong end of the market, with a strong dependence on pre-paid customers. The post-paid market, where Vodafone and O2 dominate, is the more valuable segment and Eircom will need to make that evolution quickly with Meteor if it is re-coup some of its €420 million. Eircom is adopting a bullish attitude saying it expects to double Meteor's current market share within the next three to four years. Anthony O'Reilly, chairman of Eircom, is confident that the acquisition will "transform the growth prospects for Eircom," while also promising to remain the low-cost operator of the market. The acquisition puts Eircom in a unique position, making it the only company offering fixed-line, broadband and mobile services to Irish consumers. "The acquisition of Meteor gives Eircom a winning combination of broadband and mobile. This has been our goal since returning to the market last year," said Dr. Philip Nolan, CEO of Eircom. "We look forward now to providing our unrivalled base of 1.4 million customers with our newly acquired mobile capability, as the only company which can offer Irish consumers the full range of services - voice and data, over landline and mobile." The acquisition, which is conditional on shareholder approval, will be funded by a rights issue at a minimum subscriber price of €1.10 per share. The Employee Share Ownership Trust (ESOT) which holds 20.9 per cent of Eircom's shares, says it will vote in favour of the acquisition and the rights issue; it intends to take up its rights in full. Eircom left the mobile business in 2001 when it sold its subsidiary Eircell to Vodafone for IR£3.3bn. Eircom's non-compete agreement with Vodafone ran out last summer. Copyright © 2005, ENN Related stories NTL flogs Irish cableco EU rules against Voda / 02 Irish duopoly Vodafone Ireland admits multi-million overcharge ALTO seeks Eircom break-up Ireland one of most expensive countries for broadband First MVNO hopeful throws hat into Irish ring EU rules against Voda / 02 Irish duopoly Eircom overcharges 31,500 customers
Deirdre McArdle, 26 Jul 2005
globalisation

Software user did not acquire ownership, says court

A Lancashire software house has defeated a claim by its customer to ownership of a database system that took four years and over £1 million to write. The High Court refused to imply an assignment or exclusive licence into their contract. Darwen-based BusinessLinx Limited wrote the software for ClearSprings (Management) Limited. ClearSprings provides accommodation to asylum seekers, charging its services to the Home Office. The software helps it to report on the allocation of housing. The contract between the companies was hard to identify because it was not a single, all-inclusive document. Instead, it had to be identified by the court from evidence of negotiations, a written estimate, meetings and emails. In the absence of any agreement to the contrary, a contractor generally owns the copyright in software that it writes for a client. In most such cases, a licence to use the software can be implied. But ClearSprings, based in Essex, wanted more, including the right to sub-license the software to others. It acknowledged that BusinessLinx wrote the system and that BusinessLinx was the first owner of copyright in the software; but it claimed that certain rights had passed its way. It argued that an assignment of all existing and future copyrights in the software was an implied term in the contract. Alternatively, it said, there was an implied term that ClearSprings had an exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free licence in the software. It took BusinessLinx and its founder, Mark Hargreaves, to the High Court to argue for these rights. ClearSprings' said that it had made it clear from the start that it intended to sell the software on to third parties, and that it had a right to do so. BusinessLinx disagreed. It accepted that ClearSprings had a royalty-free, perpetual and irrevocable licence to use the software; but it said that no mention of copyright ownership or third party sales was made during the initial negotiations or in a letter of 21st July 2000 that, according to the court, formed the basis of the contract between the parties. The software firm accepted that ClearSprings had a licence to use the software, and that BusinessLinx could not sell or licence it as a whole to a third party because parts of it constituted ClearSprings' procedures in electronic form based on Clearsprings' specific input. But BusinessLinx said that the software was just a tailored implementation of its web-based database suite – and that an implied assignation of ownership or an exclusive licence to ClearSprings would restrict its entitlement to reuse important parts of the system. The court agreed, preferring the account of Hargreaves, now the managing director of BusinessLinx, about what happened at various meetings between the parties. Deputy High Court Judge Christopher Floyd QC wrote, "it is to be expected that a software developer will both import pre-existing code into the code he is writing for the client, as well as export it for other projects." He considered that no mention of copyright was made until 24th July 2000 and negotiations over the software continued haphazardly thereafter. He decided that ClearSprings had a non-exclusive licence under the copyright in the software but no right of ownership or any right to sub-license. He reasoned that in future projects, BusinessLinx should be free to use routines that were developed for the software unless a particular routine would make use of ClearSprings' own operating procedures. An implied assignation of copyright is a very rare thing. In January, England's Court of Appeal issued one of the few judgments that supported such a right when upholding a decision that copyright in Dr Martens' AirWair logo is owned by the company that makes the famous boots and did not pass to its freelance designer. The agreement was silent on copyright; but the High Court had reasoned in that case that: "…in order to give business efficacy to the contract, it will rarely be enough to imply a term that the client shall enjoy a mere licence to use the logo, and nothing more. In most cases it will be obvious, it will 'go without saying,' that the client will need further rights. He will surely need some right to prevent others from reproducing the logo." In the ClearSprings case, the judge made a point that highlights the difference between these cases. He wrote: "…in the circumstances of this case, the only terms which are necessary to give the contract business efficacy are, firstly, a licence for [ClearSprings] to use the software for the purposes of their business and, secondly, a restriction on [BusinessLinx] making use of the information about [ClearSprings'] operating procedures for purposes other than those of [ClearSprings.]" He said it was not necessary to imply into the contract a term giving ClearSprings exclusivity in relation to the copyright in the software. Commenting on the result, Hargreaves said: “This is a classic story of David taking on Goliath and winning. I am delighted that the Judge has supported the line we have taken throughout this case,” adding that his company is looking forward to developing the "business opportunities" presented by the judgment. John Salmon, a partner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said: "The result is good news for BusinessLinx, but the dispute serves as a reminder of the need for a clear agreement before development begins. Court battles like this can be avoided." See: The ruling (18-page / 850KB PDF) Dr Martens wins logo ownership appeal, © Pinsent Masons 2000 - 2005
OUT-LAW.COM, 26 Jul 2005
homeless man with sign

Dell leaked email shows channel plans

A leaked email reveals Dell wants to get closer to UK resellers. The company, which prides itself on its direct relationship with customers, is running a reseller event at the end of August. The event is for a "select number of partners" and will include an overview of service and support offerings, a factory tour and a meeting with an account manager. The email was sent by Paul Cawley, VAR sales at Dell. He would not comment further but Dell did provide a statement: "Dell works with VARs when customers ask us to, but we still keep our direct relationship with the customer. This helps ensure we can effectively respond to customer needs." More details on VNUnet here. A source close to Dell told the newswire they expect the event to result in Dell unveiling a formal channel structure.® Related stories Dell sucks another $7m out of North Carolina EC raids Dell in Intel anti-trust probe Dell rejects spyware charge
John Oates, 26 Jul 2005

MS website trumpets 'pyramid' company

A case study on Microsoft.com is unwittingly promoting a company which has been accused of operating a pyramid scheme targetting people in south-east Asia and Africa. This page on Microsoft's website explains how Hong Kong-based GoldQuest International Ltd made big savings by moving to Windows Server 2003. The page proudly trumpets GoldQuest's achievements and "500,000 active customers in 120 countries". "GoldQuest has grown into a ecommerce powerhouse, generating 70 per cent of its $200m annual turnover online," the page gushes. Microsoft claims it has saved the company $82,000 a year in IT costs and helped it increase revenue by $10m a year. The only trouble is, GoldQuest has been accused of operating a form of pyramid-scheme targetting gullible folk in some of the world's poorest countries. The company, based in Hong Kong, sells "commemorative" gold and silver coins. But people are encouraged to gain commission by getting more people to sign up. If you can sell coins to two other people, who in turn must recruit two more, then you start receiving commission. A spokesperson for the Central Bank of Sri Lanka's legal department told The Register that it was investigating GoldQuest with the assistance of the police. A campaigner in Sri Lanka told us: "It's a nasty scheme. I first heard about it in 2003 and even quite educated people have fallen for it." He explained that the company had also targetted Ethiopia, Sudan and Tanzania. Sri Lanka's central bank has made four separate appeals to the public to avoid such schemes. In Bhutan, the Royal Monetary Authority reportedly warned the public about GoldQuest, saying: "The pyramid will collapse eventually when more members cannot be found, besides it does not generate any productivity." According to Iranian state media, authorities in the country recently arrested "some key members of this group," while Iran's central bank declared GoldQuest activities were illegal and against Islam. A spokeswoman for Microsoft told us that GoldQuest is "managed by a partner" and the case study was prepared by a partner for the launch of Windows Server 2003. We asked GoldQuest for comment, but it did not return our calls. More details here, here, and here. ® Related stories FX rip-off dotcom wound-up Compensation for pyramid scheme victims The economics of spam
John Oates, 26 Jul 2005
channel

Intel plans $3bn 300mm-wafer fab in Arizona

Intel is to build a 300mm-wafer fabrication facility in Chandler, Arizona, the chip giant said yesterday. The $3bn plant, dubbed Fab 32, is Intel's sixth 300mm-wafer fab, but will be the first to mass-produce 45nm chips when it goes on stream in H2 2007. Other 45nm lines are already in development at Intel's R&D fabs. Some 1,000 jobs will be created at the site as the facility moves from the construction phase into test production. Some 3,000 workers will be required to assemble the 1 million sq ft factory and install the chip-making equipment. Four of Intel's existing 300mm fabs are located in Oregon, New Mexico and the company's Ireland facility at Leixlip. Arizona is already home to the fifth 300mm fab, currently being converted from 200mm production to the larger wafer size with a view to beginning production early next year. ® Related stories AMD's Opteron decimates Xeon market Intel Pentium M 780 pops up in Japan Intel dual-core Celerons to sport 5xx model numbers? Intel pushes 'East Fork' home PC 'back to Q1 2006' AMD's battle with Intel to go west?
Tony Smith, 26 Jul 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

AMD to raise Athlon prices?

AMD has confirmed it is to cut the prices of its Socket 754 Sempron processors next month. The chip maker has also formally brought its Socket A line to an end, KJ Chou, AMD Taiwan's general manager said, according to DigiTimes. K7 production will come to an end this month, Chou said, though the company will respond positively to specific requests for K7-based chips, in a custom-production fashion. Chou didn't say how far Sempron prices will fall. Socket 754 Semprons are already less expensive than Socket A versions of the same model number. He said that the Sempron line will account for 50 per cent of the processors AMD will sell in Q3 for use in PCs. He also said that the company plans to increase its average selling price in a bid to raise its Q3 net income, suggesting Athlon 64, 64-FX and Turion prices will have to rise to balance the ASP-reducing effect of the Sempron price cuts. AMD last cut Sempron prices in May this year. ® Related stories AMD's Opteron decimates Xeon market AMD's 3GHz Athlon 64-FX 'due Q1 2006' Biostar pitches Nvidia C51-based barebones AMD ships 64-bit Semprons AMD to drive dual-core downmarket AMD trims Sempron, Athlon 64 prices
Tony Smith, 26 Jul 2005
fingers pointing at man

Intel quietly ships Pentium M 778

The Pentium M 780 hasn't yet appeared on Intel's public price list, but the 2.26GHz chip has started to appear on the chip giant's website following its quiet launch this weekend. The 780 popped up in Japanese PC retailers' stores yesterday, though Intel has yet to formally introduce the chip. Intel has also shipped the Pentium M 778, a 1.6GHz low-voltage part. Both chips contains 2MB of L2 cache, but while the 780 supports a 533MHz frontside bus, the 778 will only operate across a 400MHz bus. Intel extended its Celeron M range this past weekend with the 380, a 1.6GHz part with 1MB of L2 cache and 400MHz FSB support. Like the two new Pentium Ms, the 380 supports the Execute Disable Bit anti-virus system used by Windows XP Service Pack 2. The two higher-end chips also support Extended SpeedStep. ® Related stories AMD's Opteron decimates Xeon market Intel Pentium M 780 pops up in Japan Intel dual-core Celerons to sport 5xx model numbers? AMD's battle with Intel to go west? Intel preps Pentium D core update Intel overcomes 'weak' line-up during Q2
Tony Smith, 26 Jul 2005

UK overseas passports go biometric from 2006

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has announced a £5m deal with 3M to kit out its embassies and consulates overseas with the technology needed to issue "biometric" passports. However, the scope of the deal largely confirms that the biometric element is less high tech than we might have imagined. There will be no fingerprints on overseas passports for the time being, and the only biometric involved is facial recognition data. This will be taken from the structural dimensions of the standard passport photos and coded onto a chip, rather than involving complicated specialised photography that can map a face in three dimensions, etceteras. The chip will also include the passport holder's name, age and place of birth. The deal with 3M, then, is mostly about making sure passports issued abroad - and one in 10 British passports is issued outside the UK - are issued as securely "as those issued by the UK Passport Office", according to the 3M announcement. We could probably get away with calling it a standard secure document issuing system with a little biometric garnish. David Cook, general manager, 3M Safety and Security Division said that the goal was to ensure that multiple travel documents are not issued to the same person. "This is just the beginning. To complete the journey, all UK issued passports must become biometric," he added. The UK's 104 consulates and embassies will begin issuing the chipped passports in January 2006. ® Related stories 'RFID the lot of them!' UK ID card to use ICAO reader standard UK EU presidency aims for Europe-wide biometric ID card UK biometric ID card morphs into £30 'passport lite'
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jul 2005

Ofcom sent 135 Bulldog complaints

More than 130 individual complaints have been sent to Ofcom detailing problems faced by customers of broadband ISP Bulldog. The 100-page document was compiled by Steve Collis from Dartford who has spearheaded a campaign to notify the regulator about the problems experienced by some punters. In the last week Collis has been swamped with complaints about the Cable & Wireless (C&W)owned company and is still receiving emails from customers frustrated at being left without telephone and broadband services following their switch to the local loop unbundling (LLU) outfit. Ofcom has so far refused publicly to discuss the growing number of customer complaints Bulldog. Both Bulldog and C&W have acknowledged there are issues yet Ofcom appears happy to hide behind its "process" instead of trying to help customers who've been left without phone and broadband for weeks on end. An Ofcom spokesman told us last week: "If Ofcom identifies a particular clear pattern of complains we will speak informally to the company." If matters are not then resolved then Ofcom would launch a formal investigation, he said. Collis hopes that the 135 complaints detailed in his dossier will help Ofcom identify "a particular clear pattern" prompting it to act on the complaints...complaints like this one received yesterday. I stupidly accepted Bullodog's offer to upgrade my broadband connection provided I switched the voice service from BT to them. They cut off BT two weeks ago since when I have been without any voice service on the line in question. My experience since then is that it takes hours to get through to a human, that no-one knows anything about the nature of the problem or when it will be solved, they never call back and they never respond to emails except with an automated response. So I have been two weeks without my residential telephone line and no indication as to when the problem will be solved. I really don't know what to do next. Or this one. I have already lodged complaints to ISPA and OFCOM because I think the service at bulldog has gone down the toilet and will never recommend it to anyone else. A year ago Bulldog impressed me, it saddens me as to how low a company can drop, considering that I can never get through to customer support and failure to progress my order over and over again has made me lose all faith in the company. I have called bulldog three times over the last eight weeks about sorting this out, taking over a week each time to get through, to fix admin errors that your sales and customer service staff seem to make... Every time I am told my order is progressing, I phone in a couple weeks later to find out nothing has happened and that the order is "On hold"... This has wasted my time entirely. And this from a letter sent to Bulldog... On the day of disconnection from BT, we have had nothing but misery. Bulldog was late in switching our phone line across. When they did switch us we had five days of downtime on our phone. After over 15 calls and hours and hours of holding, we found out that one of your engineers had 'incorrectly jumpered' our phone in the Exchange. Your staff member on phone support said that 'this shouldn't happen that often but recently we've had quite a few complaints', very reassuring. At this point we realised our number was going through to another user's number on the exchange and we was getting the calls from his number. This went on for three days AFTER reporting this on the day it happened. Absolutely ridiculous!!!. And NOW to this day four weeks later we still don't have a working phone line. We are unable to make ANY outgoing calls. Again, after hours and hours of holding, messages being left, emails being sent, faxes being transferred, we still do not have a resolution. Last week Bulldog confirmed it had introduced what it described as "a major package of measures" to help cope with complaints about its internet and phone service. The ISP says it's responded to the "demands of its growing customer base" by opening two new call centres and plans to double the number of customer service staff by the end of the month. It is also working with BT "to improve the provisioning process which causes delays and errors in connections driving most complaints". On Friday C&W chairman Richard Lapthorne blamed BT for some of the problems facing Bulldog saying that "in the area of provisioning in particular, the level of service remains inconsistent". The ISP is so concerned that it is considering making a formal complaint to Ofcom. BT has rejected the allegations made by Bulldog. ® Related stories Bulldog faces Ofcom complaints Bulldog mulls LLU complaint against BT Bulldog intros 'major' measures to combat complaints Bulldog thumped for misleading boxing ad Bulldog removes 'best broadband provider' claim from website ISPA wins assurances from Bulldog ISPA contacts Bulldog over spike in customer complaints Bulldog fingered for misleading radio ad
Tim Richardson, 26 Jul 2005
channel

Time shutters stores

Time Computers has closed its retail stores, which trade as The Computer Shop, because they can no longer process card payments. A spokesman for Time said: "All stores are currently closed. We have a problem with card processing and we're talking to the bank about it. It shouldn't take more than a few days to sort out." Asked if the company could survive such a break in business the spokesman said: "We have every hope of continuing as a business." Time Computer has about 150 stores across the country. The company's direct mail and website business is continuing to take orders. There was a management meeting this morning to discuss the problems and staff have been told what is happening. Time Computers is owned by Burnley-based Granville Technology Group. Granville also owns the Computer Shop, Time Education and Tiny Computers. It employs more than 1,500 people.® Related stories Tiny transforms into e-business It's Time for another free PC offer ASA sinks teeth into channel advertisers
John Oates, 26 Jul 2005

Motorola unveils would-be Blackberry beater

Motorola yesterday announced the Q, a smart phone it hopes will do for RIM's Blackberry and Palm's Treo devices. Well, not until Q1 2006 at the very earliest, which is when the company plans to ship the product, network support permitting. Motorola claims the Q is the "thinnest, lightest" handset with an integrated QWERTY keypad. It measures 11.5 x 6.3 x 1.1cm apparently, which is certainly thinner than the 2cm-thick Treo 650 and the 1.8cm-thick Blackberry 7780, though the Palm device's face is smaller. Unlike the Treo, the Q has no antenna stub. The Q's display is a 2.4in, 320 x 240, 65,536-colour job, and the handset also incorporates a 1.3 megapixel digicam with a flash. There's a Mini SD slot for memory expansion, and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. There's a USB port for wired connectivity. The keypad is backlit, and Motorola has built in speakerphone capability. The device will run Windows Mobile 5.0, and supports voice-activated dialling. Separately, Motorola CEO Ed Zander, speaking at yesterday's Motonow conference, said the company's iTunes handset would be formally unveiled within the next two months or so and would ship later this quarter. Recent reports suggested the handset may debut at the Virgin V Festival, a UK music event taking place next month. Motonow also played host to a preview of Motorola's ROKR music-oriented 3G handset, which may or may not be the foundation for the iTunes phone, though the version Motorola talked about yesterday was not iTunes-compatible. The company also showed off the PEBL and SLVR handsets, the latter a candybar-configuration version of its RAZR V3 handset. ® Related stories Apple to muscle in on MVNO market? Orange UK launches smart phones Nokia 'not interested' in buying RIM Motorola 'to debut' iTunes phone at UK's V Festival Moto aims Push To Talk at Symbian handsets Motorola buys Sendo team, patents
Tony Smith, 26 Jul 2005

Russian spammer murdered

Notorious Russian spammer Vardan Kushnir was found bludgeoned to death in his Moscow apartment on Sunday. He was killed by repeated blows to the head, Russian news agency Interfax reports. Kushnir, 35, headed the Center for American English, whose aggressive spamming practices have angered net users. In the past the Center’s telephone was advertised as a contact number for "cheap sex services". Separately, disgruntled surfers have blitzed the American English Center with nuisance phone calls and returned e,mail messages. Lawmakers are considering the introduction of anti-spam laws but the practice remains legal in Russia and Kushnir remained defiant about his "right to spam". The public prosecutions office of Moscow's Central administrative district has yet to establish a motive for Kushnir's death, but is treating the case as murder. Russia’s Interior Ministry reports 1,935 unsolved murders, 73,000 burglaries and 11,400 robberies between January and May 2005, Mosnews reports. ® Related stories Russia fines text hack spammer Anti-spam success drives malware authors downmarket US tops junk mail list of shame - again Send-Safe spam tool gang evicted by MCI
John Leyden, 26 Jul 2005

Alienware Aurora Star Wars Edition gaming PC

ReviewReview I've got a bad feeling about this, I thought to myself when I first heard that Alienware was going to build a Star Wars-branded PC. I know how much licences like these cost - my wife used to work in licensing for LucasFilm. Believe me, Mr Lucas knows all too well the power of his brand, and he's never likely to undervalue it. That said, if any PC company could construct a Star Wars box that looked great and could make point five past light speed, it's Alienware, writes Riyad Emeran.
Trusted Reviews, 26 Jul 2005

Vodafone kicks Beckham into touch

David Beckham is no longer the face of Vodafone's live! service. The contract was ended by mutual consent but brand Beckham probably won't miss the estimated £1m a year it brought in. A spokesman for Vodafone told the Mirror: "He did a good job for us in promoting Vodafone live! when we first launched it. But we have decided not to renew the contract. This decision was reached by mutual consent." Beckham was more than just a face for the brand. His mucky texts to Rebecca Loos elevated texting to an *rt form.® Related stories Vodafone adds 4m customers Voda's Scottish 3G network wobbles Vodafone launches handset for phone-phobes
John Oates, 26 Jul 2005

PlusNet posts improved numbers

PlusNet - the Sheffield-based ISP - added almost 50,000 new broadband punters over the last year as it continues to pursue its strategy of being a "best value" ISP. The number of high broadband punters grew 68 per cent to 113,084 from 67,383 in June 2004. The increase in numbers helped takings for the six months to the end of June increase 28 per cent to £16.4m compared to £12.8m last year. At the same time operating profit jumped 60 per cent to £2.2m from £1.4m. Commenting on today's interim results chief exec Lee Strafford said the company had seen "excellent progress in sales and profitability". "We operate within a high growth market and our unique, scalable and highly automated business model puts us at the forefront of that growth. The outlook for the company remains very positive." Like others in the industry, the ISP is still on the lookout to acquire other companies as the industry continues to consolidate but only if such deals "would add significant value to the business". By mid morning shares in PlusNet were up 4p to 229.5p. ® Related stories PlusNet ditches fair usage policy PlusNet racks up 100k broadband punters PlusNet doubles broadband numbers PlusNet to trial BT's 8Mb broadband
Tim Richardson, 26 Jul 2005
channel

Fakers beware: no more MS updates for you

Microsoft is no longer providing updates to non-genuine versions of its Windows XP operating system. From today, the company has switched over to a full launch of its Windows Genuine Advantage Programme as part of its ongoing anti-piracy campaign. Users will now have to join the WGA authentication program if they want to receive software updates from the Microsoft Download Centre or from Windows Update. However, MS says it will still provide security patches for pirated systems, which will be available via Automatic Updates in Windows. To register for the WGA, users just need to visit the Microsoft Download Centre, Windows Update or Microsoft Update. There they will be prompted to download an ActiveX control that checks the authenticity of their Windows software and, if Windows is validated, stores a download key on the PC for future verification. Microsoft stresses that this process "does not collect any information that can be used by Microsoft to identify or contact the user". Back in January 2005, Microsoft extended the pilot scheme - which had been running in English since September 2004 - to include 20 different languages. It also broadened the kind of content available to participants. Microsoft says many of the 40 million people who signed up for the pilot did so because they wanted a way to check that their own copy of XP was genuine. The company also says it will replace pirated software with genuine versions - free of charge to customers who submit piracy reports and proof of purchase, and for £61 or £92 for XP Home or Professional editions respectively for customers who submit piracy reports but don't have proofs of purchase. ® Related stories MS updates: real Windows users only need apply MS offers real Windows XP to users of counterfeit software Can my clone use my software license?
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jul 2005
fingers pointing at man

Student in '£250m' software piracy scam walks free

An electrical engineering student who acted as an online reseller of counterfeit software has been given a 140-hour community service order. Alexandros Samras, 33, from Loughborough, Leicestershire, pleaded guilty to four counts of copyright infringement and one of assisting an offender to retain the benefit of criminal conduct at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court, the BBC reports. The Court heard that Samras conspired with Athens-based partner - Evangelos Volotas (who's awaiting trial on similar charges in Greece) - to sell knocked-off copies of IBM business software. "These sales were causing IBM losses of £250m," according to rather fanciful estimates from Duncan Atkinson, prosecuting. The scam was unraveled after IBM called in private detectives who posed as would-be punters to unravel the illicit trade in counterfeit software. Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said IBM's massive revenue losses would normally have resulted in Samras receiving a "substantial prison sentence" but his early guilty plea and other mitigating factors allowed him to impose a non-custodial sentence. ® Related stories Software piracy down, but piracy losses up One in five Brits 'buy software from spam' Small.biz loves illegal software (true) Maximum sentence for SA software pirate MS takes big stick to Dutch resellers
John Leyden, 26 Jul 2005

US army gets raygun for Iraq

US troops in Iraq are set to use a non-lethal energy beam weapon mounted on a Humvee. The ray uses a beam which heats up the skin to a depth of 1/64 of an inch. This burning sensation is very painful but won't cause actual damage unless the subject stays in the beam for as long as 250 seconds. It is hoped it will provide a less lethal way of clearing the streets of (live) Iraqi civilians. Or that's the theory. Testing has been carried out by the US Airforce Lab, which also develops the weapon, which is a "clear conflict", according to Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News. There is concern that the beam could damage eyesight - although probably not as much as an M-16 rifle can. The barrier to using such technology on a vehicle has been a strong enough power source. Researchers claim to have solved this problem, and 15 vehicles have been ordered under Project Sheriff. The "Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System", or V-MADS, looks like an ordinary Humvee but with an enormous, square satellite dish on its roof. Only this time it's not Sky One that'll be frying your brain. Background and pictures here.® Related stories That classified US military report's secrets in full Scientists slam US plasma weapon The mysterious case of the 'gay-bomb' request Taser-happy cops floor suicidal six-year-old
John Oates, 26 Jul 2005

BT hits back at Bulldog jibes

BT has hit back at claims made by Cable & Wireless (C&W) that it is to blame for the problems facing broadband ISP Bulldog. In a statement sent to The Register BT rejected accusations that it is responsible for problems experienced by Bulldog customers who have switched their phone and broadband services to the LLU ISP. BT also maintains that it holds daily face-to-face meetings with Bulldog and that this is the first time that the LLU ISP has brought up these concerns. While both sides are now engaged in a finger pointing blame game, Bulldog customers are stuck in the middle some without phone or broadband services. At the same time regulator Ofcom is not prepared to comment on the matter and instead seems content not to help customers left without basic telecoms services. On Friday C&W chairman Richard Lapthorne touched on some of the problems facing Bulldog - C&W's local loop unbundling (LLU) ISP - and appeared to shift some of the blame onto BT. Said Lapthorne: "In broadband, over the last few weeks, Bulldog has begun to improve customer provisioning. We are encouraged by comments and feedback from customers who are experiencing its 8 meg broadband and telephone services. "However, in the area of provisioning in particular, the level of service remains inconsistent as we work with BT - after their relatively recent introduction of automated procedures - to enhance the quality and accuracy with which telephone lines are transferred to the Bulldog network. "This, together with the interest in our new services, has resulted in higher than expected call volumes to Bulldog customer support. We have recruited and trained further customer support staff, in line with our plans, and introduced automated tracking systems to reduce call volumes. We expect to see material improvements over the summer," he said. The Guardian yesterday reported that C&W was considering making a formal complaint against BT because the telco had failed to meet key performance targets. Bulldog reckons that fewer than six in ten unbundled lines are delivered on time. Of those that are, half had faults. But this has been rejected by BT. The UK's dominant fixed line telco told us: "We recognise that there are provisioning issues and have been working closely with Bulldog over the last couple of weeks to identify and resolve them. "However, we do not recognise the figures quoted in the Guardian article. The article claims that the best success rate BT Wholesale has delivered is 81 per cent - our industry wide success rate is currently 91 per cent. "It also claims that a third of the connections delivered on time had faults - our own figures demonstrate that our fault rate has not gone beyond 6 per cent in recent weeks. The one occasion when the failure rate went beyond 6 per cent was for one day only in June when it rose to 8.9 per cent. "Note also that we have daily, face to face, bilateral meetings with Bulldog to discuss provisioning and they have not raised these concerns directly with us." Bulldog and C&W were both asked to comment on the latest developments but no one from either firm returned calls before publication. ® Related stories Ofcom sent 135 Bulldog complaints Bulldog faces Ofcom complaints Bulldog mulls LLU complaint against BT Bulldog intros 'major' measures to combat complaints Bulldog thumped for misleading boxing ad Bulldog removes 'best broadband provider' claim from website ISPA wins assurances from Bulldog ISPA contacts Bulldog over spike in customer complaints Bulldog fingered for misleading radio ad
Tim Richardson, 26 Jul 2005

Firms warned over SAP flaw

Organisations running the popular SAP R/3 enterprise software package risk exposing sensitive information because of a new security vulnerability, a UK government UNIRAS alert warns. The UK's National Infrastructure Security Coordination Centre (NISCC) said the vulnerability stems from an input validation error with the SAP Internet Graphics Server sub-component of SAP R/3. The flaw creates a mechanism for hackers to launch directory traversal attacks. NISCC rates the vulnerability, discovered by UK net security consultancy Corsaire, as high risk. Users are urged to update to version 6.40 Patch 11 or later. ® Related stories Countdown to SAP R/3 upgrade deadline Oracle taken to task for time to fix vulnerabilities Can Sun turn SOA rhetoric into weapon against IBM and SAP? Microsoft and SAP deepen alliance
John Leyden, 26 Jul 2005
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Game adds on Addon

Game is expanding its retailing empire in France with the acquisition of video game outfit Addon for €6.2m (£4.3m). The deal adds an extra 20 outlets to Game's existing presence in France in areas where the computer entertainment retailier does not currently operate. In the 12 months to the end of March Addon generated revenues of €18.5m (£12.6m) and adjusted EBITDA of €1m (£700,000). Game now has over 650 stores in Europe including 400 in the UK and Ireland. ® Related stories Playing video games 'good for your health' Men like video games: official
Tim Richardson, 26 Jul 2005
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IT jobs on the up

The majority of IT organisations in the US expect to recruit more staff in the next year but they believe any growth will be modest. The best place to look for a new job is the financial industry with 63 per cent of firms expecting an increase in IT staff. Among these firms 22 per cent expect to increase numbers by more than 10 per cent. Gartner's annual "IT Market Compensation Study" is based on surveys from 160 organisations which cover 48, 586 IT staff. The survey found IT staff enjoyed a 3.5 per cent increase in budgeted base salary in 2005, up 0.3 per cent compared to last year. The positions firms find hardest to fill are: project management, web applications programmer, security analyst, database administrator and network engineer. The most sought after skills are Peoplesoft, J2EE Microsoft.Net, Java, Oracle, Visual C#.Net, SAP, XML and XML Web Services. More on Gartner's press release here.® Related stories Onshore coders' salaries rise along with Offshore fears R&D and skills crisis looms for Europe Gates: You just can't get the staff Geeks should 'outsource themselves' - Mongolian BoFH
John Oates, 26 Jul 2005
For Sale sign detail

Leeds Council aims for IT integration nirvana

Leeds City Council has awarded Novell a six year contract to completely overhaul its internal and external IT services as it approaches the government's end-of-2005 deadline for making eGovernment services available online. The value of the contract was not disclosed. The council says the Novell contract is just one part of a much larger systems overhaul. Anthony Burnham, programme manager for Leeds City Council notes: "From a technical perspective, we have over 300 offices around the region with many different departments and found we were running up to 850 different applications across 140 servers." According to Computer Weekly, as well as rolling out the Novell desktop and server applications, the council is updating 11,000 desktops and 300 applications, standardising on a single version of the Lotus Notes e-mail system and, as if that were not enough, trying to build a single Citrix server farm. Once all the upgrades are complete, employees should be able to access a wide range of applications and information from a web browser, through a secure portal. This, council managers hope, will also allow staff to work more flexibly, from remote locations or outside normal office hours. Currently, the eGovernment services are only available in pilot phase. We understand that initially housing maintenance contractors and Education Leeds, a company which manages schools and colleges in the region, will be involved in the pilot. Citizens will be able to apply for planning permission, council property or order leisure tickets online, the council said. In related news, the London Borough of Hackney is retendering its IT outsourcing deal. The contract, worth £10m over five years, is on the table because the borough's current five year deal with Northgate Information Solutions is coming to an end, Silicon.com reports. Hackney says it is looking for bids from at least five, and up to ten, new suppliers. More details on the Leeds announcement here. ® Related stories Brits want to vote online, dammit Industry and govt must converge on convergence Bradford IT staff to strike
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jul 2005

CA aims to curb spam with Qurb

Computer Associates today announced the acquisition of anti-spam firm Qurb for an undisclosed cash sum. Qurb’s identity-based email security technology is designed to block spam and protect users against phishing attacks. The software builds a list of approved senders by scanning existing email and contact folders. People on this list get their email delivered straight to user's email inboxes while content analysis techniques are used to help users identify potentially legitimate messages that have been quarantined. CA has licensed Qurb technology for its eTrust consumer product line since 2004 and will continue to market the technology as eTrust Anti-Spam as well as bundling it in its eTrust Threat Management suite, which also includes anti-virus and web filtering technologies. The acquisition of Qurb follows CA’s June 2005 acquisition of personal firewall firm Tiny Software. Anti-virus firms such as Kasperesky Labs (Spamtest Project), McAfee (Deersoft) and Sophos (Activestate) have expanded in the anti-spam market via acquisition over the last two years. CA's deal extends this trend. More recently Microsoft has been getting into the act with the February acquisition of Sybari, which specialises in protecting messaging servers from malware and spam attacks, and managed service firm FrontBridge Technologies last week. ® Related stories CA makes Tiny personal firewall buy CA buys PestPatrol (anti-spyware) SurfControl secures MessageSoft Sophos buys ActiveState Anti-spam success drives malware authors downmarket
John Leyden, 26 Jul 2005

Shuttle actually lifts off

The Shuttle Discovery successfully blasted off from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral's Kennedy Space Centre, at 10:39am local time, 15:39 BST, today. It is the first Shuttle to do so since the loss of the Columbia in 2003. NASA TV followed the flight from the ground as the Shuttle rose from the launch pad, and dwindled to a bright spot in the sky. Once the twin solid rockets, were successfully separated, the coverage switched to an on board camera (fixed to the external fuel tank) which followed the spacecraft up into orbit. Anyone watching could see the Earth's horizon becoming more and more curved, until eventually Discovery separated from the external fuel tanks at nearly 100 miles above the Earth. Shuttle Discovery will remain in orbit for 12 days, where it will deliver much needed supplies to the International Space Station. It is scheduled to land back at the Kennedy Space Centre on 7 August. ® Related stories Shuttle: no launch this week, engineers still baffled Shuttle grounded Return to flight: the countdown begins Shuttle is go for launch Hurricane Dennis menaces Shuttle Russia and Europe tout new space plane Shuttle to fly 13 July
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jul 2005

3 goes live in Ireland

3 - the video mobile network operator wholly owned by Hutchison Whampoa Group - has switched on its video mobile network in Ireland. The mobile operator claims that while its video network is available to six in ten of the country's population, its standard voice and text service can be accessed by almost everyone. Price plans start at €25 a month for voice and text services. Said 3 chief exec Bob Fuller: "3 was Europe's first video mobile network and we're the largest 3G network in Europe. Our VideoTalk price plans offer a package of voice, content and video services at an unrivalled and sustainable price. "3 has upset the status quo in every market where it has launched in Europe and we will do the same in Ireland by challenging the old networks and bringing great value and new levels of service to customers." Yesterday, Eircom, the former Irish telco monopoly re-entered the lucrative Irish mobile market after coughing up €420m for Ireland's third mobile operator Meteor. The mobile sector in Ireland is dominated by Vodafone and O2, which account for nine in ten users. Eircom sold its previous mobile network, Eircell, to Vodafone in 2001. ® Related stories Eircom to buy Meteor for 420m Bubbly O2 reduces churn Flaws in BT chat sites expose users Irish distie claims top spot Eircom launches sometimes-on broadband
Tim Richardson, 26 Jul 2005

Nokia, Symbian boom as smart phone sales rocket

Smart phones sales surged around the world during Q2 while the pure-play PDA market continued to contract, market watcher Canalys reported today. Worldwide shipments of mobile devices jumped 105.4 per cent over Q2 2004 to 12.19m units. Smart phone shipments were up 186 per cent, but PDA shipments were down 14 per cent, Canalys said. Palm typified the shift. Shipments of the Tungsten and Zire PDAs for which it is best known fell 32 per cent year on year, but that decline was countered by a 200 per cent increase in shipments of its Treo communicators. Palm was the world's biggest seller of PDAs, with a 31 per cent share. Number two placed HP saw its PDA shipments contract 21 per cent, so this month's launch of its Treo-style iPaq he6500 family clearly comes not a moment too soon. Once again, Europe proved a strong market for PDAs, with unit shipments up 18 per cent year on year. Here sales are dominated by GPS navigation and route-planning bundles, reflected by strong shipments from the likes of Acer and Mio. HP was still the European PDA market leader. Palm remains the world's second most successful mobile device vendor in terms of units shipped, but its market share fell, from 18 per cent to 8.7 per cent. It Q2 shipments fell a single percentage point. Research in Motion (RIM), the number three player, saw its share fall from 8.2 per cent to 7.4 per cent of the market despite an 84 per cent increase in unit shipments year on year. The big winner was Nokia, which not only retained its market leadership but increased its share from 33.2 per cent in Q2 2004 to 54.9 per cent in Q2 2005 on the back of a 240.3 per cent increase in unit shipments. Its unit-shipment growth was surpassed only by Motorola and Fujitsu, whose shipments were up 637 per cent and 259.5 per cent, respectively, year on year. Both experienced big market share gains, though their shares remain small: 4.6 per cent and 4.3 per cent, respectively. Nokia's success helped Symbian extend its leadership of the mobile device OS market, as a 214.8 per cent jump in unit shipments pushed the operating system's share from 41 per cent to 62.8 per cent. That pushed Microsoft's share down, from 22.9 per cent to 15.9 per cent, despite a 42 per cent increase in unit shipments. Shipments of PalmSource-based devices dropped 13.3 per cent, knocking its share down from 22.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent. ® Related stories Motorola unveils would-be Blackberry beater PalmOne regains old handle HP stops Expansys importing non-Euro PDAs LG throws PalmSource a lifeline PalmOne to become Palm again PalmSource CEO hands in resignation letter GPS drives Euro PDA shipments PalmSource sees red as device sales decline
Tony Smith, 26 Jul 2005
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Apple updates iBook, Mac Mini

Apple has updated its iBook, but the anticipated widescreen models were notable by their absence. The company also extended the Mac Mini range. The 12in and 14in G4-class PowerPC-based consumer notebooks now run 1.33GHz and 1.42GHz, respectively, and come with a beefier 512MB of 333MHz DDR memory. The machines' frontside bus speeds are 133MHz and 142MHz, respectively. The old ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics chip has been replaced with a Mobility Radeon 9550, though the video memory, 32MB, is the same as before. The 12in model comes with a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive and a 60GB HDD, while the 14in unit offers an 80GB hard drive and a DVD-R/CD-RW device. Both machines' hard drives incorporate anti-damage motion sensors to protect them if they're dropped. The computers now include Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11g adaptors, previously available only as optional extras. The Mac Mini line-up now comprises three models: a 1.25GHz box with a 40GB hard drive and a DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical unit, and two 1.42GHz versions both with 80GB HDDs, but one with the DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical drive and the other with a DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive. All three ship with an ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 with 32MB of graphics memory, and 512MB of 333MHz DDR main memory. The two 1.42GHz models bundle Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11g wireless networking - both adaptors are still an optional extra on the 1.25GHz model. Curiously, that machine ships with an integrated 56Kbps modem whereas it's an optional extra on the 1.42GHz Minis. The 12in iBook costs £699/$999, the 14in version £899/$1299. The three Minis are priced at £349/$499, £429/$599 and £499/$699, respectively. All five Macs ship with iLife and Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger'. ® Related stories Apple bounces back into US PC vendor top four Apple iTunes sells half a billion songs Apple to muscle in on MVNO market? Apple profits, revenue up again Apple updates Mac OS X Tiger Apple feels Intel chill
Tony Smith, 26 Jul 2005

Vanishing HQs, trendy hearing aids and buying Office 2003

LettersLetters Normally when it comes to be time to rummage through the emails you send us, looking for the funny, insightful or just plain interesting ones to use in the letters column, we tend to start serious, and get silly towards the end. For a change, we'll kick off with some daftness, spent a little time in the land of the sensible before drifting back to lunacy for the final few letters. Yes, we're starting with MSN's Virtual Earth. First up is Mata who rightly berates us for missing such an obvious pun: So, to get to the core of what you're telling us: MSN's google (sorry, 'search') for Apple is fruitless? It's not like El Reg to pass up such an easy pun. You're slipping! Cheers for all the fun stories, Mata Peter Nelson was among the politest to point out where the images really came from: At the bottom of the MSN site it says "images provided by USGS." If you search TerraServer you'll see that the most recent USGS photo of Cupertino is 1991, before Apple's HQ was built. Here's the same picture with the date on it. Peter Some readers just wouldn't leave well alone: Hmmm... having FAR too much time on my hands... See the difference with The Voles lair using 1 Microsoft Way Redmond, WA 98052-8300 in each Ron Some just take it all too seriously: DUDE! What are you smoking?!?! your article is a bunch of crap. i hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but COME ON look at the damn maps, the Microsoft map is simply OLDER. it shows the apple campus BEFORE it was built. there is also an ENTIRE DEVELOPEMENT of houses missing on top of it, they just were not built yet at the time the image was taken. remove your story its a lie! John As always, there's at least one reader who really knows - Mr Crouch who helped build Apple's Cupertino headquarters: John: I saw your recent article on the differences between the aerial photographs of the Apple R&D Campus used by Google and Microsoft. I was part of the team that built the Apple R&D Campus, and the Microsoft photo looks like it was taken while construction was beginning on the new campus. This would place the photograph around 1993. A more interesting question might be why Microsoft is using such old data for their service. Google obviously has more recent photographs. Good luck with your continuing "investigation". Charles Crouch, Brussels And lastly thanks to Geoff Heaton who managed to find a picture of Concorde: I wonder how old the aerial photography is on MSN Virtual Earth. I have had a close up look at JFK airport in New York and found Concorde parked at one of the gates. http://virtualearth.msn.com/default.aspx?cp=40.64163|-73.784507&style=h&lvl=17&v=1 Geoff Next up: the codename has been dropped. Yes, Longhorn has become Vista. You have lots of theories as to why: Oh great, so now we can go from all the obligatory jokes about "Long" horn's development time and have a new raft of Arnie inspired "Hasta la Vista" instead when it doesn't ship on time. Heyyy... I get it. Windows Vista is the view of the outside world from within Windows - where exists all those cool features which were let loose. If you're lucky, you can watch forlornly as a journalling SQL based storage wanders by, turn its head towards you and offers a fleeting glimpse of what could have been before sauntering off towards the setting sun... Mike Maybe some connotation of "infinitely receding Vistas"? Tom An interesting thought Windows Vista could be shortened to Windows VI 'VI' in Roman Numerals is six, Windows Vista will be NT 6. Grant For a limited definition of 'interesting', Grant... From Dictionary.com: Vista: A distant view or prospect, especially one seen through an opening, as between rows of buildings or trees. An obstructed view of something very far away? Yep, sounds like Longhorn all right! Tsu Dho Nimh Hi Joe, after reading the story after Windows Vista, I thought I'd see if others agreed with me that it was a cack name... so I Googled Windows+Vista... interesting results! http://www.vistawindowco.com and http://www.vistawindows.com.au/. I wonder if they'll be getting a call from MS's attorneys - or could it shoot Redmond in the foot, what with the shaky ground of the Windows trademark (The Register and others passim). Thought you might be interested, keep up the good work etc., Ross More mayhem from MS, as the software giant struggles to shift copies of Office 2003 ahead of the launch of Office 12 next year: Compatibility is a disincentive to use recent versions of Office. If I send someone a CV in Word 97, I'll be confident my they can read it. If I use the latest and greatest version of Office, I'm risking they can't open it and have enough other, readable CVs to not bother with mine. Cheers Simon Gavin- Your article has me rolling on the floor. Five years after its introduction, our company is _still_ using office 2000... Of about 100 users at my location, only five of us is using office 2003 - and that only because occasionally we need the file repair functions offered by this product - and nothing else. 2003 does a good job fixing corrupted word files. I just last week looked at the price for Office 2003. I have the Select D level prices... for 100 users... yikes. Not this year. The license is bad enough, but they also make me buy 2 years if SA... And if Office 12 is only 18 months away, I can just as easily wait those 18 months and then buy. Funny... by then the SA for the 10 Office 2003 licenses I have will also have expired. I wonder if they by chance did any statistical analysis on max revenue at introduction... At the time I bought Office2003, I was forced to buy three years of SA. odd... elmars I think it will take more than keen pricing to get a significant number of users to shift to Office 2003. The reason for this is actually really simple: It's CRAP. My favourite version of the Office suite was back at version 2. Word 2 for example was light (ok, lighter than today), did most things that you wanted, didn't do lots of rubbish you didn't want, and you had a fair chance of disabling the bits you didn't need/want/like. Coming forward to version(s) 6, the bloat was getting a bit worse, but (compared to 2003) it still did most of the things you wanted and didn't do the things you didn't want. Roll forward again through 95, 97 and 2000 and things are just slipping downhill. More bloat, more pointless "features", more difficult to configure (i.e. turn off the bits you detest with a fiery passion). XP and 2003 just move this decline to an exponential rate. Office 2003 is huge, bloated, irritating, is still really bad at some things, more difficult to configure (impossible in the case of some "features") and simply not needed (and definitely not value for money) for the vast overwhelming volume of users. I imagine I'll be forced into upgrading in a few years - at the point where my version of Office can't open documents from newer versions, and the newer version formats constitute the majority of what's being sent to me. Hopefully this is some considerable time away. E. P.S. And all that without mentioning Clippy. The ringtone business, the same people responsible for the bloody frog, have been complaining that punters are ripping them off by exploiting loopholes to effectively "shoplift" free choonz. Excuse us if our collective heart fails to bleed: I do wonder, how many of these ringtones being "stolen" were pulled from public domain sources in the first place? And frankly, to anyone with the nous to "shoplift" ringtone previews in the first place, delivering them as Flash will be no impediment to carrying on. All it takes is something that can record from the soundcard, and that's as rare as sndrec32.exe. -James Interesting to hear about "Ringtone Shiplifting". My Sony Ericsson k750i actually has a built-in feature for doing just this: you can record any old sound using the phone's own microphone, and then use the recorded clip as a ringtone. Even my old Nokia 3210 allowed you to punch in a melody, note by note, on the keypad -- and then send it by SMS to any other Nokia user. This gets around all artificial limits imposed by file formats. Who will buy a ringtone if the preview is unlistenable? And you can't very well have a phone without a mic. {Although I'd buy one for my mother, if they ever invented one}. And there's another thing to consider before you go bandying about figures like £75 million. If the people who have successfully managed to obtain ringtones for free actually were unable to do so then, rather than actually pay for expensive ringtones, might they not simply use one of their telephone's factory-default alert sounds? Ringtone companies should be grateful that anyone actually buys their overpriced and unnecessary product in the first place, and not bitch about "lost revenue" that never was. AJ While using flash for ringtone websites will slow the pilfering of sample tunes, it won't stop them. There are already applications such as this http://www.hootech.com/Swf2Mp3/ which will convert SWF files to mp3, and it's relatively easy to "view source" to find the location of the original SWF file and download that to play with. I can't, actually, think of a solution. Regards Andrew Moving away from the very businessey stuff, this week we also considered the possibility of Life on Titan: It seems the scientists are having problems explaining the large quantities of methane present in the Titan atmosphere. Could not a very simple explanation be the former presence of huge herds of cows on Titan? There have for a long time been proposals to harness the \'output\' from cows on Earth to provide methane to power cars etc.!!! Mike We readied ourselves to find out what has been happening to the sea ice and ice sheets of the Arctic. Apparently the submarine gathered data is incomplete: So what were the submarines so busy doing that they weren't allowed to break the ice in the 80's? nyuck nyuck nyuck! :) Vince The RNID wants hearing aids to be cool. But the more fashion forward among you reckon that is already last season's news: Our littlest (hearing loss about 90dB in both ears) is getting hearing aids: the new digital ones can do the task of essentially being with you and SHOUTING VERY LOUDLY into your ear(s). So they took moulds of the inside of his ear (which the hearing aid output will go into), and offered us the choice of about 20 different colours for the moulds to come back in. Green! Bright green! Blue! Red! Transparent! Transparent with blue/red/yellow glitter! (We chose transparent glitter. Next time, perhaps orange. For his goth period in a few years, no doubt it'll be black.) I tell you, fashion is already there when it comes to the ear mould bits. OK, so the aids themselves could do with some sprucing up, but the RNID is definitely pushing on an open door. Charles And finally, we recognise that some of you might think this is not in the best of taste. And yet we thought that in some ways it was a fitting tribute to a man in his line of work: From his Obituary - Well known for his gratuitously enlarged anatomy, low cost pharmaceuticals, low interest rates and ability to stay solid in every situation. He is survived by hot teen nymphomaniacs, sexy MILFs and the widow of the Nigerian finance minister. Cheers, Shayne Laters. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jul 2005

Cisco pays $97m to pump networks full of its DNA

Hoping to turn data centers from smart to super-smart, Cisco has bought flashy start-up Sheer Networks for up to $122m. The deal will see Cisco acquire some of the most bizarre marketing speak around along with complex networking software for shuffling data in an "intelligent" fashion. Sheer's entire pitch revolves around the metaphorical links between its networking products and tools used to unfurl the human genome. Sheer is so committed to this premise that its flagship product sells under the DNA (Dynamic Network Abstraction) brand. We're not making this up. "Just as leading scientists worldwide have succeeded in cracking the human genome, so Sheer Networks has decoded the network genome to identify and abstract the four basic elements of the network - forwarding tables, protocol stacks, interoperable interfaces and links - using these elements Sheer has constructed a library of three 'network genes' that can abstract any type of: Network element, Network technology, and Network service," the company tells us on its web site. "Using these three fundamental gene types, Sheer has created the Dynamic Network Abstraction (DNA) layer, a software-based virtual network where Virtual Network Elements connected by Virtual Links simulate the flow of virtual packets. "Sheer DNA hides the complexity of large, multi-vendor, multi-technology networks in a way that makes them transparent and accessible to a variety of OSS applications." Hopefully, some boffins at Cisco deciphered that product description oddity and figured out what Sheer actually does before buying the firm. Cisco will shell out $97m in cash and assumed options for Sheer; however, another $25m could be added to that price if Sheer meets "product milestones." Pending standard approvals, Cisco expects the acquisition to close during its first fiscal quarter of 2006. "Our blueprint for Cisco network management includes a common services platform on which applications are delivered and the ability to support management applications from Cisco and other vendors," said Cliff Meltzer, a senior vice president at Cisco. "Sheer has a similar philosophy and parallel architecture which will accelerate our delivery of Cisco's next generation management platform and advanced applications to our Service Provider customers." Cisco has been on quite the buying spree of late. Last week, it nabbed Danish networking entertainment devices firm Kiss Technology for $61m and last month it grabbed VPN start-up M. I. Secure for $13m cash. Many will also remember Cisco's infamous merger talks with Nabisco. ® Related stories Check Point beefs up spyware defences IBM does the application shuffle and catches Meiosys Moseley mops up Proxim s assets Oracle cures need for speed with TimesTen buy Cisco pushes application optimisation
Ashlee Vance, 26 Jul 2005
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Oh, the 'maturing' middleware market

IBM, BEA Systems and Oracle continue to dominate the application deployment software market, although the big three face the challenges of a maturing market. Analyst IDC's annual survey of licensing and maintenance revenues found IBM top in 2004 with 37 per cent of the market (2003: 35.6 per cent), BEA second on 12 per cent ( 11.5 per cent) followed by Oracle with seven per cent (5.9 per cent). According to IDC, Oracle experienced growth that was twice the market average while BEA continued to hold a "market share lead" in both Unix and Linux. Forty per cent of IBM’s income came from the CICS transaction monitor. Overall, this market – defined by IDC as covering application, web and integration servers, message oriented and transaction server middleware, adaptors, connectors and gateways - grew 6.4 per cent to $7bn. IDC believes this particular slice of the middleware market is showing signs of “maturity” as vendors increasingly push suites of products, spanning application server and integration, for example, rather than offerings customers just a single application server and selling other components of the stack separately as they once did. Denis Byron, IDC business process automation and application deployment software analyst, noted the move towards suites was the biggest change in the market during the last 12 months. This is creating price pressure on vendors, he says. "Packaging things together depresses prices... people expect to get a bargain when you package things together," Byron told The Register. Looking ahead, IDC expects a compound annual growth rate of 4.7 per cent between 2005 and 2009. However, only vendors which go a step further in their bundling plans and target developers will be able to fully tap this growth. As such, IDC thinks vendors should combine application deployment software with easy-to-use tools and frameworks to increase their appeal during the next five years. As well as maturity and price pressure open source is a competitive consideration for the big three. JBoss and Red Hat, with the JOnAS application server, are "on the radar", according to Byron, although he did not provide market share figures for these companies. ® Related stories Sun makes SOA play with SeeBeyond BEA mauled by grumpy Bear BEA: services up, licensing down IBM moves onto JBoss turf with Gluecode buy BEA to triple in size IBM evens the keel in Q2 IBM has moment of SOA clarity
Gavin Clarke, 26 Jul 2005

3 signs up Sony Ericsson

3, the 3G mobile operator, is adding Sony Ericsson handsets to its stable. S-E joins NEC, Motorola and LG as a preferred supplier of 3G video mobiles to the 3 group of companies. The K608i (pictured left) is the first handset to go on sale - it debuts in the UK at start of August. The handset features a 1.3 mega pixel camera, capable of digital still and video capture, as well as support for various smart phone functions such as picture messaging and Bluetooth. 3 chief exec Bob Fuller said Sony Ericsson will ensure 3 "continues to offer the widest choice of 3G video mobiles in the UK. The video mobiles available in the market in the second half of this year are comparable in size and weight to GSM phones, but come with the full range of exciting video mobile features, full-length music videos, video calling, live over-the-air interactive gaming and video messaging." Which is nice. ® Related stories Sony Ericsson unveils autumn handsets 3G battle centres on consumers 3 goes live in Ireland Orange preps September smart phone splash
John Leyden, 26 Jul 2005
Broken CD with wrench

New Vista name, old Windows problem for Microsoft

It could have been so different. Longhorn came close to having an acceptable, if boring, name. Windows 07 and Windows Seven were in the frame. But after four-long years, Microsoft decided to call the next version of its delayed Windows client “Vista” because of the "emotional" feelings it evoked. According to an internal Microsoft memo, here at WindowsITPro, Windows 07 and Windows Seven sold Longhorn short on promised features. Memo author John Williams, general manager of Windows communications, told Microsoft employees: "The number seven didn't seem to have the same emotional feel that Windows Vista did, so the company dropped that choice." The choice "Vista" was predicated on - and we paraphrase: what the product is, what it delivers and the value proposition that comes with it in relation to the competition. Apparently, the final choice on name was given to group vice president Jim Allchin. For all Microsoft's marketing efforts, and Microsoft went through a thousand names, several series of research, reviews and worked across different teams to arrive at Vista, Microsoft's problem remains simple - to do a lot more to push Vista. The operating system has changed significantly since it was unveiled and Microsoft's prime mission is now to convince customers that the upgrade is worth the effort. Microsoft has made it clear Vista wilt focus on traditional - translation "not very exciting to the end-user" - operating system features, such as scalability. In an attempt to spice-up Vista's appeal, you should now expect Microsoft to push desktop and internet search technology and improved data storage. Search is the feature du jour, thanks to Google's success. The importance Microsoft is placing on search was proven by last week's legal action against Google for poaching ex-vice president Dr Kai-Fu Lee. You should also expect Microsoft to promote advances in the next version of Internet Explorer (IE), version 7.0 and not - yet at least - IE Vista. IE 7.0 is expected as a separate product, but that won't stop Microsoft from tapping concerns about online security with features expected to tackle phishing and malware. Meanwhile, Microsoft has said little about the Vista server companion's features or the server's name, which has been known as Longhorn server. Vista Server doesn't have a real enterprise ring to it, does it? ® Related stories MS faces court over Vista Microsoft passes da Vista baby Longhorn following Unix on security? Of Microsoft, RSS and Longhorn Search Wars - the Empire strikes back
Gavin Clarke, 26 Jul 2005
For Sale sign detail

IBM's z9 mainframe monster roars to life

IBM today shoved a new mainframe - the z9 - at the front of an army of hardware announcements that also included new blade server items, new virtualization software and an expanded partnership with Network Appliance. Big Blue disgorged this at an event in New York. As predicted here, IBM will spruce up the zSeries mainframe line by releasing the 38-processor z9 system in September. That box will give customers 40 per cent more horsepower than the current high-end z990. IBM will also have three, smaller z9 models available in September. Observers, however, were surprised to learn that IBM has an even bigger system in the works. It plans to ship a whopping 54-processor behemoth in November with up to 512GB of memory. The new mainframes could revive a struggling zSeries unit at IBM. Mainframe sales have fallen by double-digits the last two quarters and zSeries staff have been let go as a result. Unlike some past, troubled mainframe upgrades, IBM appears to have all the bells and whistles customers desire ready with the z9. Along with the processing boost, the z9 can run twice as many logical partitions - 60 - as the z990, ships with a built-in cryptography feature and an improved hashing algorithm (SHA-256), has the option of configuring Crypto Express2 PCI-X adapters as accelerators and has up to 80 per cent better I/O. IBM pushed the security features particularly hard after taking ages to deliver similar technology with the z990 and losing many sales as a result. Real Linux/mainframe enthusiasts will be pleased to know that IBM plans to have the SAN Volume Controller product work with Linux on the mainframe partitions at some point in the not too distant future. In total, IBM reckons it took $1.2bn, three years and 5,000 staff to craft the z9. The system can crunch through a billion transactions per day, which is twice the number of its predecessor, and it can process up to 6,000 secure "online handshakes" per second thanks to some of the acceleration tools. IBM will use the one- to 54-processor versions of the z9 to try and maintain existing mainframe customers, open new business running Linux on the giants and to ward off threats from Unix rivals HP and Sun Microsystems. Blades sharpened Away from the big iron, IBM zeroed in on some of its smallest servers. IBM has pushed to convince networking companies, storage vendors and software makers to create complementary products for its BladeCenter line of Xeon-, Opteron-, and Power-based blade servers. IBM, along with Intel, have hoped to foster some level of standardization in the blade market with their products of course being the standards companies such as HP, Dell and Sun Microsystems are eventually meant to adopt. Along those lines, IBM dangled CipherOptics, Cisco, Nominum, QLogic and SANRAD as new customers willing to build products for the BladeCenter line. In addition, IBM "announced the intention to form an industry community around BladeCenter called Blade.org." The first members of this "community"- another word for a list - are Brocade, Cisco, Citrix Systems, IBM, Intel Corporation, Network Appliance, Nortel, Novell and VMware. This marks the first time we recall a vendor using an entire press release to declare its "intention" to start a web site, but if any company could pull off the feat, it's IBM. Surely, it could have put its army of bloggers to work to get more than this on the site. IBM also announced Version 2.0 of its Virtualization Engine package, which combines a number of different applications to let customers manage a wide range of server and storage hardware. Last and probably not least, IBM spiced up its buddy act with NetApp. Big Blue already resells NetApp's NAS (network attached storage) line, and now the companies plan to create tighter bonds between their storage management software products. In particular, the SAN Volume Controller package will soon work with NetApp's V-Series virtualization boxes and NetApp's NAS line. There is some nice analysis of the new z9 available here for free.® Related stories IBM preps big iron fiesta IBM evens the keel in Q2 IBM UK mainframe workers train their South African replacements
Ashlee Vance, 26 Jul 2005

TI reaps wireless boom

Texas Instruments reported a net income of $628m on revenue of $3.23bn in its 2Q 2005 earnings, announced yesterday. The revenue is almost exactly the same as a year ago, but an improvement on the previous quarter. Revenue from analog chips grew 13pc, and revenue from DSPs, the cornerstone of the company's revival over the past decade, grew by 8pc from Q1. The company pointed to the Slingbox PC TV adaptor and a major win from Samsung for HD-TVs. The company rewarded shareholders with a $2bn share buyback and increased the dividend, which will be due in October, by 20 per cent. TI ended the quarter with a cash pile including short term investments of $4.47bn before the buybacks and dividends begin. TI issued guidance of $3.29bn to $3.56bn for Q3. ® Related stories TI meets lowered Q1 forecast TI cuts Q1 sales forecast TI delivers on single-chip promise
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Jul 2005

Amazon delivers shipshape Q2

Amazon.com reported higher sales, but slightly lower net income in its 2Q 2005 earnings statement. Net profit was $52m, down from $76m a year ago, largely because of a tax bill. Sales were up 26pc from the same time last year at $1.75bn for the quarter. But investors were cheered because revenue growth is outpacing the cost of those sales, leading to a higher gross margin. For the full year, Amazon.com issued guidance of between $8.275bn and $8.675bn gross revenue, 20pc to 25pc up on 2004, and operating income in line or slightly up on last year at $415m to $515m. Third party sales now account for 28pc of Amazon's revenue. The company ended the quarter with a cash pile of $629m, so in the dog-eat-dog word of retail consolidation Amazon looks less like a predator and more like a tasty snack. ® Related stories Amazon.com goes nuclear on Avis, Orbitz Amazon profits go down the Swanee Amazon's 'morning nightmare' lasts 11 days, and counting
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Jul 2005