4th > August > 2005 Archive

arrow pointing up

Napster pays plenty for modest growth in Q1

As promised, Napster delivered modest first quarter growth while its costs swelled. In addition, the company today announced plans to launch a version of its music rental service in Japan. Napster brought in $21m during the first quarter. That's a a 167 per cent jump over the rather feeble $7.8m in revenue posted in the same quarter last year. Napster characterized the gain as modest growth and managed to hit the high-end of a forecast provided in May. Rather distressingly though, Napster's bottom line continues to suffer from its advertising heavy, subsidy-based business model. It reported a net loss of $20m or a loss of 46 cents per share during the first quarter, which compares to losses of $7.6m and 22 cents per share last year. CEO Chris Gorog did his best to put a positive spin on the session. "Napster continues to make strong progress as we recorded our fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth and signed significant strategic partnerships with some of the world's leading technology companies including XM Satellite Radio, Ericsson and Dell," he said. "These partnerships continue to validate the global strength of the Napster brand and are critical building blocks as we grow our business and enable users to access Napster beyond the PC through an increasing number of MP3 players and via cell phones." The deal with Dell at college campuses provides one example of Napster's willingness to sell its service at a huge discount in the hopes of attracting future full-priced customers. So far, consumers have not flocked to DRM-laden rental stores as the likes of Napster, Real and Yahoo hoped. In Japan, Napster will team with Tower Records Japan - a larger music retailer - within the next year to operate a joint-venture. Napster Japan follows similar services available in the US, UK and Canada. Napster's content revenue hit $20.7m during the first quarter, which compares to $6.7m last year. Hardware revenue from various deals tumbled to just $250,000 from $1.2m last year. Meanwhile, sales and marketing costs skyrocketed to $16.2m from $4.3m. ® Related stories Hollywood sock-puppet senator faces tech insurgency University bans iPod adverts File sharers 'spend more on music downloads' Global music download stats spill beans on subscriptions
Ashlee Vance, 04 Aug 2005

Hurricanes thriving on global warming

An MIT Professor says that hurricanes have been getting more powerful over the last few decades, and warns that the trend is likely to continue. He says that global warming is a contributory factor. In a paper appearing in the online edition of the journal Nature Kerry Emmanuel, professor of meteorology in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, writes: "My results suggest that future warming may lead to an upward trend in [hurricanes'] destructive potential, and - taking into account an increasing coastal population - a substantial increase in hurricane-related losses in the 21st century." Emanuel analysed data from tropical cyclones dating back to the middle of the last century, tracking the amount of energy released by each storm, the duration of the storm and its top windspeed. He found that since the 1970's, the storms have become more energetic, around half as fast again, and last on average 50 per cent longer. The results are broadly in line with computer simulations of the impact of climate change on hurricane intensity. The increase has also happened in parallel with an increase in the average surface temperature of the world's oceans. Some of this temperature increase can be ascribed to global warming, Emanuel says. ® Related stories Bill Joy knocked as 'conspiracy theorist' by tech zealot Antarcticans to live in blue, ski-mounted, caterpillar Bush admits to being hotter and gassier, blames humans EU lays down the law on green PCs
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Aug 2005
channel

PHP, Perl and Python on the wane?

A trio of open source scripting languages are waning in popularity among developers at precisely the time big-name IT companies are adding their support.
Gavin Clarke, 04 Aug 2005

South Koreans clone dog

South Korean scientists announced yesterday that they had created the world's first cloned dog - an Afghan hound called Snuppy - by the same somatic nuclear cell transfer method used to brew up Dolly the sheep. Lead boffin Woo-Suk Hwang of Seoul National University told a press conference: "Our research goal is to produce cloned dogs for [studying] the disease models, not only for humans, but also for animals." Although Hwang's team admitted they chose the Afghan for its "size and striking appearance", they stressed in a statement: "The purpose of this research is to produce research animals, not domestic pets." Snuppy ("Seoul National University puppy") was concocted from adult skin cells taken from the aforementioned Afghan hound, Reuters reports. The team transferred 1,095 into 123 surrogates resulting in just two successful live caesarean births. Of the two puppies, one named "NT-2" died of pneumonia 22 days after birth, although it was anatomically normal. Snuppy was delivered on 24 April from a yellow Labrador surrogate. The Seoul team's press release also, rather confusingly, says that "the difficulty in producing dog clones underscores the importance of responsible regulation of this vital science," - a reference to the ongoing controversy over cloning. Back in March, the UN issued a non-binding ban on all forms of cloning, including "therapeutic cloning" where (human) embryos are created for cell harvest and then discarded. Many countries including the UK have ignored the ban, but have stressed that under no circumstances will they allow cloning of a human being. ® Related stories Michael J. Fox makes stem cell plea Spain greenlights therapeutic cloning Bush pledges to veto stem cell bill Scientists hail stem cell breakthrough UN approves human cloning ban Britain talks tough on stem cell research
Lester Haines, 04 Aug 2005

Mobile phone picture agency goes live

Camera-phone toting commuters and tourists can now consider themselves the equal of Capa, Cartier-Bresson and Bailey, with a newly-launched online photo agency pledging to turn your pixels into pounds. Scoopt aims to take advantage of the huge proliferation of digital cameras and camera phones, to broker professional syndication deals between 'right-place-right-time' amateur photographers and newspaper picture desks. It might seem horrendously opportunistic, given recent events in London, but the site was actually registered back in April, so things have obviously been in the pipeline for a while. The service originally "soft launched" on 4 July, but for rather obvious reasons, kept a fairly low profile immediately after this. Still, the site's founder does note the importance of amateur photography in the unfolding coverage of the attacks on London: "The shocking events in London on 7th and 21st July brought citizen journalism into sudden, sharp focus, demonstrating once and for all that images taken by members of the public can be startling and evocative," says Kyle McRae. "Citizen journalism is here to stay and set to change the nature of news." Apart from dubbing it Citizen Journalism, which for some reason has made all of us wage-slaves at el Reg feel a little less special, we think we know what he means. The service works as follows: Scoopt members own the copyright to their photographs, and will be paid 50 per cent of each and every licensing and syndication deal. Scoopt asks members to agree to a three month exclusive license of the picture, to allow them to negotiate the best possible deal. It says this approach is in direct contrast to signing over universal copyright in exchange for a one-off flat fee, which is what usually happens when a member of the public tries to sell directly to a picture desk. The company also has a strong internal editorial policy governing what it will and will not handle (covered briefly in the Ts&Cs, and in more detail in guides provided to members only). It also says it insists on full, legally binding, disclosure from the photographer about each submitted picture. ® Related stories Camera lenses go flat and skinny Digital cameras redesign the photographic process Dutch snap world's largest digital photo
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Aug 2005
channel

Hynix, Infineon winners as Q2 DRAM sales slide

Hynix once again became the world's second most successful memory maker during Q2, pushing Micron into third place on market watcher iSuppli's chart. But it was a tough period for almost all the bigger DRAMurai, as the top eight companies recorded sequential drops in revenues of up to 24 per cent, according to the researcher's preliminary figures. Samsung remains the world's biggest supplier of memory chips, with a 30.6 per cent share of the market. But its calendar Q2 sales were down 14 per cent on Q1's total, to $1.75bn. Hynix's sales were down by a similar amount (13 per cent), falling from $1.08bn in Q1 to $939m in Q2. During Q2 it took 16.4 per cent of the market. Its gain was Micron's loss - the US company accounted for 14.7 per cent of the market after Q1 sales of $1.10bn fell 24 per cent to $840m in Q2. Hynix and Micron have exchanged second and third places on the top ten table every consecutive quarter since the beginning of 2004. Infineon, in fourth place, followed by Elpida, Nanya, Powerchip and ProMos, all saw their sales fall sequentially. Of the top-ten memory makers, only ninth-place Winbond and ten-place ISSI achieved sequential revenue growth, of 26 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively. That pushed Winbond one place up the table, and took ISSI into the top ten for the first time. Infineon was the best performer of the big-name DRAMurai, suffering only a two per cent sequential decline in sales, as did Nanya. Overall, memory chip producers sold $5.72bn worth of products in Q2, down 13 per cent on the $6.57bn worth they sold in Q1, iSuppli said. This despite a 15 per cent increase in the total memory capacity of all those products - look to a 25 per cent decline in average selling prices for the reason, the researcher said. Only Samsung, Hynix and Powerchip were able to profit from DRAM sales during Q2. Prices began to recover last month. Will that be enough to reverse Micron's decline and allow it to regain the number two slot? Only Q3's final figures will say. ® Related stories World chip sales slide TSMC up, UMC down in Q2 TI reaps wireless boom Elpida falls into red on weak DRAM prices Freescale grows Q2 earnings on flat sales Intel overcomes 'weak' line-up during Q2 AMD shrugs off Intel shackles for ace Q2
Tony Smith, 04 Aug 2005

2m mobiles on the blink last year

One in seven mobile phone handsets goes wrong within a year, according to consumer watchdog Which?. If the survey of some 5,000 punters is anywhere near accurate, it means that at least two million of the 18 million phones sold in the UK last year could have developed faults. And the worst offender, according to Which?, is 3G network operator 3 with one in three of its handsets developing a snag within 12 months. Hitting back, a spokewoman for 3 rubbished the survey saying that it just wasn't representative. "Which? only spoke to 50 of our customers out of a customer base of three million," she told us. The survey also found that Motorola and Sony Ericsson handsets were most likely to go wrong with around a fifth of owners reporting faults. Nokia and Samsung were the most reliable, although one in ten users still had faulty phones, said the survey. To compund matters, Which? found that consumers found it difficult to get the faults fixed. "A one-in-seven chance your phone's going to develop a fault is way too high," said Which? editor Malcolm Coles. "Not only that, but retailers who should be bending over backwards to help customers who've already suffered the inconvenience of a fault aren't giving people the help they need when they complain." ® Related stories Low-end phone demand drives Q2 handset sales leap Sony Ericsson claims Q2 market share gain Vodafone launches handset for phone-phobes
Tim Richardson, 04 Aug 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Creative unveils portable video Vision

UpdateUpdate Creative has finally launched its latest portable video player, the Zen Vision, after allowing the device to make a number of unscheduled appearances on the company's website and others. The Vision sports a 30GB hard drive and a 640 x 480, 262,000-colour, 3.7in display. It's got a radio, microphone, CompactFlash card slot for expansion, and a USB 2.0 port for connectivity. The device plays MPEG 1, 2 and 4-SP video formats, along with WMV 9, Motion JPEG, DivX 4 and 5, and Xvid-SP3. It can also handle TiVoToGo files. It can play MP3 and WMA audio tracks - the latter with DRM support. Like the Zen Micro, the Vision will sync up with Microsoft Outlook, allowing it to be used as a PDA. So Palm had better watch out for its LifeDrive Mobile Manager. The Vision weighs 232g and measures 12.3 x 7.3 x 2cm - almost exactly the same size as the LifeDrive but slightly heavier. The LifeDrive's Palm OS foundation at least means that it has a ready supply of applications users can install on it, though its 4GB capacity is a fraction of the Vision's. The Vision is bulkier than a 60GB iPod, and its removable battery less capacious: if offers 13 hours' continuous music play time to the iPod's 15 hours. But then the iPod doesn't do video on its significantly smaller screen. In any case, they're aimed at different markets. The Vision's video play time is 4.5 hours. Creative is taking orders for the Vision in the US, where it's charging $400 for either a black or a white version. However, the product is not yet available, and Creative did not say when it will ship. It did not provide any indication when the Vision will arrive in Europe beyond "available soon". However, our (educated) guess is the Vision will ship early to mid-September, first in the US, then the UK and finally the rest of Europe. ® Related stories iRiver launches compact Flash video player Creative preps Zen Vision video player Related review Palm LifeDrive Mobile Manager
Tony Smith, 04 Aug 2005

Apple launches iTunes Japan

Apple finally launched the Japanese version of its iTunes Music Store today, but less widely reported tie-ins with three major car makers will probably have a greater impact on the company's fortunes. ITMS Japan will offer listeners a choice of 1m songs, available at either ¥150 ($1.35/£0.76) or ¥200 ($1.80/£1.01). Apple has began to introduce differential pricing in the US, with some songs from independent labels coming in above the 99c it initially established as the standard price. However, the Japanese store is the first to launch with multi-tier pricing up front. Apple now operates stores for 20 countries around the world, with Australia the most notable absence from the list. ITMS Japan has taken Apple some time to prepare, after undergoing some tough negotiations with the major labels there. Japanese labels have a far greater hold on the distribution of music than Western labels do. Hurdles the company has had to overcome include criticism of the strength of its DRM technology, the limitations the copy protection system imposes on songs, and the pricing. The Japanese store's prices are higher than the US store's, but comparable to the UK's. Separately, Apple said Nissan, Mazda and Daihatsu have all agreed to build iPod-compatible stereos into their 2006 auto line-ups. BMW and its subsidiary, Mini, along with Smart and Alfa Romeo, have also said they will support iPod in-car entertainment in the Japanese market. Apple claims the iPod accounts for 36 per cent of the Japanese MP3 player market, ahead of Sony (22 per cent), and Creative, iRiver and Rio combined (27 per cent). But it's clearly facing a harder fight here than, say, the US, where it has 74 per cent of the market, according to June figures from market watcher NPD. Indeed, at today's launch, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a point of highlighting that while 6m-odd iPods shipped the company's most recent quarter, Sony shipped only 2m PSPs. Clearly PSP is seen as a potential rival, though the markets the two devices nominally target are different. The deals with the car-makers will help, by allowing broadening the number of environments in which IPod owners can use the music player, and through the brand marketing these companies will bring. Car salespeople are not going to tell prospective purchasers that the vehicle they are looking at can take an MP3 player, they are going to specify Apple's MP3 player. Even buyers who don't care about such things, are likely to be steered toward the iPod should they decide later on they need a digital music player. Auto-makers can be powerful allies and demonstrate the 'iPod ecosystem' extends well beyond add-on carry cases and speakers. it's very powerful brand reinforcement indeed. ® Related stories Creative unveils portable video Vision Napster pays plenty for modest growth in Q1 MS IPTV is lovely, says MS IPTV chap Real finds another profitable quarter Apple hauls mouse technology into 1990s HP and Apple end iPod affair Olive conducts Symphony for classical music fans iPod users in musical hallucination threat
Tony Smith, 04 Aug 2005
channel

Merged Symantec takes time out to harmonise licensing

Veritas and Symantec's sales teams will be kept seperate for at least 12 months following the recently completed merger between the two firms. Harmonising licensing policies between the two firms will only start after this time, giving the new Symantec time to sort out a new pricing structure to replace a model senior execs concedded was far too complicated. Lindsey Armstrong, SVP of Symantec EMEA, described the merger of the storage and security software specialists as a union based on scope, that brought together firms of similar sizes in different market segments, as opposed to a merger based on scale. In mergers based on scale - which bring together companies of comparable size in the same market (such as Oracle and PeopleSoft) - integration is a priority to maximise returns. The opposite is true in the case of Symantec and Veritas where the priority is not to interrupt established sales operations and revenue streams. "Everybody in the company only knows 50 per cent of the organisation and market," she said. Armstrong said that both Veritas and Symantec were frequent acquirers and predicted this practice would consider post merger. "The security market is fragmented by both geography and technology and is ripe for future consolidation," she said. Her comments came during a press conference in London on Wednesday where senior Symantec execs outline the firm's post merger strategy. Symantec and Veritas will continue to sell through their respective channels and there'll be little change in the way the firm comes to market. In addition, Symantec is looking to recruit partners to make more sales in small business and mid-market segments, a particular target for sales growth. John Poulter, Symantec's VP of northern region EMEA, said that for the first six months post merger the firm would be driving two revenue streams. Between six and 12 months, Symantec will concentrate on building a common user interface and integration within new products. A common licensing scheme will become a priority in around 18 months. "We have a lot of work to do on licensing," he said. On the technolgy front, Symantec said the merger create the opportunity to put together combined storage and security products - such as technolgy to provide end to end filtering and archiving of email and intergration between intrusion detection and backup facilities. There's little product overlap between the two firms and therefore no need to choose between competing products which to nurture and which to drop. Last week Symantec announced plans to release more frequent updates of its consumer security products (such as Norton Internet Security) which have traditionally been released annually in September during an earnings call. For the quarter ending July 1, Symantec reported Q1 2006 revenues of $700m 26 per cent up from $557m in the same period last year. Q1 net income hit $199m up from $117m in Q1 2005. ® Related stories Shareholders approve Symantec and Veritas marriage Security and backup for Small.biz Veritas preps secret weapon to ease licensing horror Symantec outlines plans for Veritas 2005: huge turbulence in IT market Can the new Symantec make merging look easy? Symantec buys Veritas for $13.5bn stock
John Leyden, 04 Aug 2005

AOL continues to lose punters

Almost a million subscribers deserted AOL over the last three months as the giant ISP continues to lose customers. As of the end of June, AOL had 20.8m punters in the US - down 917,000 on Q1 and a massive slump of 2.6m compared to the same period last year. In Europe, AOL also lost customers although not to the same extent as in the US. At the end of June AOL Euopre, which includes the UK, Germany and France, had 6.2m users - down 99,000 from the previous quarter and dipping 80,000 compared to last year. The drop in numbers also hit revenues with takings from subscriptions down nine per cent ($168m). And although ad revenues jumped 45 per cent, overall revenues in the three months to June fell four per cent ($80m) to $2.1bn. Yesterday, parent Time Warner agreed to cough up $2.5bn to settle legal action lodged by shareholders dating back to its purchase of 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. ® Related stories Time Warner to settle AOL legal claim AOL UK to charge for tech support AOL faces $200m lawsuit Time Warner mulls AOL float AOL subscribers go AWOL
Tim Richardson, 04 Aug 2005

Marketing dept to blame for website crashes: official

It is as you have always suspected: the marketing department is responsible for around a quarter of the overloads and crashes your poor company website suffers. Website testing firm, SciVisum, spoke to marketing types in 100 UK-based companies, and found that 26 per cent don't ever mention planned online promotions to the guys and gals in the tech boiler room. More than half admit they forget to provide a warning at least some of the time, and nearly two thirds of marketing bods confess to having no idea how many user transactions their website can support, despite an average transaction value of £50 to £100. The consequence of this communications gap is not surprising: 73 per cent of companies reported website failures during marketing campaigns. Presumably the surviving few include the 22 per cent of companies who say they always talk to the tech team about such things. Deri Jones, SciVisum CEO, says that while some of the gap can be attributed to the two groups traditionally not liking each other much, he thinks the problem really starts because marketing and IT approach things from such different angles. "Marketing people have a tendency to blame the tech department when a campaign doesn't go as well as it should, but from a technology perspective, if the server hasn't crashed, everything is working well. IT measures server load, while marketing is looking for completed transactions." Jones advises companies to consider the so-called user journey through the site, and says that it is essential that marketing and IT come together at the planning stages of any campaign to map out what this journey is likely to look like. "The IT department needs to be able to plot this against the website design to ensure there are no hidden barriers to performance. Often, with knowledge of the journeys and the likely load levels, sensible code refactoring and configuration tweaking can give an order of magnitude throughput gains at the critical bottlenecks," he says. He argues that a site can appear to be working just fine when it is under normal conditions, but oddities in the back end can trip users up when the site is under pressure. "If you look at the journey a user makes through a site, and try to follow that journey while simulating a high traffic load, you can find log jams in unexpected places," he concludes. ® Related stories ID theft fears prompt ecommerce boycott Home delivery is the deal-breaker in ecommerce Firefox users turned away from 10% of top UK sites
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Aug 2005

Government admits overselling ID cards

The government had admitted that it has oversold its identity card plans, and now admits the card won't solve every problem facing the country, from fraud to terrorism, via illegal immigration. Despite this, it has pledged to push on with the idea, saying it will still "help" in situations where fraud and identity abuse are factors. Tony McNulty, the Home Office's man in charge of the card, also predicted a protracted battle between the House of Commons and the House of Lords over the question of making the card compulsory. Currently, both houses have to vote in favour of making the card a must-have, but the House of Lords is not expected to support the idea. McNulty says the government is looking at the procedure to "see if it does what we want it to do". Because the switch to compulsion will be secondary legislation, the government will not be able to use the Parliament Act of 1911 to force the change through the House of Lords. McNulty warned of parliamentary deadlock if an alternative is not found, but perhaps he is missing the point of the two-House system, designed in part to prevent governments with big majorities passing legislation unchecked. McNulty's remarks, made in a private seminar in Whitehall, The Times reports, are a clear indication that the government is about to take a new approach in persuading us of the benefits of a national identity database. In particular, he said that the government has been a little too enthusiastic about the benefits the card would bring to the state, rather than to the individual members of the public. The rather abrupt volte face follows a decline in public support for the card, following revelations about the potential cost of the project. Figures released by the LSE suggest the card could cost each of us up to £300 a throw. "We don't resile from it," says McNulty. "Perhaps we ran away with it in our enthusiasm." McNulty has also confirmed that the government will put a ceiling on the cost of the card, although he doesn't specify an amount. The rather empty gesture is clearly aimed at increasing public sympathy for the idea. But since the project will cost what it costs regardless of how much each of us is actually charged, we will end up paying for it one way or another. ® Related stories 'RFID the lot of them!' UK ID card to use Support ID Card 'refuseniks' here No2ID restocks Clarke-busting t-shirt
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Aug 2005

US firm to market breast milk

A US firm has announced that it wants to buy breast milk and then flog it to hospitals for the treatment of sick babies. LA-based Prolacta Bioscience has set its sights on stocks at independent milk banks which it will pasteurise and supply for the treatment of underweight rugrats, the BBC reports. Naturally, Prolacta's primary concern is the welfare of said mewling infants. It also intends to "carry out research to develop breast milk-based therapies". As Prolacta supremo Elena Medo notes: "Human breast milk is really an incredible therapy. Let's try to develop processes where we can preserve every bit of its nutrients and the potent antiviral and all of its diseases fighting properties." But despite these noble sentiments, some have reservations. The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (great name - tell it like it is) has questioned the possible trade in human milk, saying that "introducing the profit motive might pressure women and medical institutions to provide milk to a bank regardless of the needs of their own babies". On this side of the Pond, Rosie Dodds of the National Childbirth Trust chipped in: "There is a need for more mothers to come forward to give their milk, the whole issue needs to be valued more. I can see both sides of the argument. However, I don't think it would work in the UK as it would prove too expensive for hospitals." Too expensive? Ms Dodds seems to think that human breast milk grows on trees. Listen - there's a cost implication here: production; transportation; marketing. Then, of course, there's the breast-milk-therapy R&D budget, execs' salaries and let's not forget the shareholders who - in common with premature babies - want to get fat on goodness-packed mam juice. Still, capitalism is capitalism, so here are a few other money-spinners for Prolacta: Mouth dry? Don't fret - our 100 per cent organic bottled saliva instantly solves that "morning after" feeling. Lack of vaginal lubrication? Try our "Swedish Nymphette" range of natural remedies. Need extra elbow grease? Tinned Bolivian hard graft exclusively imported from the tin mines of the Andes. Short of cash? Ask yourself how much bone marrow your kids really need then call 0666-GREE-D. Related stories 'Rocket fuel' found in US breast milk Boffins grow breasts on mice Jubologist links breast type to personality
Lester Haines, 04 Aug 2005
For Sale sign detail

EDS delivers Q2 jam, much more to come

Electronic Data Systems gave its investors some good news for a change when it reported second quarter figures at the top end of estimates yesterday and forecast 2006 earnings well above analyst’s forecasts. However, it also revealed a big drop in second quarter contract signings from last year’s $4bn to $2.8bn this year. It said it was still on target to pull in $20bn of new business this year. Revenues in the quarter ending 30 June were $5.2bn, down 1 per cent on the year. Net income was $26m, or five cents a share, compared to $270m, or 54 cents a share, last year. On a pro forma basis, earnings were $45m, or nine cents a share. Wall St had expected the firm to lose four cents per share. Revenues were flat in the Americas, rose 11 per cent in Asia but were down 11 percent in EMEA. The firm has had a pretty horrible time in the UK this year, with continued spats with the UK government over contract screwups. EDS said yesterday it had “confirmed” its 2005 guidance, which calls for revenues of $20bn to $21bn, and pro forma eps of 50 to 60 cents. Analysts currently expect 42 cents per share. In 2006, it expects pro forma earnings per share of $1, well up on the 66 cents analysts currently expect. Related stories Redundant EDSers threaten legal action UK Inland Revenue may sue EDS EDS tax fiasco hit with two barrels EDS UK cuts jobs EDS moves to profit in Q1
Team Register, 04 Aug 2005

Developing alien technology? MS can help

Black helicopter alertBlack helicopter alert You know how it is - you're out in Nevada developing a hypersonic stealth vehicle based on alien technology and you've written the whole thing down in a Word document and you're about to release the astounding news to a gobsmacked world when you realise that the document contains sensitive information about how Microsoft has been abducting and anally probing Utah farmhands for years in an attempt to discover whether a penchant for open source software is genetically inherited and whether it can be combated by a combination of low-frequency mind control and packing lots of new and exciting features into the MS Office suite. Don't panic - help is at hand in the form of the Office 2003 Word Redaction Add-in: Redaction* is the careful editing of a document to remove confidential information. The Microsoft Office Word 2003 Redaction Add-in makes it easy for you to mark sections of a document for redaction. You can then redact the document so that the sections you specified are blacked out. You can either print the redacted document or use it electronically. Sensitive government documents, confidential legal documents, insurance contracts, and other sensitive documents are often redacted before being made available to the public. With the Word 2003 Redaction Add-in, users of Microsoft Office Word 2003 now have an effective, user-friendly tool to help them redact confidential text in Word documents. We're not quite sure what the difference is between "redaction" and "deleting" here, but presumably if we could work it out an MS black ops team would storm the building and erase our memories with an MIB-style device. Still, it's better to be safe than sorry, even if Microsoft does add the following caveat: We recommend that you carefully review any documents redacted using this tool to confirm that all the information that you intended to redact was successfully redacted**. Yes, then eat the original, set fire to the building and kill yourself using the "Redmond Blue Pill" as supplied with your end user licence. Thank you. ® Bootnote *In our dictionary, "redaction" is simply preparing for publication, or editing. Mind you, it is an 1873 edition - printed long before Microsoft redefined the English language paradigm with its magnificent Encarta offering. Bootnote II **US Military take note. Related stories Microsoft cloaks Area 51 Microsoft man wins WWW (Worlds Worst Writer) fiction award That classified US military report's secrets in full
Lester Haines, 04 Aug 2005

Hasta la Vista, baby

Virus writers have created proof of concept viruses targeting the scripting language behind prototype versions of Vista, the next version of Windows. An Austrian virus writer has published five simple viruses targeting Microsoft Command Shell (MSH), the command line interface and scripting language, in a virus writing magazine. None of these pieces of malware have been named as yet [How about phista - Ed?]. As MSH (codenamed 'Monad') is scheduled to ship as the default shell for Windows Vista (which was released in beta form last week), these five items of malware could be classified as the first viruses for Windows Vista. However anti-virus firm F-Secure is careful to note that it's still uncertain whether or not MSH will ship with Vista or not. MSH is a replacement for shells such as cmd.exe and command.com and although currently slated for inclusion in Vista it may end up in products such as the next version of Microsoft Exchange instead. The possibility of MSH viruses was forecasted last year by anti-virus researcher Eric Chien, of Symantec, in a presentation at the virus bulletin conference. ® Related stories New Vista name, old Windows problem for Microsoft Schwarzenegger virus terminated MS faces court over Vista First PocketPC virus found First 64-bit Windows virus sighted .NET virus is .NOT Microsoft Donut virus highlights holes in .Net
John Leyden, 04 Aug 2005

Skip the border guard, fast-track the IT - security, UK style

AnalysisAnalysis Well, well, well. On 5th July The Register noted that the only passport control for travellers exiting the UK via Waterloo Eurostar terminal was operated by the French, and observed: "No doubt they're telling us how many of our terrorists are leaving the country." Or not, apparently - bomb suspect Osman Hussain, arrested in Rome last week, is thought to have fled the UK via Waterloo Eurostar on 26th July. The Government spokesman the media could get hold of last weekend, leader of the House of Commons Geoff Hoon, said that the Government was looking into whether there should be "additional" passport checks on Eurostar, and added that the matter showed the need for identity cards because "it's vitally important that we know who is coming in as well as going out." Meanwhile the Observer reported plans by ministers to accelerate the introduction of the e-borders system in order to increase border security. So shall we just sum that up? A terror suspect appears to have fled the country by the simple expedient of walking past an empty desk, and the Government's reaction is not to put somebody at the desk, or to find out why, during one of the biggest manhunts London has ever seen, it was empty in the first place. No, the Government's reaction is to explain its abject failure to play with the toys it's got by calling for bigger, more expensive toys sooner. Asked about passport checks at Waterloo on Monday of this week, the Prime Minister's spokeswoman said we do have passport checks - which actually we do, sort of. But, as we'll explain shortly, we also have empty desks to go with them. Hoon asserts that "enhanced security" for both entry and exit has been in operation in recent weeks. However, on 28th July, seven days after the second bombing attempts and two days after Hussain is thought to have used the terminal, there were again no formal UK exit controls at Eurostar Waterloo. There is no justification for this sorry situation, but there is an explanation. There are approximately 120 immigration officials based at Waterloo, but their area of operation includes the UK passport checks on passengers boarding trains bound for Waterloo. UK checks on exiting passports were abandoned last year. At most UK ports and airports passports need to be presented at check-in, whether or not there is also a check operated by UK immigration. At Waterloo, however, there is no requirement for Eurostar to check passports, so the only thing stopping you (up until, we would guess, Monday 1st August) boarding a train with no ID at all was the French immigration desk. It's likely that Eurostar is a special case not because of any particular truculence on the company's part but because the ticket check is an automatic turnstile, the system designers having wrongly anticipated that UK immigration would be manning the UK immigration kiosks immediately beyond those turnstiles. So whereas most carrier-operated passport checks don't need extra staff because they're undertaken during a manual check-in, Eurostar would have to employ extra people and figure out someplace to put them. At this juncture Eurostar regulars might pipe up, "At the immigration kiosks, of course, seeing immigration isn't using them!" But this is what's been happening elsewhere anyway, sort of. The Government has been progressively increasing the requirement on carriers to keep accurate passenger lists and to make them available to the Government, and the current immigration bill includes more provisions in this area. Entry and exit checks by immigration officers, where such checks exist, vary greatly; they could be random stops, a simple check of the face against the passport, or the machine readable section of the passport might be checked. Watchlists exist, but you can see the problem here. If the only comprehensive lists of those entering and exiting the UK are the ones generated by the carriers, then in order to operate a watchlist effectively it's necessary for those lists to be available to the security services immediately, in a digital format that they can work with. This however is something that security forces throughout the world would like to be able to do, rather than something they have already achieved, and the various flubs associated with USA-bound European flights last year indicate that there's more than a little desperate hand-tooling to what they've got right now. Quite obviously, even if travellers lists at some points of departure were available online immediately before travel (which we doubt is the case), then not every last check-in desk is going to be on the network. What we've got now, therefore, is a system where comprehensive lists of entries and exits can only be compiled and consulted after the event. So they might be helpful in terms of 'he went thataway', but they're useless in terms of 'stop that man!' Now, consider what all those immigration officers are doing in Paris, Brussels and Calais, and why those desks at Waterloo are empty. The Home Office has over the last few years been determined to get a lid on illegal immigration, and in particular, to stop people appearing in the UK and then claiming political asylum. Nabbing them before they actually get to the UK means they have to claim asylum where they're nabbed. This approach has been relatively successful, and you'll have noted that the reduction in asylum claims is one of the few impressive immigration statistics the Government has. But if the immigration service is putting much of its efforts into stopping people getting in, there is a possibility that its effectiveness in dealing with people going out might well decline. This seems to be what has been happening; if we consult this report, we see John Tincey, a representative of the immigration officers' union, pointing out that post-bomb instructions to put staff on exit controls have interfered with the ability of his members to chase up failed asylum seekers, which threatens their ability to meet Home Office removal targets. And it seems pretty obvious that the removal of exit checks last year was a direct consequence of Home Office demands that these targets be met. If these priorities ever made sense, then quite clearly they didn't after the attacks of 7th and 21st July, with controls after the 21st being particularly vital, as the would-be bombers were all alive, and being sought. Controls of sorts were imposed after the 7th, but then removed on the 17th and reinstated on the 21st. Tincey's complaints make it clear that these controls were (and presumably still are) stressing the system, and the mysterious removal of controls on the 17th does seem to indicate that the system still doesn't want to let go of the immigration priority, and hasn't grasped that with current resources the fight against terrorism and the fight against illegal immigration can't both be prosecuted effectively. Tincey also tells us something about the nature of the controls that were reinstated. These checks, he told the Times were not proper embarkation control but an immigration service operation "'in support of Special Branch'. Immigration staff helped Special Branch officers to check passports against a list of suspects." At Waterloo at least, these checks must have been a combination of random stops and of individuals the Special Branch officers thought resembled people they were looking for. It's not clear who they might have been looking for from 7th-17th July, but from the 21st the list would have included the four whose pictures had been widely distributed. The picture of the suspect thought to have exited via Waterloo was however the worst of these, and he wouldn't have been readily recognised. The defects of this as a border control system (even if we skip the defect of it being temporary) are clear. As whatever watchlist that's being operated is not being checked systematically against all of the passports going out, you're only going to catch a fugitive via a visual ID or a lucky random stop. A system where you've got somebody on the desk checking every passport is by no means perfect, because it doesn't necessarily nail people travelling under another name, but it's better than giving them a very good shot at just waltzing out of the country on their own passport. Even without a network, it should not be beyond the wit of man to knock up a system that machine reads the passport and checks it against a digitised watchlist. Sure, it's not e-borders, but it's something you could start deploying next week if you could bring yourself to pay the staff needed to operate it. Instead of which, we're having an enquiry which will no doubt eventually come up with the fairly obvious conclusions that you're not going to catch people if you're not really looking for them, and that the pursuit of immigration targets has severely impacted our ability to look for them. Alongside this, our inability to police our borders adequately will be presented by the Government as justification for the accelerated deployment of the IT schemes that will fix everything. Honest. The e-borders fix So shall we just look at how e-borders proposes to do that? The Observer story has a helpful rundown of the brochure. "The 'e-borders' scheme - under which passengers' details will automatically be scanned against police, intelligence and immigration watchlists before they reach the boarding gate - is not due to be introduced until 2008. However, ministers are investigating whether the programme, which also keeps an electronic record of people leaving Britain, can be speeded up because of its potential usefulness as a weapon against terrorism." We should consider where these scans take place, and against what. Currently the only possible source for a comprehensive list of travellers, as we've already established, lies in the carriers' passenger lists. So in order to check against these, e-borders needs to be online to the carriers, and it needs the carriers to provide full lists of passengers as soon as they're completed, or at least prior to the passengers' arrival at their destination. Interestingly, even currently pending immigration legislation doesn't place such a requirement on carriers, so we can expect more laws, involving a heavy IT spend for carriers, to underpin e-borders. In addition to that, there will have to be substantial IT spend at the Government end. That could be accounted for in some way as part of the ID scheme spend (which as we've pointed out repeatedly here, isn't really accounted for as such), but although e-borders is clearly ID scheme related, any move to accelerate its deployment would be undermined if it were dependent on the ID scheme at too early a stage. Accelerating the ID scheme as well probably isn't an option, but that might not stop them trying. As and when (or if) the ID scheme does ship, and in the unlikely event of the global biometric ID vision ever shipping to go with it, we can see an alternative definition of what's scanned. ID goes in machine, ID is checked against watchlists, passenger goes through turnstile or, lights flash and squads of heavily-armed officers descend. But again we have to consider who's installing and operating the scanning equipment. If the system is seen as a progression from the current UK system (yes that's right, the one that doesn't entirely work right now), then it's possible that the check will still be devolved to the carrier, and that immigration will maintain its current 'wide perimeter' approach to incoming travellers. But the biometric check is only useful if the process is sufficiently supervised to guard against spoofing or passport switching. That means you either rely on the carrier to supervise, or you put more immigration staff on the case after all. Carrier supervision is not necessarily secure, because the carrier's primary goal is to avoid transporting passengers without proper documentation (the immigration imperative again), not national security. Incidentally, right now there's no guard against ID switching at most UK or continental ferryports - all they do after the passport check is count heads, and the area beyond the passport check is usually walk-in, walk-out. Freddie Forsyth got rich spotting this kind of loophole... I've got a little list. Not But shall we just pretend we've got sufficient IT deployed to produce traveller data that we can check? Now, what is it that we're checking against? These "police, intelligence and immigration watchlists" e-borders is intended to check against are actually things we'd like to have, rather than ones we have, as such. There is no single, up to date watchlist for any of these categories, and there is most certainly not a single 'electronic alarm list in the sky' that can be compared with lists of entries and exits. The UK's various police forces aren't even in a position to exchange wanted lists with one another easily, and there are obvious problems in dealing with the more specialised lists the various arms of the security services have - in many cases, these people aren't going to want to tell everybody else who they're looking for, right? (This was possibly the case at Waterloo - the security services are thought to have had the suspect's name on the 26th, but it hadn't been made public, so they might not even have told the immigration officer standing beside them.) And immigration watchlists? Well, when David Blunkett was at the Home Office (which was when exit controls were abandoned, we should note), his repetition of "clean database" with reference to the National Identity Register was all too telling. Some indication of the unclean nature of the databases the Home Office currently has is provided by a recent National Audit Office report, which found that the Immigration and Nationality Directorate had full records for only 155,000 of 283,500 failed asylum seekers who could still be living in the UK. Some of the missing may have left of their own accord, or they may not have. We may never know. Nor is the situation regarding immigration data in general likely to be any better. Historically many of the stamps used by IND to denote visa or residence status in passports have been trivial to forge, and although more fraud-proof versions have been introduced in the past couple of years, the earlier versions are still valid. You can get an idea of the problem if you consult IND's guide to stamps for employers. Some of these (including the eminently potato-printable Indefinite Leave to Remain) have no dates on them at all, so unless IND has completely accurate records of when all of these were issued, then it quite possibly can't be sure whether or not a stamp it is purported to have issued is genuine. Does IND have such lists? It's doubtful. The Home Office spent several days trying to check the immigration status of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead by police on 22nd July then accused (by "security sources") of overstaying his visa. Ultimately, however, the Home Office issued a statement which suggested (but did not state categorically) that his Indefinite Leave to Remain stamp was forged, referring not to IND records but to the actual stamp in the passport as indicating this. Which suggests they couldn't find a record of issuing an ILR, but couldn't necessarily be confident that their not being able to find one meant that one hadn't been issued. Nor, given that they still don't say it definitely was forged, is it entirely certain that they're sure now. Which does leave IND looking very much like an organisation that has no lists of sufficient substance to put into the watchlists. No failed asylum seekers list, no visa overstayer's list, no lists of those who have been issued with one or more of the many different permissions regarding residence and employment status the Home Office has granted in the past, and is granting now. The quality of the permissions it has and is granting is also an issue, because in doing so it is in effect creating a UK identity of some sort for the recipient. The issue that led to the resignation of Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes last year provides an example of how such ID can be dubious in origin, and how the processes tend to drive its creation. Large numbers of applications, many of them obviously fraudulent, were granted in the UK, often against the advice of staff in the originating country, in order to clear a backlog. This is sufficiently like the situation with respect to border control that one can reasonably think of it as being a feature of the organisation. Ministers push for backlogs to be cleared, staff are redeployed and processes accelerated in order to deliver, standards drop and holes appear elsewhere in the organisation as a consequence. In business terms you could think of it as the fire brigading approach to management. Captain Technology will save us! We've come some considerable distance from our start point, the simple problem that our border security is currently inadequate, and the Government response that its weakness shows the need for high tech border control systems and ID cards. But it's necessary to cover that distance - and more - in order to illustrate that the systems that are presented as a simple technological fix to an immediate problem will require radical changes and upgrades across a wide range of systems before the fix even gets viable, never mind simple. You can't check ID credentials if you haven't deployed mechanisms to check them, and you can't check them against anything if you haven't got working systems to generate the data to check against. And if you're pouring dubious ID credentials into one end of the system in order to generate ID which you have then defined as 'good' (e.g. "Osman Hussain's" British passport, because maybe he's really called Hamdi Isaac) then maybe you're just checking a dud ID against dud data. "Details will be scanned automatically against police, intelligence and immigration watchlists before they reach the boarding gate"? Sure. In a couple of years, in the unlikely event that the deployment can be accelerated and all of the other IT systems it will depend on can be up and running by the same time. Meanwhile there are at least some people who seem to think we're in some kind of war, and some of these people are also telling us that we do have border checks, while failing to mention that these border checks can't by their nature work effectively, and can't be maintained without either more staff or a change in priorities for the immigration service. We have an immediate problem, a dubious and unsustainable short term sticking plaster solution, and dreams of technology that will solve all of our problems at some point in the future. So, how many Whitehall enquiries does it take to say it? Pay people to stand at the desks and check passports, start trying to co-ordinate, digitise and distribute watchlists to check the passports against and (tougher one, do it after you've done the easy bits) try to stop fire brigading from one backlog crisis to the next, and start thinking about the big picture. ® Related stories: Ministers want e-borders fast-tracked How Blair high tech 'security' pledge will fix the wrong problem Blair's Britain vies with US in ID snoop wars UK gov pilots passenger tracking in fight against terror
John Lettice, 04 Aug 2005

easyMobile 'pleased' with 15k users

Easymobile - the no-frills, discount mobile outfit - has managed to sign up 15,000 punters since it launched the service back in March. Boss Frank Rasmussen said he was "pleased with the results" adding that the mobile outfit had "successfully made an impact on the UK mobile market". "By the end of June we passed the 15,000 customer mark and we remain optimistic that we will continue following our business plan going forward - not least as customers are proving to be very loyal and satisfied with our service," he said. In May easyMobile denied that it was a flop after a report said it had only signed up 5,000 punters. When it launched in March Easymobile - backed by easyJet entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou - claimed to have sparked a "mobile war" in the UK amid claims that this new cut-price approach would shake up the sector. ® Related stories easyMobile wins 'bad faith' domain case against Carphone easyMobile puts up prices Bright future for Europe's MVNOs No-frills MVNOs to steal market share easyMobile.com takes aim at easymobile Easymobile denies it's a 'flop' TDC target for take-over - report easyMobile launches - finally
Tim Richardson, 04 Aug 2005

Apple Mighty Mouse

First UK reviewFirst UK review Apple has insisted that mice need only one button for so long that its stance has become an article of faith for many in the Mac community. What a shock then that this week it should release a mouse with essentially not one but four buttons. And some of you thought the shift to Intel was bad... Truth is, Mac OS X has had multi-button mouse support for ages, and I for one have been happily pushing a Logitech job around my desk in order to get fast access to contextual menus, now a key component of the Mac UI - though not, of course, when Apple began shipping one-button mice. With a one-button mouse you can still access contextual menus, either by holding down the Control key, or simply clicking and holding. But there's no doubt a dedicated mouse button is best. Ditto a scroll wheel, for navigating long documents, and the Mighty Mouse, as the new Apple peripheral is styled, has one of those too. The Mighty Mouse works straight out of the box, sort of. Mac OS X 10.4.2's Keyboard and Mouse control panel already spotting the presence of the scroll wheel and introducing a speed setter control accordingly. But installing the bundled software adds the ability to customise the buttons and, crucially, allowing the 'right-hand button' - Apple calls it the "secondary" button - to work. I say 'right-hand button' in quotes because in truth it isn't. The Mighty Mouse has a single button as earlier Apple mice did. Inside, a sensor detects where your finger is - they work by detecting changes in the circuits' capacitance - and on that basis decides whether the click should be treated as a left-hand button or a right-hand one. This is fine if you keep your fingers ever poised above the mouse, only touching it when you want to click. But if, like me, you rest both fingers on the mouse's surface, it can't work out which kind of click you want and defaults to left. The Mighty Mouse is comfortable enough to use, particularly if you're used to Apple's rounded-rectangle design. If you've become accustomed to something more contoured - my Logitech notebook mouse is distinctly fatter at one end that the other, for example - it feels unusual. There's a third button positioned on the left-hand side of the mouse where your thumb rests, and an identical one on the other side, similarly positioned for left-handed users. Apple talks about the Mighty Mouse's 'squeezability', but it's a simple thumb-switch. It could have allowed you to customise both of these buttons, but it assumes you'll be using just one, with your thumb, though it's perfectly possible to operate both. Well, almost. The buttons are positioned too far forward for my shortish fingers, though lank-fingered arty types should have no problem. In any case, I'd have liked a little more 'give' in the either switch, which have almost no movement. There's some audio feedback, courtesy of a clicker inside the mouse - unplug it and you can't hear a thing - so I suspect it too operates through a sensor. Pressing the scroll wheel in activates the mouse's fourth button, though I should say it's not really a wheel at all but a tiny ball. The upshot is vertical and horizontal scrolling without the need for the convoluted rocker mechanism Microsoft builds into certain of its mice. The Mighty Mouse's ball is perhaps no easier to use, but it feels better. It's not as 'steppy' as other scroll-wheels feel, but it's not totally smooth either. It's precise enough to give you pixel-level scrolling in some apps, though not others. As usual Apple has provided a cable that's rather short, but since its mice are usually connected to a keyboard or a notebook, that's less of an issue than it might be for PC-connected rodents that need to run to the floor and round behind the system unit. A USB extension cable would solve the problem had Apple chosen to bundle one. Given the price, it should have, particularly since it notes the rodents ability to work with Windows XP and 2000. The cable is thin, too - about three-quarters of the width of the one on my Logitech mouse. At least the cable seems well secured at the mouse end - I've seen too many transparent Apple mice where one of the fine wires has broken here, rendering the device useless. That's not an issue with cordless mice, and hopefully a Bluetooth Mighty Mouse is in the works. Verdict I like the Mighty Mouse. The thumb button is tricky, but otherwise it's reasonably comfortable to use. The single physical click/two virtual clicks mechanism works well, and the scroll nipple is a joy to tease... er... push. But while the Mighty Mouse is better than some I've tried, I'm not sure it's worth more than double the £15 I spent on the Logitech. ®   Apple Mighty Mouse   Rating 75%   Pros Good solution for horizontal and vertical scrolling; does just what it says on the tin.   Cons Favours the long-fingered; rather expensive.   Price £35/$49   More info The Apple Mighty Mouse site
Tony Smith, 04 Aug 2005

CAN SPAM case upholds email filtering rights

US appeals court judges have upheld the right of a University to filter unsolicited emails even if they conform to the CAN SPAM Act. The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the University of Texas was within it rights to block emails from White Buffalo Ventures, which operates dating site LonghornSingles.com, irrespective of the fact that they featured an unsubscribe option, valid return address and accurate subject line. Like a lower court, the appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the University of Texas (UT) hadn't violated White Buffalo Ventures constitutional right to free speech by stopping thousands of unsolicited messages before they hit user's in-boxes. The University started blocking the messages as part of its wider attempts to reign in the spam problem on campus. According to the Houston Chronicle the University of Texas only began blocking messages from White Buffalo after the firm failed to comply with a cease and desist order. Austin-based White Buffalo started spamming UT after obtaining the email addresses of students using a Freedom of Information Act request, a legal but ethically questionable use of the facility that does nothing to attract sympathy to its subsequent "cartoonish" legal efforts. ® Related stories Phishing attacks soar as viral onslaught wanes Lighten up: spam should be a game FTC cracks down on email smut barons
John Leyden, 04 Aug 2005
channel

Investors bury Brocade on dismal Q3

Shares of storage switch maker Brocade were pounded this week after a troubling third quarter revenue drop rattled investors' nerves. Brocade revealed preliminary third quarter results of revenue between $121m and $122m. That's a shocking miss from a previous forecast issued in May of revenue between $140m and $145m. Investors dropped Brocade from around $4.60 per share to less than $4 per share on the news. During today's trading, Brocade shares crept back to $4.03. Management blamed higher than expected interest in new 4Gbit products instead of 2Gbit kit for falling gross margins, slow overall sales and inventory buildup. "While we are pleased that end-user demand for our new 4Gbit family has been much stronger than we expected, this has affected our 2Gbit switches and directors," said Michael Klayko, CEO at Brocade. "It is clear that customers recognize the value proposition of 4Gbit and we are encouraged by the progress that we are making with this transition. While the impact on the director business this quarter is disappointing, I am confident that our business is positioned to accelerate through the transition and positively affect top line growth beginning in the fourth quarter. We continue to expect it to take two full quarters to reduce OEM inventory levels." Brocade, which expects to lose 3 cents to 4 cents per share during the third quarter, has suffered through a rough 2005. It has lost market share to McData and Cisco, causing two consecutive quarters of poor results. In addition, the US SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) has started an investigation into how Brocade handled four years of stock options. ® Related stories Dell customers offered McData meal with their blades Larry Ellison's storage toy goes after EMC and NetApp US SEC shows Brocade its formal probe Brocade to restate four years of financials as DoJ and SEC look on Brocade blames March for Q2 shocker
Ashlee Vance, 04 Aug 2005

Microsoft develops new 'Super' language

When Microsoft's recently appointed chief financial officer Chris Liddell told Wall St his job’s biggest challenge is learning a whole new language, he wasn't kidding. According to Liddell, former CFO for International Paper Co, Microsoft has 230 official acronyms that he suggested analysts should take the time to learn and use in every-day conversations and presentations. No doubt all the better to understand what exactly it is Microsoft is talking about. Timely advice, as it turned out, for those watching Microsoft's annual financial analysts summit where Liddell was speaking and where Microsoft broke ground in hyperbole to "evangelize" new products, services and strategies. Seasoned Microsoft watchers, and users, will be well aware of Microsoft's penchant for re-defining the English language. From the Encarta encyclopedia to spell checkers in Word, Microsoft has taken the concept of "American English" to a whole new level. Now, Microsoft has developed a need to slap "super" in front of all manor of verbs, nouns, trans verbs and adjectives to sell the vision. Accordingly, executives at last week's conference were not just "excited", they were "super excited" about a range of products including Computer Cluster Edition, Visual Studio 2005 and Expressions Studio, various Community Technology Previews (CTPs) of planned products, and the Windows Vista first beta. All of these products, of course, were not just "important" but "super important", "super cool" and would "super charge" the market. And don't worry about that PC industry, folks, 'cos unit shipments are growing "super nicely". A quick analysis of data points from last week’s conference revealed the following market leaders for “super”, based on numbers of times used: super excited: 6. super important: 2. super nicely: 1. super charging: 1. super user: 1. super rate: 1. super cool: 1. super launch: 1. Breaking that out by executive: server and tools generalissimo Eric Rudder came top, with a score of 10 and an apparent softspot for "super excited" (used five times). Will Poole, Windows client vice president, was second, while chief executive Steve Ballmer, in a surprisingly lackluster performance, came third, playing "super nicely." As ever with the IT industry you have your early adopters and your mass-market users, and so it goes with Microsoft's lingua franca. With senior management buying into "super", it is falling to Ballmer - who promised analysts at last year's summit Microsoft would either be first to market or it would be "super cool" - to raise the “super” stakes. Describing the importance of indexed search and retrieval in Windows at last month's partner conference in Minnesota, Ballmer went one further, by describing the capability as not just "super" important or even "super, super" important, but, he ruminated: "Super, super important, super important." Watch out for next year's analysts’ summit.® Related stories Developing alien technology? MS can help The English language according to Microsoft MS Encarta facts vary, depending on edition Ballmer - No blockbuster takeovers Microsoft charging more, giving more?
Gavin Clarke, 04 Aug 2005
cloud

Is the web's love affair with PHP over?

If Evans Data Corp (EDC) is to believed, then some big names in enterprise systems have been rash in their support for open source scripting language PHP.
Gavin Clarke, 04 Aug 2005

Microsoft shops for new COO at Wal-Mart

Microsoft has reached outside of IT and into the cut-throat world of retail shopping to appoint its next chief operating officer. Kevin Turner was on Thursday named COO, having joined Microsoft from Wal-Mart, a company accused of killing local business and famed for its non-unionized workforce. Turner, a 20-year Wal-Mart employee, recently served as president and chief executive of the retail giant's $37bn Sam's Club warehouse stores. Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer said in a statement, "More than ever, Microsoft’s growth opportunities abound as a result of our strong product innovation pipeline. Kevin’s leadership of global technology, sales, marketing and services will help ensure we harness this potential and fully realize the growth opportunities before us.” Turner, a former Microsoft customer through his work at Wal-Mart, called Microsoft a "very exciting place in which to contribute and work to change the world." Microsoft's COO post has been vacant for three years, since the previous incumbent Rick Belluzzo left in the spring of 2002. Turner, 40, will be responsible for strategic and operational leadership of Microsoft's sales, marketing and services professionals and Microsoft's fulfillment and IT operations. Kevin Johnson, currently group vice president of worldwide sales, marketing and services, is to be given a "new senior executive role" during the next 30 days. Former Wal-Mart executives have been making their way around the tech scene of late. HP just pinched ex-Wal-Mart CIO Randall Mott from Dell. ® Related stories Ballmer - No blockbuster takeovers MS EMEA chief to lead international sales push Quantum signs Belluzzo as CEO Microsoft names new president and COO
Gavin Clarke, 04 Aug 2005