Real Networks reported a profit of $4.7m on income of $82.6m in the quarter ending June 30, Q2 2005. That's up 26 per cent year on year. It was helped along by the $7.59m sale of its investment in MusicNet, but even without the gain, it's close to break even. The company noted that long running antitrust litigation expenses cost it $4.65m in the quarter, an increase over Q1. Marketing its Rhapsody service cost $6.5m in the quarter. Real has 2 million subscribers, up from 1.55m at the end of last year, and these subscribers contributed to more than half of its gross revenue, $47.8m. However the number of music subscribers only just topped the million mark in the quarter, at 1.15m, up from 975m in the previous quarter. The company raised its outlook for the year to between $323m and $333m. ® Related stories RealNetworks sneaks a profit Microsoft mulls music subscriptions Real sees revenues up, losses narrow Nokia N91: an iPod-class contender?
Microsoft has re-organized its US sales force to increase the focus on specific industries while recruiting individuals with specialized knowledge of vertical sectors. Under a project called Tailwind, Microsoft has reduced the number of sales districts from 17 to 12 whilst enlarging the size of five districts. Microsoft is also recruiting staff with specialized knowledge of specific vertical markets. Part of Project Tailwind saw Microsoft double the number of staff in the field selling Office to more than 1,000, a move alluded to last month by the vice president for Microsoft's Information Worker product management group Chris Capossela. A Microsoft spokeswoman told The Register the changes at the district level under Project Tailwind were necessary in order to "achieve an economy of scale in organizing local account teams by industry focus." Microsoft is also "hiring hundreds of experts from their fields" as an investment to help partners in vertical sales, she said. Microsoft already uses vertical units to help sell to sectors like banking, however Project Tailwind appears to represent a deeper effort to engage with customers. The new push wraps up all of Microsoft application and operating system software for the desktop and server while addressing all sizes of customers in vertical sectors, including the small and medium businesses markets. Microsoft's senior management last week outlined plans for "Premium" editions of Office and Windows in the Windows Vista "time frame" while executives used the company's world wide partner conference to talk-up Windows bundles for the mid-market. The changes come at a critical time for the company, with Microsoft expected to use the coming 18 month period to finally launch new versions of Windows, SQL Server, Visual Studio and BizTalk Server. Directions on Microsoft lead analyst Paul DeGroot said Microsoft is trying to rectify the perception "they don't understand my business" in order to sell more copies of software like Office, which dominates the market for PC-based personal productivity applications. "The big issue for Microsoft is the long-term knock," DeGroot said. "They write horizontal stuff. Until now it's never been an issue. Everybody can use Office, Exchange and SQL Server. Now Office is on 90 per cent of desktops, it's really hard to make a significant increase in sales."® Related stories Microsoft charging more, giving more? Window closing on Office 2003 Look out IBM, here comes Microsoft's OzFest Microsoft looks to partners to force Office upgrades
Few visitors to IBM's Almaden research lab in 1999 and 2000 can fail to have been impressed by its lead in web search. IBM's Clever project both predated and informed what became Google: Brin and Page cited the Almaden work in their 1998 paper The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine [pdf, 124kb]. Google drew on the same concept, which they were to trademark and market as PageRank™ of using the link structure to infer quality and authority. But the Clever team was already thinking way beyond PageRank™. Your reporter was one such visitor more than five years ago and was struck by the scope and depth of the work. For example, in 1998 the Clever team was publishing its research into hierarchical topic taxonomies, and inferring web communities. Today, such subjects are presented to conferences of former HTML coders (today's wiki-fiddlers) who appear to be hearing the topics for the first time, such is their wide-eyed wonderment. Working within IBM also allowed the team to draw on its rich history of database research and linguistic analysis, and at IBM you try not to lose your customers' data. Google's fate is well known. After last year's IPO it became one of the wealthiest technology companies on the planet, and its founders are billionaires. And Clever? Well, IBM appeared to have some inkling that the project was valuable to it. A spin-off was discussed, but never followed through, and IBM officially welcomed licensees at one stage. But Clever was never allowed the opportunity to compete directly with the commercial search rivals, so we never really saw its potential. Clever's trajectory in some ways mirrors that of IBM's relational database work. With its System*R project, IBM had built the first implementation of the Relational Database in the early 70s, but bureaucratic infighting hampered the researchers' desire to turn it into real product for IBM's customers. Ingres was first to get an RDBMS out of the door and Oracle's single-minded marketing won it big inroads into the new market in the 1980s. "We were convinced IBM would never ship" Jim Gray later recalled (in one of the best oral histories of a computer project on the net). Now, however, Yahoo! has hired several of the Clever team and plans to recruit more. Last week the New York Times reported that Prabhakar Raghavan, one-time project leader had been recruited from Verity, where he was chief scientist and CTO. Another staffer, Andrew Tomkins, is also on his way to Yahoo!, the Times reported. These guys have their work cut out. Web chaff beyond sorting? "The World Wide Web of today is dramatically different from that of just five years ago," the team noted in 1999. "Predicting what it will be like in another five years (2004) seems futile. Will even the basic act of indexing the Web soon become infeasible?" For a few years, it looked an improbably pessimistic question. But pessimists make the best engineers in the long run, and this now seems prescient. Google's link-based algorithms were soon imitated by rivals, and as a consequence all today's search engines today must now mine a web stuffed with synthetic documents of little relevance to anyone, many of which are generated by machines on behalf of the customers of the more unscrupulous SEOs (Search Engine Optimizers) It's an algorithm arms race, and the SEOs themselves know the scale of the problem they nurtured. Some estimate as much as a third of the web is fake, machine-generated pages and Google can't really tell which third it is. Meanwhile, neither Yahoo! Google nor MSN can still offer the most basic improvements on what AltaVista offered in 1996. queries sorted by date. Want a listing of Tony Blair's comments about Iraq published between June and August 2003? Forget it. AltaVista could do this then, and still can, but none of the big three can match this most basic of requests Because rigging the search engines is so profitable, the junk web or "Web 2.0" as it's called, proliferates and mutates like a superbug. Each new solution to the problem is quickly co-opted by spammers and gamers. For example, last year's "tagging" craze is becoming this year's mortgage and Viagra scam. Some maintain the web's problems can't be solved technically - but only politically or economically, for example by the application of compensation models which allow the really good data hoarded by database holders to be opened to the public at last. That may prove to be true: the are many flavors of private and public networks, we use a mixture every day, and that mixture will change over time. The reassembled Clever team at Yahoo! may not even be offered a chance to answer the question. The Times reports that the team itself is being directed to searching digital media, and hints that some areas of their earlier work remain IBM's intellectual property. By some irony, we note that one of Sergey Brin's student projects was also searching digital media, only as a kind of RIAA enforcer. The system he developed was for the "automated detection of copyright violations", and was unfortunately called COPS (the COpyright Protection System). Fortunately, Sergey was more interested in developing a general purpose data mining application. Would he make the same choice today? Surely something must be done to renew the original raison d'etre behind both Google and Yahoo! - finding good stuff. The world in which an "I'm Feeling Lucky" button was even conceivable seems to belong to a distant past. Google would rather sell you a shirt on Froogle, and Yahoo! would rather show you the way to the Coliseum, offering you a package tour that includes the ticket admission. And the former search leader's priorities seem to be elsewhere. In recent months Google has patented a widely used business method and beefed up its DC lobbying muscle, and last week's legal dispute over the hiring of a "search expert" by Google from Microsoft sounded thoroughly phoney and synthetic on both sides. The Clever team that Yahoo! is reassembling are the genuine article. Perhaps if the management permits them, they'll be able to answer the question - Whatever happened to search?® Related stories Google seeks RSS ad patent Yahoo! buys! bloated! widgets! Search Wars - the Empire strikes back Are you trying to be funny? If so check [ ] this box Lookout, France! Google hires neo-con headbanger Strength through pessimism! Keeping your stuff safe
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Software company Sage Ireland has continued its shopping spree with the acquisition of Delta Systems, a customer relationship management (CRM) software firm. The firm is remaining tight-lipped about the asking price, and has yet to specify the terms of the deal. However, weekend media reports have indicated that Delta sold for a six-figure sum. Established in 1992, Delta Systems specialises in CRM, customer service and support, and e-business solutions. It is the accredited sole distributor of FrontRange's GoldMine systems in Ireland and has a list of high-profile clients including Canon, KPMG, VHI, BUPA, Anglo Irish Bank, Enterprise Ireland and BMW. Founder and managing director of Delta Systems David Larkin will move to Sage, taking up the position of general manager at CRM Solutions, an operating division of Sage Ireland, at the company's Citywest premises. In a statement on Delta Systems' website, Larkin assured customers that it will be "business as usual for all", and that the company will remain committed to the FrontRange products. The purchase of the CRM firm indicates further moves by Sage into the customer relationship market, bringing the necessary skills, capability and domain knowledge to build on the company's position. The merger has expanded the company's CRM offerings; Sage's own products include Act!, SalesLogix and ACCPAC CRM, and the company will continue to act as a partner for GoldMine, Heat and GoldMine BCM Corporate Edition products. This latest acquisition is the most recent in a long line for Sage Ireland. The Irish arm of the company was set up in 1999 to provide businesses with local support and services and has made a number of acquisitions since to further cement its position in the market. Past purchases include rival accountancy software firm Service Software Accounting Package (SSAP), ACCPAC and Dublin-based Denver Manufacturing in 2004, and a raft of 2003 buyouts that included Timberline, Grupo Sp and Softline. Sage employs more than 220 people in Ireland and 5,000 worldwide. The Irish division of the company provides software to over 50,000 customers across the country, most of which are small and medium businesses and accounting firms. © ENN Related stories Sage ups H1 profits Sage buys Spanish biz for £55m Irish eyes are smiling for Sage
Intel is to depart the low-end desktop chipset market later this year, unnamed sources from within Taiwan's motherboard-maker community have alleged. The claim was reported by DigiTimes today, which also noted Intel's unwillingness to comment on the matter, either now or in the form of a formal public announcement. It has, apparently, told some first-tier mobo makers and OEMs, and that's it. The move is related to claims that Intel will kill off its 865 chipset family, along with its 915PL an 915GL chipsets, according to the same sources. If Intel exits the entry-level chipset market as alleged, the move would see the end of the 845 series, the 848P and the 910GL too. Eliminating these products makes some sense. New mainstream and high-end desktop chipsets are coming next year, and these will inevitably push today's offerings down-market. Intel is driving hard on both PCI Express, multi-core processors, and new CPU technologies such as virtualisation and 64-bit addressing. All of these are likely to move quickly into the mainstream and further down-market, and they will all need new chipsets to make the most of these technologies. Intel's decision to promote platforms of products rather than processors alone has been said by some observers to weaken the third-party chipset market - simply, it will be harder for other chipset makers like ATI, SiS and VIA to compete. Any move on Intel's part to open up the value end of the market, may be seen as an attempt to provide more room for such players who would otherwise focus on chipsets for AMD CPUs. Ceding the entry-level market allows Intel to focus on higher-value, higher-price parts - if, of course, that is what it's planning to do. ® Related stories Intel to build DRAM units into desktop, mobile CPUs? Intel trims Centrino, Celeron prices Intel pitches Pentium M-based 'Sossaman' server chip Nvidia lost market share in Q2 Intel dual-core Celerons to sport 5xx model numbers? Intel pushes 'East Fork' home PC 'back to Q1 2006'
The Office of National Statistics has announced that it is to digitise 250m records of births, marriages and deaths dating back as far as 1837. The department has signed a three-year contract with Siemens Business Services to create a database of the documents, and says that part of the work will be carried out offshore, to keep costs down. The project, known as DoVE (Digitisation of Vital Events), will require Siemens to scan, digitise and index the records. The ONS currently keeps its records on microfilm, which Siemens will scan here in the UK. The encrypted data will then be sent to another Siemens facility in India where it will be plugged into the database, and returned to the UK. The plan is to have the database in place by 2008. The Passport Service plans to use the database to double check the identity documents submitted with passport applications, according to online news site Silicon.com. The report also quotes Ovum analyst Phil Codling as saying that this is the first deal in which a government agency has stated publicly that it is offshoring work to cut costs. But how secure is it to send all the documents with which we can prove our identities offshore to be processed? Do we need to worry about identity theft? Codling told us: "Simply mentioning records and personal identity in the same sentence as India has sparked a fairly predictable debate in the press. The difference is that this is a large public sector deal, rather than a large private sector company, such as a bank. "The ONS has been at pains to point out the security precautions it is taking. The workers won't be able to take laptops or mobile phones into the rooms where they are working with the data, for instance. They'll be working at dumb terminals with no internet access," he said. Codling argues that there is no evidence to suggest India is any less secure than any other country. "This is about perception of risk, rather than actual risk," he concluded. The ONS says it wants to reduce the time it takes to deal with applications for copies of certificates, and that digitising the documents will make the service more efficient. Carrie Armitage, Project Director from ONS said in a statement: "It is essential to create new solutions to save time and money and give better service to the public, particularly as there is a growing number of applications for certificates." ® Related stories Onshore coders' salaries rise along with Offshore fears R&D and skills crisis looms for Europe Offshoring jobs threat 'exaggerated' - WTO
Revenues at Marconi remain "stable", the UK telecoms equipment maker announced today. Takings from continuing operations for the three months to the end of June (Q1) were £285m compared to £289m during the same period last year. This was boosted by a strong performance from Marconi's operations in Asia Pacific and an increased rate of broadband access network deployment in the UK. However, this was offset by a decline in data networks in the UK and Italy. Q1 loss from continuing operations climbed to £36m compared to a loss of £11m last year. Much of this was due to £27m restructuring costs after Marconi failed to win a slice of business from BT's £10bn investment in its new 21st Century Network (21CN). As a result, Marconi announced plans in May to axe 800 workers in the UK, a move that was widely expected following Marconi's failure to become a preferred supplier for 21CN. Although BT had said Marconi's telecoms gear was up to scratch, the UK's dominant fixed-line telco said that Marconi's price just wasn't competitive. The restructuring is expected to give Marconi room to "dismantle much of the current UK-based central operations organisation leading to significant cost savings". The company is also looking at introducing other "overhead cost reduction initiatives" across the whole business in a bid to save money. Speaking today Marconi chief exec Mike Parton said that despite recent set backs the company's order book looked "healthy". "We achieved solid results in the quarter despite a very competitive marketplace. We have seen new wins for our next-generation products with customers such as Cable and Wireless and Vodafone. "Despite continuous and significant changes in our industry's dynamics the business has been stabilised giving us the opportunity to consider the best future from this stronger base," he said. By mid morning shares in Marconi were down 4.85p at 268.65p. ® Related stories MPs accuse BT of 'exploiting low wages in China' DTI reaches out to struggling Marconi Marconi culls 800 jobs Unions hold powwow with Marconi over job fears Marconi mulls bleak future following BT bombshell Job fears haunt Marconi Marconi savaged after failure to win BT 21CN deal
God alone knows what NatWest customer Chris Lancaster has done to offend the bank's card issuing department, but it recently sent him a new cash card on which he is gloriously identified as "Dick Head". Or rather, his new title in full is Mr C Lancaster Dick Head, prompting the 18-year-old Essex man to lament to UK tabloid the Sun: "I know I've been overdrawn a few times and got a few £30 charges but I’ve done nothing to deserve this." Mr Lancaster is, of course, merely the latest victim of the great British pastime of "Let's stick something abusive on the cash card/electric bill/council tax demand". We are reminded of the outraged old chap - quite possibly a highly-decorated war hero if the Sun was reporting it - who got a bill from his local town hall addressed to "A C**t". And, of course, long-term readers of El Reg will recall the shocking case of our very own "Dr Really Evil". Ho ho. ® Related stories Hello, I'd like to speak to Dr Really Evil please
AMD yesterday raised the prices of its Opteron 1xx series by up to 91.6 per cent, saying the hikes were justified by the addition of support for cheap unbuffered ECC memory to the chips. On Monday, after AMD had cut prices across a number of its processor families, including the Opteron 2xx and 8xx series, the Opteron 152 chip was priced at $417. Today, it costs $799. The 150 and 148 saw similar price jumps: from $278 to $367 (a 32 per cent increase) and from $218 to $263 (20.6 per cent), respectively. The 146's price rose a more modest 2.8 per cent, from $178 on Monday to $183 on Tuesday. The only chip whose price fell yesterday was the 144, which went from $163 to $125, a fall of 23.3 per cent. The Opteron 142 was dropped from the price list. The latest Opteron 1xx chips support unbuffered ECC memory; older versions with registered memory support will still be made available to customers who request them, AMD said, but they will clearly not be part of the standard off-the-shelf line-up. Ironically, Marty Seyer, head of AMD's server and workstation chip division, said the new chips would "help to reduce their overall solution costs". AMD said Sun was one of the first workstation vendors to realise the benefits of the Opteron 1xx series' ECC memory support, in its Ultra 20 workstation. AMD still hasn't shipped dual-core Opteron 1xx processors, but it yesterday pledged to do so by the end of August. The dualies will also support ECC memory, it said. So too will future versions of both single- and dual-core 1xx CPUs that support DDR 2 SDRAM. The dual-core Opteron 165 and 175 will cost $417 and $530 when they ship, AMD said. ® Related stories AMD Q2 market share slips AMD takes knife to price list Iwill readies 64GB two-way Opteron mobo NEC rejects AMD subpoena demands AMD to raise Athlon prices? AMD's Opteron decimates Xeon market AMD's 3GHz Athlon 64-FX 'due Q1 2006'
Tech Data’s second quarter earnings could be almost 50 per cent lower than expected because of continued problems at its EMEA operation, the distribution giant confirmed yesterday. Preliminary results released Tuesday show net sales for the quarter ending 31 July will come in between $4.8bn and $4.82bn, while net earnings will be $12.5m to $16.5m. Tech Data had expected sales of $4.7bn to $4.85bn, generating net income of $24m to $27m. The figures exclude the costs of its ongoing EMEA restructuring program. Tech Data said its Americas region had performed well, but European operations had “impacted our overall earnings expectations for the quarter.” Gross margins were down, “principally in the EMEA region.” The overhaul of the European unit begun last quarter should boost operating performance in the region. It added that the outlook excluded “any potential impairment charges for deferred tax assets, goodwill and other long-lived assets, which could be material, resulting from the decline in our EMEA operating performance.” ® Related stories Ingram Micro sales well up in Q2 C2000 extends credit lines for SME resellers Tech Data ' pales beside Ingram Micro' - CSFB IT distributors have 'compelling valuations'
A Chinese cyber-dissident has been jailed for five years for posting essays and reports - including the lyrics of a punk song - on the net. Zhang Lin has been behind bars since January this year for posting material which authorities described as "contrary to the bases of the constitution". A court in Benghu in Anhui province, west of Shanghai, jailed him last week for "violating national security" because he "jeopardised national unity and territorial sovereignty, spread lies and disturbed public order and social stability". International media rights group Reports Without Borders said it was outraged at the decision and called for his immediate release. "The Chinese judges were deaf to Zhang's plea of not guilty on the basis of the right to free expression because, in their view, expressing oneself on the internet is a crime that deserves five years in prison," said Reporters Without Borders. News of this latest crackdown comes as China last month confirmed plans to establish "a long-term mechanism" to monitor internet cafes, which are visited by some 40m people a day. Over the last couple of years China has closed thousands of net cafes amid fears that they can affect the "mental health of teenagers" while spreading "unhealthy online information". ® Related stories China opens net addiction clinic China hits net gambling hard 14 knifed in Chinese cybercafe attack China urges ISPs to sign 'self-disciplinary' pact Chinese youths trash Internet café China shuts 8,600 cybercafes Chinese province issues swipe IDs to Internet cafe users China clamps down on Net cafes again
The battle between Research in Motion (RIM) and NTP is far from over. Yesterday, the US Court of Appeal overturned a lower court verdict that RIM had infringed NTP's patent-protected email-by-radio method. However, the appeals court reaffirmed a lower court judgement that RIM had infringed NTP's patent for a wireless email system. This week's ruling follows on from the Court of Appeal's December 2004 verdict that the lower court had been right to decide that RIM had infringed a number of claims made in patents held by NTP. At the time, the appeal court also cast down the injunction banning the sale of RIM's Blackberry devices in the US. The injunction had been imposed by the lower court but stayed pending the appeal. The latest verdict essentially narrows the scope of the appeal court's own, earlier ruling. From the original 16 claims made by NTP against RIM only seven now remain. NTP was still bullish, despite what might be seen as a pro-RIM verdict. "All we need is just one claim to shut them down," NTP lawyer James Wallace said, according to a Reuters report. In June, the US Patents and Trademarks Office struck down two NTP patents, leaving active only one of the five the company had originally alleged RIM infringed. That single patent contains five of the seven claims the appeal court this week referred back to the lower court. NTP plans to appeal against the USPTO ruling. In March this year, the two companies announced they had reached an out-of-court settlement, with RIM set to pay NTP $450m for a right to the latter's technology. But in June, RIM went back to court, claiming NTP hadn't stuck to its side of the bargain and was trying to wriggle out of certain parts of the deal. ® Related stories Nokia 'not interested' in buying RIM RIM lawsuit: all over bar the judgment? RIM takes NTP to court - again RIM settles NTP lawsuit for $450m RIM infringed NTP patents, appeal court rules
Documents relating to the seizure of Indymedia's servers at Rackspace's Heathrow premises have finally been unsealed by a Texas district court. Some information remains under seal, and the documents released by no means provide the full picture, but it is now clear that yes, it was the Italians, and no, there was no obvious legal basis for the seizure of the servers themselves. And as regards the British Government's apparent insouciance regarding the (faulty) operation of US court orders within British jurisdiction but without any British authorisation, well, that remains a puzzle. The various documents, which are available at the EFF, here, show that the action took place as a consequence of a mutual legal assistance request from Italy to the US, relating to servers hosted by Rackspace in Texas. The Italian request pretty much confirms what it was possible to piece together a few weeks after the seizure. That is, an investigation into an anarchist grouping which the Italian authorities believed was connected to parcel bombs sent to, among other people, former EU Commission President Romano Prodi was trying to track the origins of some posting allegedly made at Indymedia Italy. Indymedia denies the existence of such postings, and insists that the group, the FAI, doesn't use Indymedia, but as Indymedia was never contacted about the matter it has never had a chance to cooperate. According to the Italian request, the postings it wanted information on were at URLs (which have been redacted from the document) that "are all part of the web site http://indymedia.org. Indymedia is a self-styled 'international collectively run media network providing a radical objective and impassioned account of the truth', which is politically near to the extremist millieu, and purports to be an alternative to the news supplied by institutionally recognised and officially registered press and radio-TV broadcasting agencies." Nor, they might have added, is it owned by the Italian Prime Minister. The request does contain a couple of unredacted URLs which it associates with hosts in the Netherlands and Spain, but if there was any UK connection then it was in the redacted section. The document, from the Bologna Public Prosecutor's Office, does make clear what is required, and it is the log files, not the servers. "To the purpose of identifying the internet users who published the web version of the document claiming responsibility for the terrorist attacks in the above listed web spaces, Italian prosecuting authority needs to obtain the log files in relation to the creation and updating of the contents of said spaces. The examination of the log files might disclose the IP addresses as well as the date and time of the internet connections, through which the documents were published in the web. The log files should be obtained from the Internet Service Provider managing the servers hosting the above web spaces." The document goes on to suggest that a widespread conspiracy may exist, saying "said terrorist attacks are the result both of a common strategy agreed upon by different pro-insurrection factions of the anarchist movement and of world-wide operational links, also consisting in the dissemination on the web of copies of the document claiming responsibility for the attacks." The US authorities seem receptive to the notion that Indymedia is the publishing arm of some kind of global conspiracy, and have had some run-ins with it over log files in the past. As far as we know Indymedia servers do not generally log originating IPs, and when requests for cooperation are made (generally to the ISP, rather than direct to Indymedia), Indymedia will usually try to resist them, within the bounds of legality. Which is pretty much what you'd expect your ISP to do for you, but as you may have noticed, most of them don't. It's not clear from the documents how the request for log files from Rackspace in Texas resulted in the seizure of servers operated by Rackspace in Heathrow, however the documents include a certification dated 21st December 2004 from Assistant US Attorney Don Calvert that a CD "is a true and correct copy of log files in relation to the creation and updating of the web spaces corresponding to the following URLs [redacted]". So we don't know whether they got the log files from Texas or Heathrow, but we do know they think they got the right log files. They also, potentially, got the run of Indymedia's servers at Rackspace, Texas, and the only thing stopping them having the run of the Heathrow servers, which they had in their possession for several days, would have been their own honesty and uprightness. Rackspace's role in the affair doesn't look particularly glorious. The subpoena required Rackspace to hand over log files by 13th August 2004, but on 7th October 2004 Rackspace told Indymedia that it had "received a federal order to provide your hardware to the requesting agency." The day after, Rackspace issued a statement saying that "The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter." Which it doesn't - the court order merely says that notice to the other parties (i.e. Indymedia) is not required. Now, it's perfectly conceivable (actually, we'd say 'probable') that it wouldn't exactly be easy for the hosting company to just lift the log files from an Indymedia server, and that some form of more radical surgery might be required to get them. It's also perfectly conceivable that attempts to track down the log files might lead to servers in Heathrow, London. But if either of these were the case it would be nice to think that the hosting company might try to mount some kind of legal defence against what might easily be seen as a fishing expedition. Certainly, one would expect the company to do this once the request got as far as London, if only to protect its own arse. The Home Office's denials of involvement or responsibility for the seizures leaves only one target, and if as seems likely there was no legal authority for the seizures in the UK, then Rackspace could well have been in violation of the Data Protection Act or the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. We've had occasion to observe before now that the powers that be seem not to have a totally firm grasp of the operation of RIPA and its ilk, but it'd be something of a breakthrough if they contrived to get themselves busted under its terms - isn't it supposed to be pointing in the other direction? ® Related Links: EFF info and documentation on the case Indymedia's case history Legal row after police seize Bristol Indymedia server We seize servers, you can't complain - US gov Indymedia server grab - Home Office knew, but isn't telling Indymedia: the tale of the servers 'nobody' seized Indymedia seizures: a trawl for Genoa G8 trial cover-up?
Public sector investment in IT will continue to outpace that from the private sector and retail, according to figures from analyst house IDC. The company says spending by governments in Western Europe will reach $49bn annually, growing at nearly six per cent a year, and up from $38bn in 2004. Meanwhile the retail and wholesale market will be worth $39.6bn, growing at around 4.1 per cent annually. IDC estimates that this sector will be worth $33.6bn ($19.9bn for retail and $13.7bn for wholesale) in 2005. In the business and retail sector, software will be the fastest growing segment, IDC says, followed closely by IT services, which in turn will account for around 50 per cent of the total spent. Demand for networking equipment will drive hardware sales in 2005, but between 2005 and 2009, spending in the retail sector will outpace business investment. In the public sector, most of the growth will come from the local authorities. IDC says companies wanting a slice of the action should focus on "IT solutions that support business process transformation". That's CRM software and anything else that goes into portals or call centres, in common parlance. ® Related stories European governments cautious on IT spend IDC sees slow year for IT in Europe E-gov to cost Europe 4bn+
Wanadoo will not be telling 500 broadband users in Leeds that they are taking part in a local loop unbundling (LLU) trial. Instead, the ISP formerly known as Freeserve will inform punters that the company is working on a "network upgrade". According to insiders, Wanadoo has just started placing orders to migrate the first customers to unbundled broadband. Over the next four weeks or so some 500 Wanadoo broadband users in the Leeds area to be migrated to the ISP's LLU service. However, the ISP will not be telling customers what is happening because of concerns of what might happen should things go wrong. Instead, triallists are to receive an email explaining when their phone and internet service will be offline. Wanadoo staff have also been instructed not to tell customers about LLU even if questioned directly and instead been urged to tell punters that "essential upgrades" are being done. Explaining the ISP's secrecy an insider told us: "Wanadoo are aware of the bad press surrounding LLU and Bulldog and do not want customers knowing what is happening because of this." A spokesman for Wanadoo explained that the average time punters would be without their phone line would be less than 30 minutes, although it's more likely to be five minutes if all goes well. Asked why Wanadoo was being so secretive, a spokesman told us: "We don't think it's the right thing to do to go into the minutiae of LLU at this stage." ® Related stories Wanadoo UK kicks off Leeds LLU trial Ofcom sent 135 Bulldog complaints Wanadoo 'flattered' by BT copycat move France Telecom denies interest in C&W Broadband growth buoys Wanadoo Wanadoo UK begins major broadband drive
Russia's Emergencies Ministry is warning that the H5N1 strain of the bird-flu virus, the strain dangerous to humans and responsible for the deaths of more than 50 people in Asia, could spread into mainland Europe from farms in Siberia. The Ministry issued a statement saying that the autumnal migration of birds from Siberia to the Caspian and Black Sea regions could increase the risk of new outbreaks, Reuters reports. "Human infection, especially among workers at poultry farms, cannot be ruled out," the statement warned. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture said no cases of the H5N1 strain have been identified in the Siberian region of Omsk, but cases have been confirmed in Novosibirsk, Altai and Tyumen. It added that all poultry farms in Russia have taken steps to protect themselves from infection. In the Novosibirsk region, where the virus has claimed nearly 3,000 head of domestic poultry, farmers have already begun slaughtering birds - a program that could last for at least a week, or even for 10 days. A local government spokesman told Reuters: "Slaughtered poultry from 68 households was put in plastic bags together with disinfectant and incinerated in specially prepared pits located at a distance from settlements." The H5N1 strain of the bird-flu virus can be passed from bird to human, but in Russia no cases of human infection have been officially registered. The greatest fear is that the virus will mutate and a strain will emerge that can be passed from human, to human, triggering a global epidemic. ® Related stories China's pig disease baffles health experts UK to stockpile bird-flu vaccine Bush admits to being hotter and gassier, blames humans Does your urine smell of maple syrup?
Vodafone's pager network - which is used by hospitals and businesses in the UK to stay in touch - went titsup early this morning after thieves stole key networking equipment overnight. Although details are still sketchy, the break-in occurred in the early hours of this morning at an undisclosed address in Hertfordshire. Thieves made off with "key bits of equipment" and also damaged remaining hardware as they ripped out the kit. As a result, Vodafone's paging network - which is used by 180,000 people and covers 98 per cent of the UK population - was floored. Engineers managed to get the network back on its feet by early this afternoon. "We take this extremely seriously and are investigating the matter," said a spokesman. ® Related stories Vodafone kicks Beckham into touch Voda's Scottish 3G network wobbles Norway mobile service floored - report New Zealand floored by cable outage
Astronaut Stephen Robinson has managed to complete the fix to the underside of the Space Shuttle Discovery by pulling out two protruding "gap-fillers" by hand. NASA had been concerned that the disruption to the Shuttle's smooth underside would increase the amount of turbulence, and so heating in the area during a re-entry attempt, putting the Shuttle and crew at risk. Robinson and crewmate Soichi Noguchi, who accompanied him on the space walk, are the first people to have seen the underside of a space shuttle while the craft is in orbit. Robinson was manoeuvred into position on the end of the International Space Station's 58ft robotic arm. In preparation for the spacewalk, he said he would be particularly careful not to bump his head while carrying out the fix. NASA had provided forceps and astronauts had rigged up a makeshift hacksaw for Robinson to use if the gap-fillers proved difficult to remove. In the event, the fillers, which act almost like grouting in between the Shuttle's heat shield tiles, came out relatively easily. NASA says they were probably shaken loose during the launch. The Shuttle launch was also marred by falling foam which NASA acknowledges could have hit the craft as it powered into space. However, NASA officials say they don't think the shuttle is at risk of suffering the same fate as Columbia, which broke up on re-entry in 2003. During its launch a large chunk of foam fell from Columbia hitting, and damaging the craft on its wing. As the space-plane went through the atmosphere, superheated gases got inside, tearing the ship apart. Shuttle Commander Eileen Collins said she is disappointed the foam problem is still not resolved. "We were actually quite surprised to hear we had some large pieces of debris fall off the external tank, it wasn't what we had expected," she said. "Frankly we were disappointed to hear that had happened. We thought we had this problem fixed." Collins now says she has few worries about re-entry, slated for Monday 8 August. ® Related stories Space-walk no. 3 to fix Shuttle Discovery docks with ISS Shuttle grounded again - indefinitely NASA investigates falling debris Shuttle actually lifts off
There are two ways to view the Microsoft IPTV system. Microsoft’s way and the wrong way. For those of us that have dealt with Microsoft in the past, this is not an abnormal positioning.
A security breach involving Cisco's customer portal has forced the giant to reset passwords as a precaution. As a result, users visiting Cisco Connection Online on Wednesday were obliged to reauthenticate themselves. In a statement Cisco said: "It has been brought to our attention that there is an issue in a Cisco.com search tool that could expose passwords for registered users. As a result, to protect our users, we’re taking the proactive step of resetting Cisco.com passwords. Needless to say we’re investigating the incident which does not appear to be due to a weakness in our security products and technologies or with our network infrastructure." Users are been advised to email an automated service to get their passwords reset but some Reg readers who notified us about the issue report snags in re-establishing a valid log-in. One network reseller, reports the fallout from the security breach is causing significant inconvenience. "All CCO login ID's have had their passwords reset and email addresses etc. have been removed from the accounts. This means everyone with a Cisco login has to re-register. So now everyone who's had a CCO login should start changing all their passwords as whoever compromised Cisco's system could potentially have the password for corporate email systems, VPN's, home passwords etc," he said. Another Reg reader adds that Cisco's own workers have also been put out. "The password database for this facility for all of Europe, including Cisco employees has been compromised. The net result is that no one across Europe certainly, is able to log in." News of the security flap comes a week after Cisco controversially slapped a restraining order on a security researcher who gave a talk on security weaknesses with the networking giant's core IOS software at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. Michael Lynn quit his job at security tools vendor ISS in order to give a presentation about how it might be possible to remotely compromise Cisco routers and run malign code. Cisco said that Lynn had failed to follow approved industry practices in disclosing security vulnerabilities. It also took issue with Lynn's "irresponsible public disclosure of illegally obtained proprietary information". Cisco's handling of the incident has irked segments of the digital underground though it would be speculative in the absence of any evidence beyond timing to suggest this had anything to do with Wednesday's portal password flap. ® Bootnote Thanks to all the Reg readers who alerted us to Cisco's little snafu. Related stories Exploit writers team up to target Cisco routers Cisco details Black Hat vuln fix Settlement reached in Cisco flaw dispute Cisco, ISS file suit against rogue researcher
Shares of BMC surged Wednesday on the back of decent first quarter results and a rosy outlook for the current quarter and coming year. The software maker handed investors all the right information, pointing to solid revenue growth and effective expense controls over the past few months. That's great news for close BMC watchers who saw a 12 per cent workforce cut in April and witnessed preliminary fourth quarter results well below previous expectations. BMC's strong outlook helped push shares higher more than 10 per cent to $20.88 at the time of writing. Excluding unusual charges, BMC posted net earnings of $43.9m during the first quarter, which marks a 39 per cent year-on-year rise. Earnings per share came in at 20 cents versus a consensus analyst estimate of 13 cents. Including charges for restructuring and tax on repatriated foreign earnings, BMC's results weren't quite so stellar. It reported a net loss of $41.1m and a loss of 19 cents per share. A year earlier, BMC posted a $10.7m profit and earned 5 cents per share. Revenue for the first quarter of 2006 hit $348.3m - up 7 per cent from $325m in 2005's Q1. License revenue jumped 14 per cent to $113.9m and maintenance revenue moved higher 4 per cent to $213.6m. "Despite a competitive environment, our implementation of a major restructuring and the reallocation of sales resources to growth businesses, we sharpened our focus and significantly improved our operating margin," said Bob Beauchamp, CEO at BMC. "The growth in profitability of our business is indicative of the value of these initiatives." Investors, however, seemed more impressed with what BMC promised for its second quarter and rest of the year than the first quarter figures. BMC is looking for second quarter revenue to come in between $355m and $370m and earnings per share come in between 20 and 25 cents. Analysts currently hover around the low end of that range with their estimates. For the full year, BMC vowed to bring in between 90 and 96 cents earnings per share - up from a previous range of 86 to 92 cents. It raised the revenue forecast as well to a range between $1.49bn and $1.52bn from $1.48bn to $1.50bn. Still, analyst firm Bear Stearns wasn't convinced that all is well at the software maker. "BMC reported solid June quarter results last night, the first such quarter in quite a while for this company," said Bear Stearns in a research note. "The main question is whether this quarter was an anomaly or whether this is the first indication of a positive trend. "While we view the results favorably, we are not convinced at this time that BMC can stabilize its core mainframe database tools business (though it was admittedly strong in the June period) or meaningfully grow its distributed business."® Related stories BMC asks for more time to get books SOX-ready BMC apologizes for poor Q4 with massive job cuts BMC snags OpenNetwork for $18m BMC unites channel programme BMC buys French identity software maker for $33m
Time Warner is to cough up $2.5bn to settle legal action lodged by shareholders dating back to its purchase of internet giant AOL. In a statement Minneapolis law firm Heins Mills & Olson said the settlement "will benefit millions of shareholders who purchased or acquired AOL and Time Warner securities between January 27, 1999 and August 27, 2002". The class action lawsuit relates to allegations that AOL inflated subscriber numbers and ad earning revenue in the early part of the decade. In March, Time Warner settled a long running investigation by the US' Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into the fraud case. Without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, Time Warner agreed to pay $300m in civil penalties in a bid to draw a line under the matter In a statement today Time Warner said it had "reached an agreement in principle for the settlement of the primary securities class action pending against it". Its auditor Ernst & Young has also agreed to settle the litigation and agreed to pay $100m. In a statement Time Warner chairman and chief exec Dick Parsons said: "Reaching an agreement in principle to settle this securities litigation and reserving for it and all other related matters mark important steps toward putting these matters behind us. By working to resolve these issues now, we're aiming to avoid the costs, risks and distractions of protracted litigation. Even after considering the reserve, our balance sheet remains strong." Publishing Q2 results for the three months to the end of June the world's biggest media group reported that revenues dropped one per cent to $10.7bn compared to the same period last year. And due to setting aside the cash sum to settle the legal action, Time Warner also reported an operating loss of $1.2bn. ® Related stories Time Warner settles AOL SEC fraud investigation Time Warner mulls AOL float AOL subscribers go AWOL Time Warner squares AOL fraud claims with $510m settlement AOL faces $200m lawsuit
The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has finally commissioned the investigation into the potential health hazards of working in chip fabrication plants that it pledged to sponsor a year ago. The announcement comes five months after the study was originally expected to start. The Ingram Cancer Center - part of Vanderbilt University, based in Nashville, Tennessee - will undertake the research programme, the US chip trade body said today. The results are not expected to be made public until 2009. Between now and then, the Center will probe the medical histories of around 85,000 individuals who have worked in wafer fabs during the past 30 years. It will be looking to see if there is any greater incidence of cancer in those people than in the population as a whole. The announcement that the SIA would fund such a study was made in August 2004, a year in which IBM won cases brought against it by the families of deceased factory workers. The families claimed the cancers that killed their relatives had been contracted after the workers came into contact with hazardous materials in the fabs. They alleged IBM knew about the risks but did nothing to warn its employees. IBM also settled a number of such cases out of court. Five years earlier, in 1999, the SIA set up an independent committee of experts to assess the risk. Some 18 months later, the panel concluded there was no evidence to suggest unequivocally an increased risk of cancer among fab workers. However, it also admitted it didn't have sufficient data to investigate fully potential links between levels of exposure to chemicals used in fabs and cancer risk. The new study will seek to answer that very question. The SIA undoubtedly hopes the Ingram Cancer Center's findings will show no correlation between cancer contraction rates and fab employment. If the reverse is true, it could pave the way for further litigation by families who have lost to cancer loved ones who formerly worked in US chip fabs. ® Related stories Power lines linked to childhood leukaemia Chip biz to fund independent cancer study IBM denies spiking fab cancer study IBM settles 'poisoned' workers' cancer claims IBM not guilty of knowingly poisoning workers
HP has thumped Overland Storage with the reality stick, saying it will buy midrange tape products from another supplier. Overland made this admission Wednesday, revealing that its largest OEM customer will look elsewhere. HP should start buying gear from a new supplier - perhaps StorageTek or Quantum - starting in 2006. Overland expects HP to sell a mix of its gear and the new gear for some time but eventually to be phased completely out of HP's lineup. The loss of a customer the size of HP forced Overland to address some difficult financial repercussions. "In light of this anticipated loss in future revenue, the company intends to focus heavily on the delivery of new higher-margin products through its branded channel during fiscal 2006," Overland said in a statement. Then CEO Christopher Calisi tried to step in and put a positive spin on Overland's future. "We remain excited about the many opportunities that lie ahead for Overland," Calisi said. "We have a strong balance sheet and cash position, and intend to use this strength to fill out our tiered storage strategy consisting of protected primary disk storage, secondary disk-based backup and tertiary tape automation devices." Overland's OEM business has been shrinking over the past year - a trend that HP will accelerate. Branded box sales, however, have jumped 20 per cent the last two years and now count for $100m per year of Overland's business. A three-year contract between HP and Overland expires in July of 2006. The deal does not require HP to buy set amounts of gear from the storage maker in the meantime. HP picked Overland over StorageTek, following the acquisition of Compaq. Now, however, it looks like new CEO Mark Hurd has given Overland the boot as part of an effort to reduce costs in HP's server and storage divisions. "HP is not announcing a new supplier at this time," the company told us. "HP is taking action for its business to have world class cost structures and the decision regarding Overland is part of that. The current HP StorageWorks MSL6000, MSL5026 and MSL5052 Tape Libraries will continue to be sold for an indefinite period of time or as long as customer demand exists." ® Related stories Overland bags Okapi Quantum buys Benchmark StorageTek Gives Up on HP Compaq wears the pants in HP's brave new storage world
The aftermath of a security breach involving Cisco's customer portal has left customers scrambling to get new passwords. Cisco reset passwords to Cisco Connection Online as a precaution following the discovery of a security bug in a Cisco.com search tool that could expose log-ins of registered users. Users worldwide have been advised to email an automated service to get their passwords reset but some Reg readers who notified us about the glitch report snags in re-establishing a valid log-in. Customer service reps told one Reg reader that the system for issuing new passwords was overloaded because of three million requests worldwide for new passwords. A Cisco spokesman was unable to comment on this figure but confirmed that there was a backlog. "Obviously there have been a large number of requests. We are doing everything we can to speed things up," he said. Cisco Connection Online is used by Cisco employees, customers and partners worldwide as an information and download resource. End users tap the system to download software images and tools, raise fault tickets and for general support purposes. Network resellers we spoke to tell us they place orders through a distributor rather than directly through the site. Cisco reckons problems for users logging into the site won't interrupt its flow of sales and orders. "We don’t believe that our e-business processes are affected but will continue to investigate to assess any possible impact," a Cisco spokesman said. In a statement, Cisco said it has "identified the source of the problem and has taken the necessary steps to correct it". The vulnerability was brought to its attention by a third-party security organisation which Cisco declined to name. Cisco said the incident "does not appear to be due to a weakness in our security products and technologies or with our network infrastructure". An application or implementation fault is the likely cause of the fault but we can't say for sure because Cisco is staying mum on what went wrong. The security flap comes a week after Cisco controversially slapped a restraining order on a security researcher, Michael Lynn. who gave a talk on weaknesses with the networking giant's core IOS software at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. Cisco's handling of the incident has irked segments of the digital underground though it would be speculative in the absence of any evidence beyond timing to suggest this had anything to do with Wednesday's portal password flap. Cisco was the first company to integrate its Web site with an Oracle infrastructure (based on E-Business Suite), creating Cisco Connection Online (CCO), an extranet connecting the giant to its partners and suppliers.® Related stories Cisco, ISS file suit against rogue researcher Settlement reached in Cisco flaw dispute Cisco details Black Hat vuln fix Exploit writers team up to target Cisco routers Cisco portal password security compromised
Open source browser daddy Mozilla Foundation is donning a suit and going back to work for the man. Mozilla Foundation has announced the formation of the Mozilla Corporation, a for-profit organization that will handle relations with commercial companies and continue development, distribution and marketing of Firefox and Thunderbird. The corporation will become home to the majority of the foundation’s employees, have its own board of directors, and be overseen by foundation president Mitchell Baker who now becomes the corporation’s prez. The corporation will initially be home to Firefox and Thunderbird, with projects including Camino and SeaMonkey still overseen by the foundation. The irony is, of course, that Mozilla only began life after the Netscape Communications business released the code for its Navigator browser to the community, having lost the browser wars to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Mozilla began life using that Netscape code. There won't, however, be a grand IPO this time around as with the original Netscape. Clearly sensitive to the negative perception that the formation of a commercially oriented corporation could have among the members of the open source community, the Mozilla Foundation was at pains to avoid any accusations it is “selling out”. Instead, the foundation said that it will retain “100%” ownership over the corporation, that there won’t be an IPO, shareholders, stock options or dividends paid, and that the foundation will own and license the trademarks and intellectual property (IP) to the corporation. Additionally, any profits from the corporation will be invested back into the Mozilla project. “The foundation is eager to emphasize that it will pursue the same public benefit goals as the foundation itself and will not be driven purely by revenue goals,” Mozilla said on its web site. Baker himself added in a statement: "[The foundation] is dedicated to the public benefit goal at the heart of the Mozilla project, which is to keep the internet open and available to everyone." The foundation’s decision to form the commercial entity has clearly been influenced by the growing commercial aspects of its work, though, as Firefox has now surpassed 75 million downloads. “Creation of the Mozilla Corporation should eliminate some of the thorny legal and tax issues that have been caused by the revenue-generating potential of Firefox and Thunderbird,” Mozilla said. The Mozilla Foundation hopes that by spinning out work on Firefox, especially, will enable it to focus on project and policy efforts, while leaving the commercial organization to deal with a rising tide of business and technology issues. It is expected the corporation will shepherd the next edition of Firefox through to launch, following cancellation of version 1.1 and postponement of 1.5 until September. The corporation will also likely be tasked with the on-going, practical issues of pumping out bug fixes. Firefox is now increasing its market share, believed to be between five and 10 per cent depending on which analyst you track, while IE is slowly losing market share for the first time. ® Related stories Mozilla postpones next Firefox release Firefox update fixes stability glitches Firefox's Greasemonkey slippery on security Hackers attack Mozilla site to spread spam
A project building an open source business intelligence architecture for the PostgreSQL database has released core elements of its development stack. The Bizgres Project said on Wednesday that its stack consists of the open source extract-transform-load (ETL) technologies from Kinetic Networks, open source operational reporting, JasperReports from JasperSoft and a Bizgres data warehousing based on PostgreSQL. One of the most important additions, the companies said, in this release is table partitioning - a feature that improves the ability to use the database in large data warehousing applications. The Bizgres project was announced in April and is the work of a trio of companies to make Postgres a high-performance open source database for BI. Leading the project are database server specialist Greenplum, open source reporting software ISV JasperSoft and BI consultant Kinetic Networks.® Related stories Open source databases - a sword that cuts both ways? Open source database firm gets webMethods infusion Eclipse updates platform and projects