12th > August > 2005 Archive

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Lloyd's taking on open source IP risk

ExclusiveExclusive Lloyd's of London is close to offering independent insurance protection worldwide against potential IP litigation involving Linux and open source software. The financial services giant has agreed to take on the risk associated with open source, and is finalizing arrangements to work through Open Source Risk Management (OSRM) who will become Lloyd's sole US representative. OSRM will assess both the risk of the software in use and the individual company, before passing on the risk to the appropriate insurance company on the Lloyds market. OSRM expects to announce the first customers this Fall, and will initially charge organizations $60 per server. The partnership between OSRM and Lloyd's will be vendor independent, differing from many of the existing intellectual property (IP) protection programs that are primarily designed to ward off attack from the litigous SCO Group. Red Hat, Hewlett Packard and Novell in January 2004 all announced separate protection for customers using their Linux products. JBoss in April this year announced indemnification for its middleware, including JBoss application sever, Cache and Hibernate object relational mapping technology. The type of coverage provided by Lloyd's also promises to be substantially larger than vendor-backed programs thanks to Lloyds' size and capital backing. "This is a huge step," OSRM chairman Daniel Egger told The Register. OSRM first announced plans for indemnification with backing from major financial institutions in March 2004. The group was expected to provide the service shortly afterwards in 2004, but Egger said the program had been complicated to arrange. "We have lined up the capacity. We have the exclusive right to begin to offer this risk category and we have the customers who want the cover," he said. An OSRM study found 15,000 patent issues in the Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/Python (LAMP) stack. While OSRM believes Linux and open source are, on the whole, safe from IP claims their increasing use by large companies opens the door to suits from those hoping to simply cash in. Arguably, one of the worst-case scenarios is the so-called "colorable case" - where there is no substance to an IP claim, but a company is forced to waste millions of dollars to defend the claim or settles early for a large sum to make the case go away. The average US patent action is estimated to cost $2m, according to the American Intellectual Property Lawyers' Association. Those likely to threaten companies and users are commercial software vendors and a growing number of specialist organizations that buy IP patents in order to charge users for their use. "There is a risk, but it's a material risk," Egger said of Linux and open source. "We are trying to make sure we are not exposing corporates to risk that makes using Linux uneconomic." Today's vendor-backed plans are unable to provide full protection because they cannot risk protecting parts of the software stack they did not write, he argues. That's a potential issue for organizations with the full Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/Python stack develped by different companies. "Our long-term goal is to get to a standardized policy," Eggers said. ®
Gavin Clarke, 12 Aug 2005
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Perens: Torvalds' patent pool is useless

Open source activist Bruce Perens has dismissed as inadequate a new IP initiative backed by Linus Torvalds. The Open Source Development Labs' (OSDL) patent commons project is intended to provide patent protection to open source developers. Perens, speaking at LinuxWorld, compared the patent pool to "spitting in the wind" -because the patents it contained come from "the wrong people." OSDL, home to Torvalds, announced the commons project at this week's conference in San Francisco, California. The project will provide a library and database that aggregates patent holders' patent pledges along with a collection of software patent licenses and patents. Torvalds said in a statement the commons project would help developers deal with the threat posed to open source by patents, by making it easier for patent holders to make their patents available in a common pool. "Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source," Torvalds said. Companies which have donated IP to the community this year include IBM, Nokia and Sun Microsystems. But Perens says the pool is flawed because the patents would only come "from the friends rather than the enemies of open source". He added that the pool could not defend developers against patent claims because most of the patent holders have cross-licensing deals with each other. "If Microsoft turns out to be the aggressor, that does not help," he said. "The pool turns out to be spitting in the wind." Perens says a legislative and political approach, including lobbying politicians, is required to tackle patents in software. He noted open source infringes on "tens of thousands" of patents granted in the US and that companies taken to court over these would "lose some of the cases." "We have to understand this is still an extremely fragile phenomena," he said. "There still exists legislation that would allow a pernicious company or companies to shut down development in US or other nations. Until we solve that problem we shouldn't be sleeping." ®
Gavin Clarke, 12 Aug 2005

Vodafone customers suffer mystery number blockage

Vodafone has confirmed that a large number of its customers have been unable to make calls to Orange customers whose phones start with the 07800 prefix. According to Register readers, the problem began last weekend, with Vodafone customer support staff acknowledging the problem by Monday. When we spoke to Vodafone, engineers were not sure exactly how many people were affected, nor could they say exactly what the problem is. As for a fix, there is no certainty there, either. A spokesman for Vodafone says they are hoping to have the problem rectified in the next couple of days. Our thanks to Ophicle for the tip. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Aug 2005
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Nvidia reports Q2 income jump

Nvidia's earnings bloomed during its second fiscal quarter, despite a slight dip in sales, the graphics chip maker revealed yesterday. For the three months to 31 July 2005, Nvidia realised revenues of $574.8m, up 26 per cent on the year ago quarter's $456.1m, but down 1.5 per cent on the previous quarter. Q2 FY2006 net income jumped 16.1 per cent sequentially and almost fifteenfold year on year to $74.8m (41 cents a share). That's the highest quarterly net income Nvidia has posted since the $83.2m (47 cents a share) it posted in Q1 FY2003 (calendar 2002). The company recorded "strong" year-on-year revenue growth for its Quadro workstation graphics chips, and its nForce system logic products - sales were up 40 and 128 per cent, respectively, Nvidia said. It also claimed good growth for desktop GPU sales, but did not provide a figure. The company also launched its GeForce 7800 GT chip yesterday, the follow-up to the higher-end 7800 GTX launched in June. This month has also seen the release of two new Quadro chips, the FX 4500 and FX 3450, both bringing SLi support to the workstation segment. For the first six months of fiscal 2006, Nvidia reported a net income of $139.3m (77 cents a share) on sales of $1.16bn, both up 425.7 and 25 per cent, respectively, over H1 FY2005. Arch-rival ATI's most recently completed quarter, the third of fiscal 2005, running to 31 May 2005, saw the company report a net loss of $400,000 on sales of $530m. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2005
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Mac users demand 'slow SuperDrive' fix

Evidence is mounting that a major write-performance problem is affecting certain Mac-mounted optical drives and troubled Mac users have begun petitioning Apple in the hope of a fix. So far, users claim, the Mac maker has been unwilling to acknowledge the issue, let alone provide a solution. According to Steven Haigh, the issue is centred on the Matsushita UJ-835E DVD-R built into all SuperDrive-equipped PowerBook G4s and Mac Minis. Irrespective of the make of discs used in the drive, Steven's machines refuse to burn at any speed approaching the 8x performance Apple claims the drive is capable of. The best he can get is 2x performance. Steven's website links through to a number of discussions on Apple's own support forums in which dozens of other Mac users complain of similar problems. A number claim they can get 8x performance, but only by using Apple-branded media, believed to be manufactured by Verbatim. Long-established Mac website MacInTouch followed up on the users' claims and found its own 12in PowerBook G4's Matsushita UJ-835E would only burn Maxell and Taiyo Yuden DVD-Rs - rated for 8x and 16x usage, respectively - would not burn faster than 2x. The same discs achieved 12x and 16x performance on an external Pioneer DVR-109 drive, MacInTouch claimed. Steven's petition asking Apple to provide a firmware fix for the alleged glitch has thus far gained 282 signatories. Apple describes the drive in its latest PowerBooks as "the phenomenal 8x SuperDrive (DVD±RW/CD-RW)" but its technical specifications says it "writes DVD-R discs at up to 8x" (our italics). The caveat is there because DVD writers are notoriously quirky when it comes to recording on certain media. However, the number of different media which are alleged to run well below par on the SuperDrive suggest Apple may have a particular problem to address. In a recent roundup of 16x DVD-R drives, hardware-oriented website AnandTech notes: "The two things that help create a great performing DVD-R drive are the hardware (laser, DSP, motor, etc.) and the drive's firmware. A drive's firmware can be the final deciding factor of its overall performance, or even the performance of a single area." We suspect Apple may have coded its own firmware strongly to favour burn reliability over performance, but users certainly appear to want a balance tilted more toward the latter. The question is, will Apple respond? ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2005

Britney to drop sprog on live TV?

Britney Spears' squeeze Kevin Federline wants the highly-talented chanteuse to drop her sprog on live TV, a breathless Yahoo! reports. Britney is due to eject her bun in October, and young Kev reckons - in the wake of the couple's recent ratings flop Chaotic - that the sight of the pop sensation, legs akimbo, grunting her Hollywood rugrat into the world might prove an audience-puller. Britney is, lamentably, not so keen - not because it's about as low as you can go in terms of self-publicity - but because she's worried about how she might look on camera. A "friend" said: "Britney feels that when a woman gives birth, she's certainly not looking her best, and she doesn't want to have to worry about how she looks in front of the camera when she should be concentrating on birthing a healthy baby." Well quite. To be fair to our Brit, her mate does add: "Britney told me that it wouldn't be Kevin screaming and crying out in pain on TV. She said giving birth should be a very private thing for just Kevin and her to share, and that she's not sure she wants the whole world looking on." Good for you girl. But then again, Britney's pal concludes: "Britney has agreed to allow Kevin to tape the big moment with their personal video camera, and depending on the outcome and just how difficult a time she has, she says she might reconsider and allow it to air after the fact." Hmmmm. That's all well and good, but we can't help feeling Kevin may have missed the boat here. After all, we reckon the real ratings hit would have been video evidence of the conception, complete with cervixcam to capture the explosive climax to the event. The advantages of such a "Britney gets banged up" TV special are obvious: unlike giving birth, where you don't really have much control over proceedings, there's nothing to prevent a girl taking a quick breather so her hair stylist and make-up guru can move in to repair the damage caused by torrid rumpy-pumpy. A bit of judicious editing and viola! - an immaculately-coiffeured Brit going at it like a jack rabbit. Now that's entertainment. ®
Lester Haines, 12 Aug 2005
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Intel to ship Xeon 5000 dual-cores this year?

Taiwanese server maker sources have claimed Intel could be planning to bring forward the debut of 'Paxville', the chip giant's first dual-core Xeon processor. The 90nm Paxville is currently scheduled to ship during Q1 2006, when it will be released as the Xeon 7000 series. However, sources cited by DigiTimes, claim the part could debut in the final quarter of this year. No reason was given for the move, but presumably Intel wants to get Paxville out of the door more quickly now that AMD's already dual-core Opteron family is beginning to build a solid share of the x86 server market. Intel is also expected to push its Virtualisation and Advanced Management Technologies strongly in the latter part of the year, primarily through their addition to desktop Pentium processors. But Intel may want to show availability of a VT-enabled server part too. Intel announced earlier this month that when the dual-core server chips debut they will carry model numbers. The Itanic family will be the 9000 series, while the Xeon line will be offered as the 5000 and 7000 series - what were once known as Xeon DP and Xeon MP, respectively. Chipset and CPU nomenclature will match, the better to identify them as platforms rather than discrete products. Uni-processors systems will carry the 3000 tag, but that will only apply to the chipsets for now - the CPUs will follow the standard desktop naming scheme. Paxville will be followed in Q3 2006 by 'Tulsa', which will take the Xeon 7000 series into the 65nm era. The 65nm 'Dempsey' - aka the Xeon 5000 series - is expected to ship Q1 2006 alongside 'Sossaman', derived from the 'Yonah' 65nm dual-core notebook chip but validated for server usage. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2005

Chief beancounter gets five years for WorldCom fraud

Scott Sullivan - the beancounter who fingered Bernie Ebbers for the $11bn (£5.8bn) WorldCom fraud - has been sentenced to five years in jail for his part in the monster con. The former financial boss of WorldCom had already pleaded guilty to his part in the conspiracy and his testimony helped nail Ebbers - the WorldCom chief exec who masterminded the US's biggest corporate fraud. Dishing out his punishment yesterday US District judge Barbara Jones described Sullivan as "the architect of the fraud at WorldCom" although prosecutors acknowledged that Ebbers' conviction would not have been secured without Sullivan's testimony. When Sullivan took the stand in February he told the court: "I falsified financial statements of the company, made adjustments to revenue for the purpose of meeting analyst expectations." Asked who else took part he replied: "Bernie [Ebbers], David Myers, Buddy Yates, Betty Vinson, Troy Normand." He told how Ebbers was eager to hit high growth rates and recalled telling Ebbers that the only way this could be done was by manipulating the figures. Said Sullivan: "I told Bernie, 'This isn't right.'" Ebbers replied: "We have to hit our numbers," Sullivan said. Speaking yesterday Sullivan told the court: "Every day I regret what happened at WorldCom. I violated the trust placed in me. My actions are inexcusable. "I chose the wrong road and in the face of intense pressure I turned away from the truth. I ask for leniency so that the consequences of my behaviour do not fall on my wife and daughter," reports the International Herald Tribune. Last month Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in chokey for orchestrating the world's biggest securities fraud at WorldCom and looks set to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Ebbers - who wept in court as the sentence was handed down - was told that he had made WorldCom "become synonymous with fraud".
Tim Richardson, 12 Aug 2005
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HP buys Scitex super-wide printer ops for $230m

HP is moving into super-wide format printers by buying the business of Scitex Vision for $230m cash. The acquisition gives HP a leg-up in the world of billboards, banners street advertising and sundry visual pollution of public spaces, where Scitex Vision is the market leader. Scitex Vision is owned by the Israeli printer giant, Scitex. It turned over $142m for the year to June end, 2005. HP says Scitex Vision’s proprietary technology for print heads will give it competitive advantage. And there are synergies – usually a synonym for job cuts – to be had in the supply chain and sales channels. Digital printing for super-wide formats is growing fast – it should double its 17 per cent share of the market within five years, according to HP. The deal should close within 90 days. ®
Drew Cullen, 12 Aug 2005
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Intel 'preps' Pentium 4 6xx price cuts

Intel will take the axe to its Pentium 6xx series price-list this weekend, Taiwanese motherboard maker sources have claimed. The cuts, reported by DigiTimes, are said to see the 90nm single-core processor family's prices reduced by up to 33.7 per cent. The cuts will see each model drop a price grade: the 670 will fall from $851 to $605 (down 28.9 per cent), the 660 from $605 to $401 (33.7 per cent) and the 650 from $401 to $273 (31.9 per cent). The 640 and 630 will fall further, from $273 and $224, respectively, to $218 and $178, the sources allege. It's likely the cuts are being made to make room for upcoming additions to the 6xx family which will introduce support for Intel's Virtualisation Technology (VT). Those parts are believed to be numbered 662 and 672 to indicate the benefits of VT even though other speeds and feeds match those of the 660 and 670. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2005

Gov.UK preps ID card contracts

The Government has set out the massive IT and support infrastructure it intends to source for the planned national identity system. The Home Office's Identity Cards programme laid down its expected requirements in an information notice to potential suppliers on 11 August. Formal procurements are due to launch once the identity cards legislation, now before Parliament, receives Royal Assent. According to the notice, the procurement activity is likely to include the following: The creation, hosting and maintenance of a National Identity Register (database(s) and software services) - hosting is likely to require significant data centre capability (either built for purpose or existing) Biometric recording and matching technology Services to manage the end to end process of registering individuals onto the database and maintenance of the database Network, IT and communications systems (and support services) Technical integration services Scheme Integration services Secure production and distribution of Identity Cards/ Documents Provision of office space/ FM services (both for enrolment and administration) Corporate support systems/ services Contact centre support services Services to support the provision of Identity verification services to user organisations (including accreditation of user organisations, account management and marketing). In another new development, the ID Cards programme said that it plans to produce a procurement prospectus "once requirements and potential procurement strategies have been defined". This document, states the notice, "will set out the thinking on requirements and packaging options and seek market views on assumptions and issues." Suppliers can register at the programme's website to be alerted when this is published. The final contract authority, the notice says, may be the new executive agency that the Home Office expects will deliver the ID cards scheme and take over the work of the UK Passport Service. It adds: "Potential procurements covered by this notice may include the current business activities of the UK Passport Service and may involve delivery of new services or build upon existing systems and processes." Identity Cards Programme Procurement Notice © eGov monitor Weekly eGov monitor Weekly is a free e-newsletter covering developments in UK eGovernment and public sector IT over the last seven days. To register go here.
eGov Monitor Weekly, 12 Aug 2005

Technology in schools: for fun, education, hacking & explusion

LettersLetters Rockstar bagged itself another set of headlines this week after promotional shots of its new game, Bully, upset parents, and anti-bullying campaigners. Surely, though, this uproar has rather played into the hands of the games company. After all, we know that there is rarely such a thing as bad publicity: Anyone who thinks Bullying Online’s concern is misplaced should remember the murder of Luke Walmsley who was stabbed to death in a school corridor by a fellow pupil who was said in court to be obsessed with violent films. Screen violence clearly does have an effect. We started getting complaints from parents about this game in June and wrote to Rockstar asking to talk to them about it. By then we had already been contacted by the Daily Mirror and a gaming magazine in the US seeking our views. Unfortunately Rockstar chose not to respond although they have since phoned us and told us the game is like "Just William" A game with a publicity screenshot of two kids in uniform, one kicking the other while a third stands by looking menacing with clenched fists isn't like any family viewing TV drama that we've ever seen! Of course Rockstar will be enjoying the hype, but that’s no reason to keep quiet about a game which uses violence for fun. It doesn't matter what age restriction this game has. Teenagers will play it and are going to be influenced by what they see on screen. A few years ago we had numerous complaints about pupils using wrestling throws on each other after watching World Wide Wrestling on TV. The government currently has a big Respect agenda to try to curb indiscipline and bullying in schools. This game is going to send completely the wrong message. Cheers, Liz Carnell Bullying Online www.bullying.co.uk Sticking with the gaming in education theme, we also covered news that four schools in the UK are to embark on research into whether or not computer games have any part in formal education. The research is being part-funded by Electronic Arts: Perhaps right to be cynical, but some games, with the right teacher input, can clearly be used as valuable teaching aids. Some ten years ago or more, we used the original DoS versions of SimCity and Civilisation in teaching situations here in Thailand. The former was used to stimulate students to create their own data, think about planning and consequences, and then to write about it. I presented this as "SimEducation." Detailing use of computer games as a supplement to English learning. Thai TESOL Conference, Bangkok. And also produced an article in the Bangkok Post about the same time, using examples of text from one of the students. Civilisation was slightly different as this was aimed at reading skills, but it was (as a first) difficult to keep students AWAY from assignments, while the alternate weeks of TV based instruction, was not as well attended. Other games in the same genre like the long lamented Transport Tycoon and the more recent Sims are prime examples of suitable input, particularly as the Sims (like Civilisation) has text files that can be edited and/or replaced. There is no point sitting the students down in front of a monitor and saying, "play". They need a structure to follow and that depends on proper teacher input. Without that, it will be a waste of time. Graham This isn't new - 14 years ago in my first year of secondary school we did something very similar - we played the BBC Master version of 'Sim City' as a learning tool. And that's just the first time one of the 'Sim' line of games was used to my knowledge -back in the mid-eighties at Primary school the *whole point* of the BBC Master was to play educational games. Back in those days, a computer in the classroom wasn't to teach kids the fundamentals of Microsoft Office, it was simply about being used to complement normal learning . Someone ought to give whoever at NESTA Futurelab "thought this up" a big slap in the face and rename them NESTA Retrolab. Steve MS has removed a scripting tool (dubbed Monad, of MSH) from the final version of Vista after some clever sod wrote a proof of concept virus using it: I am sure that I won't be the only person to point out that the obvious pronunciation for Microsoft MSH is "mush". :-) Felix A UK firm has started a legal movie download service, offering full length films starting from £6.99, and music videos from £1.50: Why so expensive? If the movie industry realised that it could rent out movies for £2 a title (valid for 7 days) using DivX and distributed with BitTorrent, they'd be onto an absolute winner. Even if I could download anything I wanted illegally for free, I'd still rather pay £5 to download and keep a non-DRMed (but digitally watermarked) DVD-quality film, legally. But asking for more than half the cost of an average DVD is, to my mind, unreasonable. It's not like you are getting the media - you have to provide your own - and many people also have to pay for the bandwidth they use to download any data (especially if BitTorrent is used for distribution). Downloading always has costs attached to it, particularly if your connection is slower and/or your machine is more powerful (electricity). As it is, there are already better legal alternatives online (such as greencine.com, but for some reason you have to have a US credit card to pay for a service which can be received world-wide. If they accepted credit cards from outside the US, they'd totally massacre every competitor out there). I do not see why anyone would go back to VHS quality when DVD quality is already available online. So many codecs (such as DivX, XviD and WMV) allow you to compress a DVD-quality movie into something small enough to fit on a CD - this cannot have escaped the studios. So why are they trying to feed us this sub-standard VHS-quality crap? The music and film industries need to realise that the world has changed, and peoples' expectations of value for money have gone up in line with the failing economy. You can't ask for more and more of peoples' disposable income when they are struggling to feed themselves and keep a roof over their heads - while they watch their skilled jobs going to the Far East. This isn't the booming 80s or 90s anymore; if you want to sell to a premium market now, try India or China - but don't expect them to play by your rules. Oliver. Proof that we are solidly into the silly season emerged this week, with the news that Brighton cabbies are to hand out free condoms to passengers. Trojans, no less. Well, we had to: I can think of an IT link to Trojan Condoms. They have some superb adverts on their website (or they did a few months ago). So good they circulated through e-mail and P2P. Look for the sex Olympics. Ross I suppose using the full name of the malware, "Trojan horse", for the product might have gone down ... differently ... Regards, Mike A New York radio station was fined $240,000 for running a slapping contest. Bizarre, but true. Apparently, the contest breached local regulations governing the "promotion of combative sport": You are absolutely right. We New Yorkers need more reality radio & television showing spoiled rotten, self indulgent, "princesses", slapping each other silly to win concert tickets, money and infamy. If you've ever been exposed to the infantile whining of a Long Island princess (think Fran Drescher), a bitchslap fest would be considered by most UPSTATE New Yorkers to be (simultaneously), the ultimate in high comedy AND justice! You British folks think you have a corner on Nanny State Politics & Big Brother? Just come to the State of New York and witness the actions of Eliott Spitzer, self styled "Protector of the Universe". Where is He-Man when you really need him! For the most part Spitzer has done some good things here, especially related to suing spammers out of business. However this case oversteps the bounds of personal freedom as we here in the "Good Ole USA" have the "God Given Right" to be as "Stupid as We Wanna Be"! Obviously, New York's case seems a bit weak (Combative Sports law is a stretch Eliott) and the judgment should be appealed on the basis that consenting adults of legal age should be able to do just about anything they want to each other as long as they agree to do so and there is no coercion (How many S&M Bondage clubs are there in NY City?) Not to mention that anyone who would agree to make such a laughingstock of themselves, have probably signed away any right to sue. Ever hear of the Howard Stern show and the "Spankomatic"? Will we be forbidden to see or hear the endorphin fuelled, squirming antics of thong wearing "Skanky Ho's" brought to the edge (and sometimes over) of fake orgasm by an electromechanical spanking machine? Are the various network's "Reality" shows next? We "Mericans" reserve the right to live vicariously through the stupidity and debasement of others. Billions of advertising dollars and one of the simple pleasures of life are at stake here. Who out there could honestly say that they wouldn't pay good money to see Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie slap the teats off each other? Perhaps the lobbyists from the WWF should make a "contribution" to Spitzer's political campaign so we can see the "Hilton/Richie SteelCage Deathmatch" live on Pay per View. Of course, they would have to trim their fake nails and leave the vicious little ratdogs home, but oh WHAT an event that would be! The only "combative sport event" that would be better is the upcoming Hillary Clinton vs Jeanine Pirro mudslinging card for New York State Senator. Now I KNOW that Eliott Spitzer won't intervene in that "Deathmatch" and it will be highly televised! Forgive me, I have to go watch the Gerry Springer show! Sarcastically Yours, Dan Paul Pray do not continue such pusillanimous writings. Tell us what you REALLY think ! [Yes, an effort to make you think, for a split second !] Mr. Spitzer is only trying to enforce what he thinks is proper behaviour ! Hopkinsesque, indeed ! We, the righteous (anyone in the U.S. who includes a plethora of "shoulds" in their opinions), have to look out after the less intelligent of our countrymen. And if some get burned at the stake, then it is only for the common good (No, I'm not a descendant of Cowrin or Hathorne). == O.K., enough of THAT tripe !! VERY good article ! Yes, both our countries seem to have went through that period, although we started a little later than you did. Also, Folks in the U.S. seem to have never quite gotten over it !! I just wish more people would pay attention to the "righteous", and wake up to the dangers they represent. To that end, I hope LOTS of folks read your article !! THANKS !!! (and , of course, keep up the good work !!) Jim B This week we reported that a group of Open University researchers were trying to find out how many women trained in the UK as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE), how many took the exams, and how many subsequently took jobs. Their efforts were somewhat hampered by Microsoft's reluctance, and then inability to disclose the data. We had a few responses to this one. Let's start with the interesting one. After that, we'll need someone to check which decade we're all in. Thanks. The response from Microsoft is either misleading, or the person you spoke to was not familiar with their own methods of correlating MCSE information. Microsoft hosts a MCSE section on Microsoft.com, where certified engineers can view their certification history, including the dates every exam was passed. All access to this site is through the well known ".NET passport" system of verification, where gender must be provided amongst other fields. As such, the MCSE data is most definitely "owned" by Microsoft, and gender is a cross referenceable field associated with the account of the MSCE qualified engineer. Name withheld We want equal rights!! but you must treat us differently too! Typical womens rights nutters if you ask me, it hasn't even occured to Microsoft that it is an issue, they just hand out certificates to anyone that shows up, pays a buck, and ticks the right boxes. "Whenever I go on a training course I am normally the only female there!" so..on the first day there was only one woman? so the others didn't show up and leave because of the male only atmosphere, they just didn't apply in the first place. Perhaps women aren't showing up because they are being oppressed by the men, or perhaps they just don't want to get an MCSE. I'd even go so far as to suggest that women aren't (on the whole) interested in IT judging by the bored look they all get when anyone mentions a computer. if you look for prejudice it'll be there, as my boss is so fond of saying "Pay a witch hunter, and by gosh they will find you a witch!" When she finishes this study, perhaps a study into whether blonde people would do better in blonde only environments. I'm 99% certain that's why I got a D in GCSE History. Had I been surrounded by young blondes I'd have done far better David There is a very simple root cause to all of this. The top 80-89% of desirable posts usually have to be fought for, because like any good thing in life, they are in demand. Nature ensures the survival of the fittest, even in the business world; competition determines who gets all the desirable posts out there. Men invariably get these positions because they are natural fighters - we've had to be, in order to survive and feed our families. Although we earned our keep thousands of years ago by killing buffaloes and wooly mammoths, natural law hasn't changed - and neither have we. The level of civilization may have gone up by several orders of magnitude, but we're still the same competitive creatures we've always been. The world, too, still has limited resources that are subject to competition - and there will *always* be less supply than demand. This is not a new concept! This is where most women don't look so good, though. They aren't the sort of people who compete, for the most part. As such, they usually get any kind of desirable position snatched away from them by the first man who *is* willing to fight for it. Expecting the laws of nature to change because women can't deal with testosterone is about as reasonable as men expecting women to shut up because we can't stand their nagging. Neither is going to happen, so we should just deal with it. No company in their right mind is going to introduce a server room just for women (where do you think MCSE graduates will end up working?), so we may as well dispense with this kind of idiotic thinking before we even begin. I can't help thinking that if I "sort of sit there like a shy violet at the back and not say anything" in any company, I deserve to be overlooked for any desirable position - now or in the future. Success is made, not found. Unfortunately, this is one of the downsides of equality. Women are expected to earn their keep in a man's world - where the rules of Nature reward masculine abilities, not feminine ones. This is represented by the amount of men out there with the choice pickings, compared to the number of women. Many women do not appreciate that if they want to get ahead in life, they need to lose the "shy violet" attitude, assert themselves and fight with the rest. If they aren't willing to get their hands dirty, well, there's a saying: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." I don't think most women lack the skill or aptitude to actually do these jobs. But far too many of them do lack the spirit to compete - and competition is *the* key factor. Such women do exist, and you'll find them in the other 11-20% of desirable roles. Just as you'll probably find male flower arrangers, secretaries, fashion designers and HR assistants - in about the same proportions. Oliver. The next person who invokes biological determinism should be reminded, as Oliver is about to be, that not long ago scientists thought man would never run the mile is under four minutes because his heart would explode, and that women couldn't study physics because their brains would overheat. Next. In an age of loyalty cards and biometrics it's nice to see (in this instance) Microsoft not caring about details and isn't this what we all want, better IT people not more IT women, or whichever gender happens to be the minority at the time. If these women can't cope in a mixed training environment, how are they going to manage in the work place? Anyway good luck to them finding an all female business to get a job in. Niall Diversity is important - but why do you support diversity efforts ONLY in areas where politicians have decided to cut down the proportion of men? Look at teacher training in the UK: In 1950, some 38 % of primary school teachers were male, now a mere 10.4 % males are trained by teacher training institutions. This figure is lower than the proportion of women in Parliament where Labour has imposed female only canditates at elections. At secondary school level: Male representation is 14 per cent down since the 1970, and falling 1 per cent every 2 years. Are you saying that children no longer need diversity because femcentric politicians say so? Are you saying we need a culture where many more women have to be driven into IT, while our schools become female ghetto institutions where males only exist in wornout books? Look at social work: In the 1970s Social Work Training institutions produced an output of graduates where men and women were roughly 50:50. Now, 30 years later, the very same institutions produce an output where less than one in 5 trained social workers is male! They even celebrate the decimation of diversity as " This shows the success of our equal opportunity policies". Why do support measures that decimate male representation in the workforce? I love The Register - but please evaluate if The Register really must blindly suppor a Labour Party agenda which seems to want a culture where young men are educated by institutions that only hire women, and that teach an agenda which only seeks to promote the interests of women. I believe that diversity + equal treatment is too important to treat it as a female-only matter. Best Regards Eugen Hockenjos By way of explanation, we write about the IT stuff because we are an IT site. Mostly we try to stick to the subject, except when it involves slapping contests on New York radio. See above. As for your fears that men will be driven from the workplace by swarms of marauding women, you probably don't need to worry. Some topline figures for y'all: In the UK, on average, male graduates earn 15% more than females. Women hold less than one in ten university professorships. Similarly, they hold less than one in ten of the top positions in FTSE 100 companies, the police, the judiciary and trade unions Even in traditionally "female" careers, where women make up the majority of the workforce, they tend to be under-represented at senior levels. For example, 80% of primary school teachers are female but only 65% of primary school heads Panic over? Taking inspiration from long-dead Egyptians, the UK's nuclear clean-up force needed to find a way to store disposal instructions for future generations. They elected to swap high-tech document storage for papyrus, since it is likely to be around longer, and tends to be less in need of upgrades: It's an awesome idea... but if we're preparing this for people who will live in a few millennia, where's the Rosetta Stone for it? It's a little hard to read what's on the papyrus if one doesn't understand the language... Cheers, Phillip This begs an interesting future prospect, wherein an archeological expedition uncovers this trove of treasures from the past. As the documents in the tubes will take time to be unwrapped, unrolled and properly deciphered, lets open the big boxes first! And thus began the curse of the mummies tomb ... part 2. Walter Have any curses (ancient egyptian or modern liberal gov't) been placed on said waste container sites to prevent "desecration"?? John Reminds me of a project I saw a while back. Scientists, architects, psychologists, all working together to design a nuclear waste storage facility. Not only do you have to put it somewhere that wont be destroyed by a volcano, but you have to make sure no-one opens it for 10,000 years. Since the English language is unlikely to be around in it's current form in 10,000, a big "DANGER" sign would be pointless, so that had to design something that looked like it contained something very dangerous but totally worthless. If it looked to impressive, people might think it contained something of value. Too plain, and people might not realise the risk of the content. They also had to make it so that people wouldn't try living near it. They ended up with what looked like a partially shaved hedgehog... Nathan And finally... A group of US kids is faced with expulsion from school, and a possible criminal prosecution because of some mild hacking of the school system. Apparently one of the nefarious 13 actually viewed (gasp) pornography. Let that be a lesson to the numpty who taped the administrator password to the back of all the school's machines. I agree with the parents on this matter, as we have had almost the same problem here in the UK, the teachers and governing bodies involved are overreacting alot. Personally I think they are just pissed off that some 15 year old kids out smarted them. My younger brother did something along the same lines, he sent a message to every single computer in the high school saying "you smell" using the net send command in windows XP. He was threatened to be expelled and for what? exposing a security flaw or pissing off the head master during an ofsted visit? If anything they should be thanking the kids for exposing the flaws and how easy it is to do, specially when the password is written down on the back of the machine... Pfft! Americans! Daniel By eck, when I were a lad we 'acked our schools 'puter network and then college network properly, by programming, admittedly Novel Networks requires some level of skill to secure properly, but even with no execution rights but for a few office applications it became clear VBA was our own little regedit and then some ;-) Martin I really hope there is a statue of limitations on this sort of criminal activity. I don't want the cops to haul me and the gang back to face our principal for crimes years in the past. Incidentally I remember doing a similar thing in high school so I could read the BOFH stories archived on El Reg. The reason why the authorities crack down on this is that adults hate kids that are smarter than them. Dan I tend to agree with you guys at El Reg. It doesn't matter -WHAT- the kids were doing; the point is they did break the rules and circumvented the programs set in place to limit their surfing abilities. If you break into a bank vault, you're going to get the book thrown at you regardless of whether or not you actually try and leave with any of the cash. Furthermore, the school has nobody to blame but themselves for being so blatantly STUPID as to taping the administrator password to the back of the machines. I'm only 26; when I was still in high school, the Internet was in its mainstream virginity, and our computer labs weren't net connected... However, the school administration did do student recordkeeping from the very same machines in the lab.. In that situation, using the principal's last name as the administrator password was a Bad Idea. However, I didn't do anything mischievous - I just left a note on the Administrator account saying they really ought to think of a more secure password. As you wrote, "The parents of the Kutztown 13 claim that the school has overreacted, and that the kids are being punished for making monkeys of the system, rather than any serious misdemeanour." True in a sense, but the kids still broke rules. If anything they should have pointed out the obvious shortcomings of the security instead of exploiting it. Aeryck Americans: Admin password taped to back of machine ... Kids get done. Back in MY day - had computers been something worth bothering with - we'd have fleeced most of the staffs' online bank accounts and been charging £5 (paypal accepted) for 5-minutes of watching the webcam we'd have installed in the girls' changing rooms ... 'kids these days eh. Chat!!!? Andy Your comment "Older readers will recall that such behaviour in our day would certainly have attracted a sound thrashing with the birch and most likely transportation to the antipodes." rang a bell - I'd just found the following whilst trying to trace a relative. Flogging is just not enough. 6th March 1840 - Richard TAYLOR, 32, and James KNOWLES, 26, charged with having, on the 3rd of March, inst., at Bradford, in the West-Riding, feloniously stolen twenty pairs of clogs, eighteen pairs of pattens, seven pairs of shoes and other articles, the property of one Henry HARDAKER. And the said Richard TAYLOR is further charged with having, on the 4th of March, inst., at Bradford aforesaid, feloniously stolen, taken and carried away, twenty-two pieces of worsted stuff, the property of one Charles TETLEY. Richard TAYLOR, 32, Guilty of shop breaking. To be transported beyond the seas for the term of ten years. James KNOWLES ? Guilty of the like ? To be imprisoned and kept to hard labour in the said House of Correction at Wakefield for one year. 5 March 1785, JOHN FORTUNE, guilty of stealing Linen from a Bleaching-Croft above the value of ten Shillings. To be Hanged on Saturday the second day of April next. John HUTCHINSON alias John SOWLEY aged 50 years Received 1st June 1826 Brought before the Court 8th July 1826 "Charged upon the oath of Charles HORNBY of Osmertherly (sic) in the North Riding Innkeeper with having on the 12th day of May last, feloniously stolen, taken and carried away from and out of the dwelling house of him the said Charles HORNBY aforesaid sundry articles to wit ten yards of blue cloth and two brass candlesticks of the value of ten shillings the property of the said Charles HORNBY" verdict: Guilty. Judgement of death entered on record. Martin And on that note, we'll wish you a happy weekend. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Aug 2005

£200K card skimming gang caged

Four members of an ATM card skimming gang blamed for stealing at least £200,000 were each jailed for four years on Thursday. The unfantastic foursome, all from Eastern Europe, put false facias on cash machines and filmed shoppers entering their PIN numbers. The London-based gang were caught when staff in a Cardiff hotel became suscipicious and called the police. Investigators arerested the gang and recovered a cache of hi-tech equipment from their hotel and a car including laptop computers, cameras, tape recorders, radio transmitters and a false fascia for an ATM machine. The gang used a wireless link to download card data onto a laptop. Police recovered the card details of 129 accounts leading to charges they might have netted up to £200,000 through the scam. Prosecutor Nuhu Gobir told the court: "Equipment seized from the defendants showed the defendants were engaged in a well-organised and highly sophisticated operation to defraud banks of thousands of pounds. The false fascia was examined and found to contain an electronic card reader and memory recording for retaining the details of bank cards. This would be done when the cards were put through the fascia. The criminal technique involved in this is known as 'skimming'." Rulan Ashan, 20, from Chechnya, Ivan Grosu, 23, from Moldova as well as Romanians Lucian Carabgeac, 32 and Vornicu Florin, 26, were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court after admitting consiracy to steal. Each faces deportation after serving their sentence on the recommendation from Judge Christopher Llewellyn-Jones. ATM users were urged to be vigilient about using their cards. ®
John Leyden, 12 Aug 2005

Scientists blame balloons for climate change debate

Researchers at the US' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may have overturned one of the key weapons in the armoury of climate-change sceptics. Data from weather balloons in the 1970s has long puzzled scientists, because it appears to contradict computer models of global warming. Most models have a strong link between the temperature of the air, and that of the Earth. But atmospheric data showed little or no change in atmospheric temperatures since the 1970s, despite warming at ground level. However, it seems that this data was not subject to proper analysis, the scientists say, and the impressions it gives - that temperatures have remained roughly constant in the intervening decades - is misleading. "Even though models predict a close link between atmospheric and surface temperatures, there has been a large difference in the actual measurements," said study leader Steven Sherwood, an associate professor of geology and geophysics at Yale. "This has muddied the interpretation of reported warming," he told Reuters. The problem lies in the placement of the temperature sensors. Early on in research, the sensors were in exposed positions, often in direct sunlight. Just as standing in the sun on a warm day feels warmer than standing in the shade, this led to temperature readings that were too high. In later research, the sensors were changed to reduce this warming effect. However, the discovery that the earliest data is likely to be misleadingly warm does help explain the discrepancies between the models of the lower atmosphere and the data. It suggests that the temperatures are likely to have risen, after all. The research team says that once the warming effect is accounted for, there has most likely been an increase in temperature of 0.2 degrees Celsius, each decade for the last thirty years. The research, published in the journal Science, shows that "we can't hang our hats on the old balloon numbers", as Sherwood puts it. Reuters reports that two additional studies published in Science support the findings of Sherwood and his team. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Aug 2005

Lawyer vows to prove link between video games and murder

Outspoken attorney Jack Thompson has said he will win the civil case brought against the publisher of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and others by the families of policemen shot dead in Fayette, Alabama in 2003, allegedly by a youth obsessed with the video game. A jury this week declared Devin Moore, 20, guilty of the murder of police officers Arnold Strickland and James Crump, and civilian police worker Leslie Mealer. Moore had pleaded not guilty by reason of mental defect. Thompson represents the familes of the victims, who launched a civil action against GTA:VC publishser Take-Two Interactive, game retailers GameStop and Wal-mart, and PlayStation producer Sony in February this year. After being arrested for the triple homicide, Moore was alleged to have said: "Life is a videogame. Everybody has to die some time." Moore is known to have spent many hours playing GTA:VC, dubbed a "murder simulator" by Thompson. "Moore rehearsed, hour after hour, the cop-killing scenarios in that hyper-violent video game," Thompson said. "The makers, distributors, and retailers of that murder simulator equipped Moore to kill as surely as if they had handed him the gun to do it. "Blood is on the hands of men in certain corporate board rooms from Japan to New York." In an email sent to The Register Thomspon said: "The video game defense was not used in [Moore's trial], as the defense counsel decided not to retain any expert witnesses on the issue. "We have the experts, and we shall win our civil case on the issue." Moore's prosecution, in part, relied on the failure of the defense to produce expert witnesses to back up their claim of diminished responsibility. "Did you hear any expert tell you anything about a video game contributing to these crimes?" Prosecutor Chris McCool asked the jury during his closing comments. "Not a single one of the surviving family members is saying that Devin Moore is not responsible, in every sense, for what he did," said Thompson. "They would be the last ones to say that. What they are saying is that there is plenty of blame to go around, and some of it falls on Sony, Take-Two/Rockstar, Wal-Mart, and GameStop." Miami-based Thompson has long been a vocal critic of video games that portray sex and violence. Most recently, he dubbed EA's Sim 2 game a "paedophile's paradise" because some characters take showers in the nude. While their privates are discreetly out of focus, Thompson claimed it was possible to hack the game to ensure the pixellated pudenda are clearly visible, and this it was possible to do so with child characters. EA denied the allegation, stating the genitals are invisible, even if the blur is removed. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2005

NZ man held in Oz rabbit bestiality dragnet

A New Zealander working in Sydney as a "finance industry professional" has appeared in court charged with animal cruelty, bestiality and drug offences following the deaths of 17 rabbits and a guinea pig. Reuters reports that the man was cuffed in his office at 1am this morning after a probe by cops and Australia's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He faces 18 charges of "aggravated cruelty to animals", one count of bestiality and - just to put the cherry on the top of the cake - two counts of possession of cannabis. The alleged offences were committed between July 20 and August 20, Reuters notes. The suspect did not enter a plea or apply for bail and was remanded in custody until an appearence at Sydney's Central Local Court on 19 August. The authorities' reaction to this outrage seem surprising, given that Australia waged war for years against the cast of Watership Down. Perhaps if the alleged offences had been perpetrated on cane toads the detainee might not now be facing the full wrath of the law. As regards the man's nationality, we leave it to our Australian readers to make merry with that. ®
Lester Haines, 12 Aug 2005
channel

Wide open Vistas beckon for Microsoft in Germany

Microsoft has bought the German trademark rights for Vista, the name for its next iteration of Windows, codenamed Longhorn. In the US, the company could face a court battle over the name. Vista.com, a Redmond-based software firm,is checking if Microsoft's Vista trademark infringes on its own; and other objectors could emerge, according to founder John Wall, who notes that the word is very common. But life is easier in Germany for Microsoft, according to trade publication Markenbusiness, which broke the news. It reports: "With the purchase of the trademark ‘vista’ in Germany, Microsoft has now monopolized this concept for its own products." Which is nice. Microsoft paid a six-figure sum, (presumably euros) – considered par for the course - for vista.de, vistacom.de, the trademark ‘Vistacom’ and the picture trademark ‘V’, Markenbusiness says. The seller is Vista Computer GMBH, a Northern German firm, which is changing its name. ®
Drew Cullen, 12 Aug 2005

Cabir mobile worm gives track fans the run around

Phone-mad Finns are coping with a minor outbreak of the Cabir mobile virus at the Athletic's World Championship in Helsinki this week. Cabir, which infects smartphones running Symbian Series 60 using Bluetooth short-range radio communication technology to spread, is flourishing in the packed stadium area. The version of Cabir spreading drains the power of the infected phones as it tries to propagate but is otherwise relatively harmless. "At most we are speaking about dozens of infections, but during a short period and in one spot this is a huge number," Jarmo Koski, a security official at telecoms firm TeliaSonera, told Reuters. Prospective victims need to accept a download to get hit by Cabir and security researchers reckon many handsets get infected simply because users get fed up with being prompted to allow a connection. Moving away from an infected phone is an effective defence if a malign connection is attempted in, for example, a bar but is harder to apply when you're in a crowded stadium where perhaps the best approach is to turn off Bluetooth on potentially vulnerable phones. "This [Cabir spreading] happens easily when you gather tens of thousands of people from all over to world to a very small area. In fact, to some extent the same thing was happening during the Live 8 concerts earlier this summer," said Mikko Hyppönen, director of anti-virus research at Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure, in a posting on the firm's blog. "We now have staff at the stadium assisting visitors in cleaning out affected phones." ®
John Leyden, 12 Aug 2005
globalisation

AMD pursues NEC, Fujistu

AMD vs IntelAMD vs Intel AMD continues to send NEC fresh subpoenas, adding more names to the list of staff it believes possess evidence that will prove its allegation that Intel acted contrary to US antitrust law. Documents filed with the US District Court of Delaware this week and seen by The Register show a pair of new subpoenas, both of which name Hirofumi Okuyama, an NEC Senior VP and head of the company's US operation. NEC has already filed a series of objections to AMD's subpoenas, saying they are "vague and overly broad", "unduly burdensome" and "seeks materials irrelevant to the subject matter of this litigation". AMD lawyers also filed documents that revealed they have issued a further subpoena to Fujitsu's US operation. This second request likewise extends the list of Fujitsu employees AMD believes hold documents that will back up its claims. Intel has until 6 September to respond the AMD's complaint. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2005
arrow pointing up

Intel to detail next-gen chip design

Intel will unveil its next-generation processor architecture in just under two weeks' time, the chip giant said today. Due to ship in H2 2006, the architecture will result in "processors that are high-performance, energy-efficient and multi-core", the company said. "New form-factors" for PCs will be enabled, it promised. The beans will officially be spilled on 23 August, when CEO Paul Otellini kicks of Intel's bi-annual Developers' Forum. The show will also see Intel reveal more about 'Napa', the third generation of Centrino, along with its plans for enterprise desktop and server platforms, and for more domestic-oriented products. The corporate and home roadmaps will undoubtedly be strongly influenced by Otellini's revelations. They, in turn, are likely to centre on 'Merom', the follow-up to the 65nm dual-core mobile chip, 'Yonah'. Merom is due to debut mid way through 2006, followed not long after by 'Conroe', a desktop version of the processor. Conroe is believed to derive from today's Pentium M family, themselves an offshoot of the old Pentium III. Intel's next-generation architecture is believed to rely heavily on the Pentium M, but adapted to support HyperThreading and some of the more multimedia-friendly features introduced with the company's current architecture, NetBurst, found in today's Pentium 4 desktop CPUs. As it stands, the Pentium M architecture doesn't lend itself to HT, for example, though Yonah will incorporate some NetBurst-esque features, including SSE 2 and SSE 3 support, Intel has already said. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2005
cable

Sun to shed around 1,000 jobs

Sun Microsystems' UK workforce will be hit by its plans to shed around 1,000 jobs worldwide over the next year, as part of the company's drive to reduce costs. As many as 100 of the job cuts are rumoured to be from the UK's Client Solutions division, sources have claimed. The company confirmed today that some of the job losses will be in the UK, but said it was too early to comment on exact numbers. The company issued a statement from UK president and managing director, Trudy Norris Grey, saying that the restructuring was about ensuring Sun has "the right resources available in the right places". "Sun is driving cost structure improvements by taking action to resize the company for growth, better align our cost structure to our revenues and position the company to achieve its financial goals in FY06. "We anticipate that over the next five quarters, Sun will continue to rebalance and reskill its workforce, which you've seen us do over the past two years. Over the next year, we are looking at fewer than 1,000 jobs being impacted globally." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Aug 2005
Click here for the full BOFH range

The name's BOFH - James BOFH

Episode 23Episode 23 "What do you two know about business intelligence?" the Boss asks the PFY and I after we answer the call for a quick chat at his request... "A novel idea but I don't think it'll catch on," the PFY responds. "Sorry?" The boss burbles, missing the PFY's point. "Business & Intelligence - bit of a misnomer," the PFY replies helpfully. "No, I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about obtaining information about our competitors." "Oh, you mean spying," I reply. "Well not spying exactly, I just mean obtaining information from their systems." "Yes we call that spying. Corporate Espionage if you want to give it a flashy name." "Uh... Be that as it may," the boss chirps, tapping a pencil on his desk impatiently, "I'd like to know what you know about it." "Well you've come to the right place," I cry, "as my assistant here used to work for MI5." "No I didn't!" the PFY sighs dryly. "Well he's bound to say that isn't he?" I say, nodding knowingly at the boss, "it's all part of the training." "No it's not!" "Ah, so you do know what the training is then??" I ask, turning back to the Boss. "But seriously, he was. His code number was double-oh F." "00F?" "Yeah, they switched to Hexadecimal when the digits ran out." "Ridiculous!" the PFY snaps. "No, ridiculous was the first attempt using Dewey Decimal. By the time you'd finished warning them that you were 'secret agent double-oh 327.1PFY' they'd have already lowered you into the vat of acid and organised dinner for two followed by dancing with Moneypenny." "I... Look, I'm not talking about that!!" The Boss interrupts. "What I'm wanting to know is IF we happened to come by the laptop of a staff member of another company would you be able to access any information from it?" "And by IF you mean you already have?" "Uh... Well we had a couple of drinks to celebrate a successful end to some legal action between our two companies and he inadvertently left his laptop behind at the pub..." "And by access any information you actually mean find out the name and address of the owner so that you can return it to him?" "I..." "Because to do otherwise would be wrong." "And possibly illegal," the PFY adds. "Oh. I see." "Of course if, in the process of obtaining the name and address information we happened to encounter some information that pertained to some business activity..." "Yes?" "We'd be obliged to keep the confidence of the party concerned." "Oh," the Boss sighs unhappily. "Of course, I'm not much of a poker player and I might let slip something I'd seen if you were discussing something that I had knowledge of." "Not much of a poker player..." the boss repeats slowly. "Especially when he's been drinking," the PFY chips in. "So if we buy you drinks you'll break into the machine?" "By George, I think he's got it!!!" "Ok then. How do you plan to do it?" "I'm not - I'll get the PFY to do it - he can sniff a breast out of a hard drive at thirty paces." "I don't want porn, I want the business info!" "Yes, yes, but the PFY will break into the machine to get the porn and we can get the other stuff." "What if he hasn't got porn on his machine?" "Puleese. Even blind people look at porn. That's why they make the braille keyboards washable!" "I.. ... ..! Well I've never browsed porn!" the Boss gasps, offended. "Yuh-huh. Yeah, you and Ghandi - because he's dead." "I don't." "Really well just to be on the safe side, do you want the PFY to check your machine? Even deleted files! He can suck a thumbnail out of a two-month-old deleted zip file..." "I don't think that will be necessary," the boss counters hastily. "So what sort of software does he use?" "Software?!" the PFY asks "Oh! Yes... uh... software." "You don't use software?" "It's like a sixth sense" I explain to the Boss. "Someone a couple of rooms away visits www.DirtyNunHosemonsters.com and he's straight into the webcache to grab copies" "Really?!" "Oh yeah. But he's got some quality control problems. He can detect porn but he can't detect what kind of porn - which can be a little disturbing at times. For instance last week when one of our part timers discovered a fetish for geriatrics." "I'll never look at a rumpled mattress the same way again," the PFY whimpers. "He'll probably need counselling," I whisper to the Boss. "But meantime, that's not getting us into the box. Where is it?" "Uh.. here" the Boss says, removing the aforementioned machine from his briefcase guiltily. "Ooooh!" the PFY says. "I sense a stirring in the force!" "So long as it's just the force," I warn. "Can I..." the PFY asks, reaching for the machine eagerly. The Boss hands the machine over to the PFY and he takes off like a shot. "So how long do you think it will take?" the boss asks ten minutes later, tapping his foot anxiously. "Because sooner or later I'm going to get a call from the owner." "Well it's a complex thing, bypassing Windows security. I mean you'll have to boot from a CD..." "Yes, and then?" "That's pretty much it." "So he'll have got into the machine?" "I'm not too sur..." "Got it!" the PFY says, popping back into the room cheerfully with a pack of smokes in his hand. "Excellent! Are there any financial documents?" "Oh right, you wanted the work stuff!" he says, popping back out again... Something tells me it's going to be a long day... ® BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 Get BOFH Books here
Simon Travaglia, 12 Aug 2005

Amazon pays $40m in patent settlement

Amazon.com is coughing up $40m to settle a patent infringement case with Soverain Software covering ecommerce patents. Chicago-based Soverain filed the infringement claim in January, 2004, and at the time ecommerce mammoth Amazon insisted it would defend the suit vigorously. Yesterday, Amazon announced in an SEC filing that it had reached a settlement with Soverain, which included a $40m one-time payment, the dismissal of all claims and counterclaims, mutual releases and a non-exclusive license to Soverain’s patent portfolio. On its website, Soverain describes itself as a pioneer in e-commerce technology, and, on its page history refers to its “acquisition of Open Market's Transact software product and related intellectual property from divine in 2003.” According to previous Amazon filings, Soverain's original claims involved patents covering “Internet Server Access Control and Monitoring Systems” and “Network Sales Systems”. The suit was later extended to cover patents for “Digital Active Advertising” and “Open Network Payment System for Providing Real-Time Authorization of Payment and Purchase Transactions”.®
Team Register, 12 Aug 2005

NY enacts security breaches disclosure law

New York has enacted an information security breaches law which will oblige firms and local government agencies to notify customers in the state if their personal information is taken or its systems are hacked into. The legislation is designed to promote a culture of security. It also helps protect consumers by giving them the information they need to head off possible identity theft when sensitive details such as Social Security, driver's license and credit card numbers become exposed. Organisation with customers in New York are obliged to notify these people of a breach as soon as practically possible. The Information Security Breach and Notification Act in New York is broadly similar to security breaches laws enacted in California more than two years ago. Legislation requiring consumer notification of data security breaches has been approved in at least 15 states since then. Federal security disclosure laws are under consideration but opposed by some who fear it might dilute state laws, Red Herring reports. New York's decision to press ahead with its legislation follows a series of high profile consumer data security breaches involving US firms including data mining firm ChoicePoint, payment processing firm CardSystems Solutions and others. "The events of the last few months underscore the urgency of protecting consumers. If a person is not aware that he or she has been a victim of identity theft, then the damage done could be severe and irreversible. Prompt notification gives New Yorkers needed protections," said New York State Assembly member James Brennan, who sponsored the law. "In the last year, over 9,000 New Yorkers were exposed to identity theft because of inadequate security and poor notification procedures." ®
John Leyden, 12 Aug 2005

Shuttle flights are gone 'til November

No new Shuttle missions will blast off until November at the earliest, NASA has said, as it scrubbed a flight scheduled to depart in late September this year. The space agency is unwilling to risk new flights until it has nailed down the cause of the falling debris during the launch of the shuttle Discovery, the BBC reports. NASA spent more than two-and-a-half years trying to solve the problem of foam falling from external fuel tanks, after the disastrous loss of Columbia in March 2003. Since then, the agency has spent more than a billion dollars on various safety improvements, and had thought that it had solved the problem of falling debris. The chunk of foam that fell from Discovery was not much smaller than the piece that fatally wounded Columbia. Fortunately, it did not hit the shuttle as it fell. NASA says it cannot see an immediate or obvious solution to the problem. "It's an extremely difficult engineering problem to solve," NASA investigator Bill Gerstenmaier said, in a media teleconference. "Frankly, even the next time we fly the tank, I would expect to see a little bit of foam loss somewhere," he added. The next shuttle scheduled to launch was Atlantis, which had been pencilled in for a 22 September lift-off. Its mission would have been similar to Discovery's: to test new in-orbit inspection and repair systems, and to ferry equipment to the International Space Station. Get the latest from NASA about the Return to Flight project here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Aug 2005

Deadline set for C&W's Energis take-over

Cable & Wireless (C&W) has made a formal bid to buy-out alternative telco Energis, it confirmed today. But the offer is only valid until close of business on Monday and needs the backing of a substantial majority of those banks that own Energis. In a statement issued today C&W it "has made a proposal to acquire Energis [which] has been recommended unanimously by the board of Energis to Energis' stakeholders". But in a clear sign that C&W will not be drawn into a lengthy round of negotiations it added: "The acquisition proposal will not be increased in value under any circumstances and will fall away if 75 per cent by value of the holders of Energis' debt have not signed the acceptance by 5.00pm on Monday 15 August 2005. If 75 per cent so accept by that date, then the proposal will become a binding legal contract." The take-it-or-leave-it offer from C&W comes as The Times reportx today that Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley - which between them own 25 per cent of Energis debt - are refusing to back the £780m offer in an attempt to get C&W to up its offer. ®
Tim Richardson, 12 Aug 2005

iTunes to yield 5% of Apple's revenues in 2006

Apple will have sold 1.365bn songs through the iTunes Music Store by the end of 2006, investment house Piper Jaffray calculates. According to a note send by PJ analyst Gene Munster to investors this week, relayed to the rest of the world by iLounge.com, that's 55.6 per cent more than the company had previously forecast. The revenue realised will account for five per cent of Apple's sales next year, Munster writes. His reckoning works along the following lines: “Assuming 133m iTunes downloads in the June quarter and applying that across the reported 6.2m iPod shipments, Apple is averaging 6.1 iTunes downloads per iPod - based on the entire iPod estimated installed base through June 2005. If we apply this 6.1x ratio to our cumulative iPod installed base estimates through 2006, iTunes downloads for 2006 would be 1.365bn." The Register's back-of-an-envelope estimates based on the Apple's iTunes sales announcements to date suggest ITMS will sell just under 1.12bn songs during 2006 for a grand total of 2bn songs through to mid-January 2007. It should pass the billion-song mark February/March 2006, a few months after we previously forecast, but still an impressive growth rate. Our figures assume no sales from iTunes Japan, which is clearly ridiculous, even had the Japanese store not proved as successful as it has. We look forward to Apple's next iTunes sales announcement to adjust our model accordingly. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2005
channel

AMD Athlon X2 3800+ dual-core CPU

ReviewReview At the beginning of the month AMD launched its latest budget processor, the Sempron 3400+. Launched on the same day was the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 3800+. Right now you have the choice between single core or dual-core but before long dual-core will become very much the norm, writes Benny Har-Even.
Trusted Reviews, 12 Aug 2005

Court revives high-profile wiretap prosecution

A US federal appeals court has overturned a decision that implied service providers could legally snoop on subscriber's email messages in a ruling that revives a high-profile online eavesdropping prosecution. Two years ago a judge ruled it permissible for online literary clearinghouse Interloc to make copies of messages sent by subscribers of its free email service to Amazon.com. Interloc hoped to gain a commercial advantage by seeing what its users were ordering. Because these messages went through Interloc's servers a judge decided wiretap laws hadn't been violated and dismissed a prosecution against Bradford Councilman, a senior executive at the now defunct firm. The legal argument hinged on whether Interloc "intercepted" these messages. Councilman's lawyers successfully argued that no breach of the act had occurred because the emails were copied while held in storage. The first US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this decision to scratch the case in June 2004, prompting a government appeal. This week that appeal court overturned the initial ruling in a split 5-2 decision. The case is to be sent back to a district court for trial, AP reports. The Wiretap Act refers to the need to protect the privacy of messages in transit against unwarranted snooping. By majority opinion the appeal court judges ruled that wire tapping prohibitions apply to messages in temporary storage because this stage is integral to the communications process. In a dissenting opinion, Appeals Court Judge Juan Torruella said that that the privacy of subscribers ought to be protected by privacy agreements so that remedies lie in contract rather than wiretap laws. ®
John Leyden, 12 Aug 2005

Google Print put on pause

The irresistible force of Google Inc. has bumped into the immovable object of copyright, with the result that Google is calling a brief truce. Last night, the internet company said it would halt scanning in copyrighted book material as part of its Print project. Google has antagonized libraries and rights holders by opting them into its program. Concerns have also been expressed about libraries compromising their public interest mission by ceding control to Google, a private for-profit corporation. Google intends to make full text searches of the books available to users for free, but won't share revenue with the rights holders. Meanwhile the Print project could become a lucrative venture for the Google corporation itself, allowing it to take a revenue cut from purchase links and contextual text advertisements. So far, we've seen Google excercise the first, but not the second option. Google Print offers "Buy This Book" links to books it has scanned; we've yet to see advertisements for say, insecticide around Kafka's Metamorphosis. The Association of American Publishers, the Association of American University Presses and the Libraries' Association have all voiced objections. Earlier this year Google called a halt in Europe after vocifierous opposition from rights holders and the EU. Yesterday, Google said it would pause its scanners in the US, too. "We won't scan any in-copyright books from now until this November," wrote Google Print Product Manager Adam Smith. "We're going to continue talking about Google Print with our partners and the publishing industry." It's not going to assuage the rights holders, however. "Google's procedure shifts the responsibility for preventing infringement to the copyright owner rather than the user, turning every principle of copyright law on its ear," the AAP said in a statement. "I think the libraries are getting played badly here and they are violating their own principles of openness and public service by letting Google take charge and set the terms of this service," wrote author and journalist Siva Vaidhyanathan of New York University. "Google might be a very good corporation - one of the best ever, probably. But it's still not a library. Let's try to remember that," he added. The libraries and publishers' concerns are quite rational - it's wrong to tar librarians, who've devoted their lives to making information accessible - as copyright hoarders. As the UK Publishers' Association pointed out in February, books cost money and 87 per cent of their revenue must be generated through commercial arrangements. So as we've seen with digital music, this is a compensation issue, rather a copyright issue. The most convincing way Google can demonstrate good faith is to share the revenue. As even the most cloistered librarian has noticed, Google Inc. has quite a pile of that. Its market valuation reached $80bn earlier this year, larger than Time Warner Inc.®
Andrew Orlowski, 12 Aug 2005