30th > August > 2005 Archive

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Zotob suspects arrested in Turkey and Morocco

Law enforcement officials in Turkey and Morocco arrested two men in connection with the recent release of the Zotob worm, the FBI announced Local authorities arrested 18-year-old Farid Essebar in Morocco and 21-year-old Atilla Ekici in Turkey on Thursday, according to the FBI. The U.S. law enforcement agency believes that Essebar coded the Zotob worm and the Mytob bot software, on which the worm was based, for Ekici, who allegedly paid the programmer.
Robert Lemos, 30 Aug 2005
cloud

Spyware creator – and his customers – indicted

The creator and several buyers of a keylogging software package marketed as a means of checking up on loved ones, have been indicted in the US for accessing computer systems without authorisation, the Associated Press reports. Purchasers of the $89 “LoverSpy” software would send their target – a colleague, lover or child – a seemingly harmless electronic greeting card. When opened, the card added software to the targeted computer that would record email messages, chat room conversations, passwords and any other computer activity. Such software is prohibited in the US under federal wiretapping laws and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In the UK its use would be an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000, better known as RIPA. The firm behind LoverSpy was closed down in October 2003, but prosecutors have now obtained an indictment against the software’s creator, Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara, 25. His whereabouts remain unknown. He is charged with 35 counts of “manufacturing, sending and advertising a surreptitious interception device and unauthorised access to protected computers”, according to the Associated Press. Four purchasers of the software – John J Gannito, 49, Kevin Powell, 54, Cheryl Ann Young, 40, and Laura Selway, 34 – have also been charged by San Diego prosecutors, according to reports. As many as 1,000 copies of the software are reputed to have been sold by Perez-Melara and investigations are continuing. © Pinsent Masons 2000 - 2005
OUT-LAW.COM, 30 Aug 2005

Intelsat picks up PanAmSat for $3.2bn

Intelsat is to buy PanAmSat for $3.2bn, to form the world's largest satellite operator, providing television and telephony services from 53 satellites. Intelsat, which has 28 satellites, specialises in the provision of core telephony and advanced data services to developing regions around the world. It had revenues of $1bn in 2004, with net profits of $40m. PanAmSat has 25 satellites and specialises in providing video content to its customers, which include CNN, Dow Jones, BBC, AT&T, British Telecom and Telstra. It had annual revenues of approximately $800m in 2004. Intelsat is to pay $25 per share for PanAmSat, which is a 26 per cent premium on the $19.80 at which the company's stock price closed last Friday, and represents a 40 per cent increase on the price investors paid for the stock when the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange only six months ago. Bermuda-based Intelsat will also assume $3.2bn of PanAmSat's debt. "The combination of Intelsat and PanAmSat creates an industry leader with the ability to provide competitive communications and video services to consumers and businesses," said David McGlade, Chief Executive Officer of Intelsat, in a statement. "The two companies are complementary in customer, geographic and product focus." McGlade will continue to serve as chief executive of the combined company upon closing. Joseph Wright, currently chief executive of PanAmSat, is expected to become chairman upon completion of the transaction. The combined companies will have a joint fleet of 53 satellites and will have revenues of $1.9bn. Its next biggest competitor will be SES Global, which is based out of Luxembourg and operates 35 satellites, out of a total of 270 commercial satellites circling around the globe. The announcement comes only six weeks after PanAmSat, announced that it bought the EuropeStar satellite and multiple European orbital slots from the French telecommunications equipment giant, Alcatel. Copyright © 2005, ENN
ElectricNews.net, 30 Aug 2005

ATI predicts sales slide as margins collapse

ATI has slashed its Q4 revenue expectations, reversing an anticipated sequential gain into a decline, after its gross margin collapsed during the quarter. When it posted its Q3 FY2005 results in June, ATI forecast Q4 revenues of $550-580m. Yesterday, the graphics chip maker revised that figure to $465-480m, down 15.5-17.2 per cent. If ATI comes in within its anticipated range, Q4 sales will be 9.4-12.3 per cent down on the previous quarter, and 16.1-18.7 per cent down on Q4 FY2004. ATI said it expects gross margins to fall to a single-digit figure. During Q3, margins reached 29.1 per cent. The collapse is due to "an inventory writedown that is expected to be approximately $60-70m", ATI said. ATI said its desktop product line missed expectations both in units and average selling prices for the retail and add-in-board channels. All other product lines are expected to be in line with company expectations for both revenue and gross margin, it claimed. The big issue for ATI is buyer expectation: punters had anticipated the arrival of both the next-generation R520 chip and its SLi-like CrossFire technology, neither of which have yet materialised. "Operating expenses, excluding the costs associated with stock-based compensation, are expected to be in the range of $143-148m, which is in line with guidance," the company added. Two weeks ago a number of law firms announced class action lawsuits against ATI filed with the US District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania on behalf of shareholders who held stock between 7 October 2004 and 23 June 2005. The lawsuits allege ATI and its officers provided false statements which inflated the market price of the company’s stock - classic 'safe harbour' stuff, we'd say. ®
Tony Smith, 30 Aug 2005
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Parliament urged to restrain EPO's software patenting

The European Parliament should pass a resolution urging the European Patent Office to ensure that it complies with the existing rules on the patentability of computer-related inventions, according to leading campaigner Florian Mueller. Mueller, founder of Nosoftwarepatents.com, was prominent in the debate over Europe's proposed patent Directive earlier this year. In an guest column today on EUobserver.com, he argues that the Parliament should also call upon the European Commission to start a new legislative process on the controversial issue. At present, inventors can seek patents for computer-related inventions from the European Patent Office (EPO), under the 1973 European Patent Convention, or via national patent offices in EU member states under national law. In theory, the systems should be consistent: all should follow the Convention, which says that computer programs "as such" are not eligible for patenting. But different interpretations of that rule have evolved, with the European Patent Office in particular becoming rather liberal about its granting of software-related patents. In 2002, the Commission published a draft Directive that intended to harmonise the approaches of the various patent offices and only permit so-called computer-implemented inventions, not pure software. Its proposal provided that, in order to be patentable, an invention that is implemented through the execution of software on a computer or similar apparatus has to make a contribution in a technical field that is not obvious to a person of normal skill in that field. The Commission considered this consistent with the 1973 Convention. But the text was never agreed. Some feared that Europe would get a much more liberal regime, like that of the US. Others feared that they would lose the patent protection they already enjoyed. As a result, on 6th July this year, the proposal was killed by the European Parliament. The Commission has no plans to put forward a new draft in the near future. But this means that the inconsistent practice that caused the Commission to seek to clarify the law is still continuing. In his column Mueller argues that the Parliament should "call on the administrative council and the president of the European Patent Office to take the appropriate measures so that the existing law be complied with," and persuade the European Commission to start a new legislative process on the controversial issue. The objective of the resolution, he says, would be to influence the policy of the European Patent Office (EPO), and possibly to request a new proposal for a software patent directive from the European Commission along the lines of Parliamentary amendments made to the previous draft. A parliamentary resolution would not be legally binding upon the European Patent Office, but Mueller believes that it would carry a lot of political weight. According to his column, "lawmakers in EU member countries could pass national legislation in the spirit of the EP's suggestions," and the European Parliament's position would also influence the patent debate in other parts of the world. In particular he mentions a patent reform bill that is presently being discussed in the US Congress, and the as yet unclarified status of software patents in India, South America, South Africa, and other regions. “If Europe doesn't send a signal to the rest of the world, then the US government might just have its way," writes Mueller. The intellectual-property activist also comments on the Community Patent Directive, a proposed law on which the EU has failed to reach agreement for a number of years. The Community Patent is intended to give inventors the option of obtaining a single patent that would be legally valid throughout the European Union. The proposal aims to lessen the burden on businesses by making it cheaper to obtain a patent and by providing a clear legal framework in case of dispute. According to Mueller, "a Community Patent Directive could only achieve its stated goal of making Europe more competitive if it's part of, or a subsequent measure to, a fundamental paradigm shift in patent policy" – in effect higher standards and substantially lower numbers of patent grants. The European Patent Office currently receives around 180,000 new patent applications a year, about half of which result in the issuance of a patent, says Mueller. © Pinsent Masons 2000 - 2005
Team Register, 30 Aug 2005

Diamonds lose 'world's hardest' title

Diamonds have been usurped as the world's hardest material, thanks to researchers in Germany, who have made a new material by compressing carbon-60 molecules. They have dubbed their new form of carbon "aggregated diamond nanorods". The University of Bayreuth team, led by Natalia Dubrovinskaia, have patented their breakthrough, which they expect will have many applications in industry. A material's hardness is measured in terms of its 'isothermal bulk modulus' - that is to say, how a solid's volume changes as pressure is applied, at a constant temperature. Diamond has a modulus of 442 gigapascals, but the new material has a modulus of 491 gigapascals. The new material is created by subjecting carbon-60 to 200 times atmospheric pressure, while heating to 2500 Kelvin, the researchers say. This creates the aggregated diamond nanorods - so called because the material is made of interlocking diamond rods, each around one micron long, and having a diameter of between five and 20nm. The scientists, who are now looking for partners to commercialise their discovery, say more work is needed to determine exactly why this new material is so tough. The research was published in Applied Physics Letters. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Aug 2005

Powerline broadband on the up-and-up

Broadband over powerline (BPL) is hardly a new approach to bringing high speed access to inaccessible parts, whether these are villages or corners of the home or office. But it has suffered from low vendor interest and various technical hitches, until now, when it is finally taking its place alongside wireless technologies as a way to expand broadband access cost effectively.
Wireless Watch, 30 Aug 2005

Pipex WiMAX play to shake up UK market?

The UK market for broadband wireless services is set to become highly complex – and a possible proving ground for various technologies and business models – as the main holder of 3.5GHz spectrum, Pipex, shows its hand. Pipex holds the national license for 3.5GHz spectrum but, to date, has scarcely used the asset, leaving the PCCW-owned UK Broadband the only significant player in licensed broadband wireless services with its nationwide 3.4GHz holdings. With UK Broadband slowing down its initially aggressive roll-out plans using its IPWireless kit (based on UMTS TDD technology), the UK has seemed ripe for shake-up, especially with spectrum trading soon to be permitted for the first time, and incumbent British Telecom expressing strong interest in WiMAX. It had therefore been speculated that Pipex would seek to sell on its spectrum, but now the UK’s seventh largest ISP has announced its own WiMAX trials, in partnership with Airspan. UK competition This could indicate that, like some major US ISPs like EarthLink, Pipex will look to expand its customer base and add portable services to its bundles through wireless delivery (mobility is unlikely to be an option in the near term, since UK regulator Ofcom has so far proved hostile to allowing this in the 3GHz bands, and faces heavy lobbying from UK cellco giant Vodafone to maintain this stance). This could make the UK market less attractive for UK Broadband, which may seek to sell on its licenses, possibly – if Ofcom permits it – to BT. This, in turn, could create a two-horse race in licensed spectrum for WiMAX-type services for business and high end residential customers, which would also be joined by some of the players using unlicensed 5GHz spectrum, such as Telebria, which has just announced new funding, and Libera. The market could be further complicated when Ofcom opens up additional broadband wireless spectrum from 2006, and especially if it decides to allow non-3G technologies into the 2.5GHz band, previously earmarked, when it is opened up next year, for 3G expansion only. Pipex, set up in 1991, was the UK’s first commercial ISP and now mainly serves business customers with 100 points of presence (including 20 point-to-multipoint broadband wireless PoPs). As a wireless ISP, it has the advantage of readymade backhaul arrangements and established reputation for corporate class service levels. The question is whether it will stick to its business market – also targeted by Libera – with wireless or use the lower cost infrastructure to relaunch its efforts in the consumer space. Fixed broadband wireless is in the early stages in the UK. Like most European countries, it experienced a bubble of interest when 3.5GHz licenses were awarded at the end of the last century, but few real services ensued. According to the Department of Trade and Industry, coverage is limited to only a few regions, with 45 per cent of the residential coverage in London and the South East, and 30 per cent in the Midlands. Regulator Ofcom estimates that there are 5,000 subscribers in licensed bands and a further 2,000 to unlicensed services (there are also 6,000 two-way satellite internet subscribers). As in other countries, providers are divided between addressing underserved rural areas – as Telabria and Langreen are doing, as well as BT with its Alvarion-based pilots in remote areas of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and targeting businesses with lower cost alternative to T1 leased lines. This has been the approach of Libera, which aims to cover 75 per cent of UK businesses by the end of next year and recently launched in London. Both business models can be served by unlicensed equipment – rural areas because there is little congestion or interference; businesses because operators can afford to set up base stations on high buildings to gain line of sight. For urban or suburban consumers, though, licensed bands will probably be essential because of the interference risks and the need for line of sight in 5GHz. Hence the increasing value of the 3.4-3.5GHz bands, whether Pipex and UK Broadband choose to keep or sell them, and the likelihood that Pipex might seek to use wireless to re-enter the residential sector. Pipex strategy In its 2004 annual report, Pipex indicated its reawakened interest in the 3.5Ghz-4.2GHz spectrum it acquired in 2003 along with Firstnet Services, one of the broadband wireless operators that rode the wave of the 1999-2000 boom and then failed. It points out that this band is newly interesting because of the potential of the WiMAX technology and, as part of a duty to finalize the fair value of the license in 2004, estimated this at £5m. In the provisional acquisition balance sheet of Firstnet prepared for the purposes of the 2003 financial statements this license had no carrying value attributed to it. “In assessing the value of this asset at the acquisition date the Company has taken account of the significant progress, particularly in terms of specifying WiMAX global standards, that has been achieved in the post acquisition period and of the uncertainties present in the exploitation of new technology,” says the report. “The value now attributed to the licence at the date of acquisition is £5m and this has reduced the goodwill arising in Firstnet by the same amount. The licence value is being amortized over 20 years.” The Airspan technical trial will last until February and will be focused on a base station at the equipment maker’s testing facility in Stratford-on-Avon in the Midlands, and a demonstration house about 1.2 kilometers away without line of sight, fitted with Airspan’s EasyST indoor WiMAX-ready modem. The equipment will work in the 3.6-3.7GHz band. The aim is to see whether a DSL-like experience can be achieved with WiMAX, and success will lead to commercial trials. Future trial phases will assess the performance of other WiMAX CPE types, including laptop cards and handheld devices for both fixed and nomadic applications. All this reinforces the idea that Pipex is mulling a consumer service. Another motivator is voice over IP, which will also be tested in the trial. Pipex CEO Mike Read said: "WiMAX is an exciting new opportunity for Pipex and this test will help determine how we offer wireless broadband services to our customers using our licensed spectrum. Combined voice and data offerings using WiMAX will enable PIPEX to deliver differentiated products in addition to our existing services.” Copyright © 2005, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.
Wireless Watch, 30 Aug 2005
cable

Ireland unveils supercomputing centre

A new 'supercomputing' centre aims to address the growing need among Ireland's researchers for computational resources The Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC), which will be based in Dublin, is set to begin operations on 1 September, thanks to a €2.6m Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) grant. The centre also received a €0.7 million equipment loan from the HEA PRTLI-funded CosmoGrid programme and an equipment loan of €1.2 million from Trinity College Dublin's HEA PRTLI-funded IITAC programme. Eight third level educational institutions are involved in the centre - NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), UCD, UCC, NUI Maynooth, Dublin City University and the Tyndall Institute. High End Computing, also known as "supercomputing," uses the most advanced aspects of modern computer science to produce supercomputers capable of many trillions of calculations per second. Supercomputers are typically used for calculation-intensive tasks such as climate research, molecular modelling, physical simulations and cryptanalysis. The ICHEC will help Irish researchers in their work in disciplines such as medical device simulation, marine modelling, bio-informatics, drug discovery, astrophysics and computational chemistry. "This centre will transform computational science in Ireland, creating facilities which will be on a par with those in the rest of Europe," said Dr Andrew Shearer of NUI Galway's Department of Information Technology and the Director of ICHEC. "Computational science is one of the few areas where Ireland can contribute to 'big' science projects. Previously Ireland's lack of supercomputing facilities meant that the country was overlooked for international science projects, according to Dr Shearer, who said that the ICHEC will help Ireland to be more competitive and continue to attract high-tech industries to the country. As well as benefiting Irish researchers and the economy, ICHEC is expected to become a major powerhouse in the knowledge economy, benefiting universities, SMEs - through its technology transfer work - and multinationals. In addition the centre will have an industrial outreach programme to work with researchers in industries that would typically not have an interest in supercomputing. Furthermore, another programme will be developed to encourage second level students to become more interested in computer science. The ultimate aim of the centre is to make Ireland a leader in supercomputing on a per capita basis by 2010. Copyright © 2005, ENN
ElectricNews.net, 30 Aug 2005

Reading council in audacious recycling initiative

The problem of what to do with clapped-out electronic equipment continues to tax the EU's best minds. The alternatives are straightforward enough: you can take it to be lovingly dismantled and recycled; or you can simply bury it. The former, while highly desirable, is expensive; the latter, an ultimately unsustainable option as vast tracts of countryside are converted into poisoned dumping grounds. There is, happily, a compromise alternative which uses existing facilities and infrastructure to dispose of unwanted kit without placing a further burden on the environment, or the taxpayer. Reader Ian Baker explains the audacious Reading Borough Council scheme: So, it's a Bank Holiday. It'll undoubtedly rain on Monday, and I've finally run out of excuse not to take the dead 19" IBM monitor down the dump. Bearing in mind how erattic such services can be, I thought that I'd Google to try and find out the opening times. Up comes google.co.uk, search string "reading borough recycling opening hours" (seemed like a good first hit). Just click "I'm feeling lucky", and you'll see what I mean. Who says landfill is dead? That's right - if you need to dispose of unwanted computer kit in the Reading area, rest assured that it will be well taken care of. You can even pop in 365 days a year to lay flowers beside the final resting place of that faithful 19" monitor. Requiem en pacem. ®
Lester Haines, 30 Aug 2005

Oracle ready to save the mobile industry by reducing costs

Brandishing its newly-discovered motto: "We're customer-centric", giant software company Oracle is making an all-out bid to take over the running of the world's mobile phone operators, by pulling all their multiple applications into a single stack. The company called a press conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, to announce its support for the European Commission's i2010 strategy. "Oracle welcomes this phase, and actively encourages companies and telecommunications providers to establish a single European Information Space for an open, competitive and content rich market for electronic communications, media, and content," said Sergio Giacoletto, exec VP of the EMEA region. The impressive phrases aren't all hot air. The bit that probably is hot air, is the "customer-centric" tag - which was not one which commentators felt any need to take seriously, and as Ovum consultant Dave Mitchell put it: "Until they can measure the performance of their consultants and reward them for customer-centric behaviour, Oracle managers can be sure there won't be any behaviour like that - and they have yet to show any evidence of doing any such measurement or incentivising." But the claim to be able to provide support for all aspects of mobile operator software operations is probably well founded. "When it comes to moving to a customer-centred view of the network, mobile operators we have talked to for our report on the mobile industry in 2010 all agree that they will have to become ICT 'consultants' by then," commented Pim Bilderbeek of IDG. He supports Oracle's claim that all an operator's IT functions had to become integrated, without "stovepipes" or separate vertical operations. He singled out TeliaSonera as "the first New Telco" capable of moving into this new age - TeliaSonera being a major Oracle software user. Oracle also wheeled out another operator, Rudy Verlinden of Telenet NV in Belgium, who preached the same gospel, claiming that it had transformed his operation by building an integrated telecom solution between Field Service and Project Accounting. "New products can be conceived and implemented in an afternoon, literally," said Bilderbeek, "once you have an integrated platform. Otherwise it can take seven to seventeen months to put all the support services in place to roll a competitive idea out." © NewsWireless.Net
Guy Kewney, 30 Aug 2005

Apple books Freescale

Apple has contracted chip maker Freescale to supply it with microprocessors through to the end of 2008. Freescale - the spun-off Motorola chip division - already provides Apple with G4-class PowerPC chips for the Mac Mini, eMac, iBook and PowerBook lines. Apple, of course, has already signalled its intention to migrate to x86 processors, but it's going to be shipping PowerPC-based systems through 2005 at the very least, and possibly well into 2006. Some observers have suggested the deal with Freescale, revealed in a document Apple this week filed with with US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), suggests a longer transition time than previously expected, but it's telling that while Freescale is committed to providing Apple with processors, the Mac maker is not committed to ordering any. In short, it's about guaranteeing supply through an inevitably confusing transition period. Apple currently uses Freescale's MPC7447A chip, but is expected to upgrade to the 7448, a 90nm version of the older part supporting higher bus and core clock frequencies - up to 1.7GHz, in point of fact - and providing double the L2 cache of the earlier chip: 1MB in total. ®
Tony Smith, 30 Aug 2005
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IT contractors 'neglect insurance'

Nearly two-thirds of IT contractors believe they do not need any insurance cover, according to a new study.
Startups.co.uk, 30 Aug 2005

UK.gov to ban violent porn

UK ministers are considering plans to make downloading violent sexual images from the net a criminal offence. Distributing footage depicting rapes or other so-called extreme pornography is illegal (under the Obscene Publications Act 1959) but current laws do not allow prosecution for simple possession. This contrasts with laws on the possession of images of child abuse. A new offence of possessing violent and abusive pornography, punishable by up to three years imprisonment, is under consideration Home Officer Minister Paul Goggins told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. He said such images were abhorrent and had no place in society. "These forms of violent and abusive pornography go far beyond what we allow to be shown in films or even sold in licensed sex shops in the UK, so they should not be available online either," Goggins said, adding that accidental viewing of violent material would be a defence against prosecution. The minister added that there was a responsibility to "reduce demand" for violent smut so as to protect both the public and those abused but did not elaborate on what steps might be taken by the government on this front. The Home Office has launched a consultation on its proposals to make possession of violent pornography an offence. The consultation will run for over three months until 2 December. Plans for legislation were welcomed by the the family of Jane Longhurst, who was murdered by a man addicted to watching violent porn. Longhurst was murdered two years ago by a friend's boyfriend, Graham Coutts, after he spent hours watching footage of women being strangled and raped. Police said new laws might assist investigations. But a representative from a pressure group called Internet Freedom questioned the supposed link between viewing violent images and acts of violence. Other countries are also considering actions geared to clamping down into the traffic of pornography over the net. The Finnish government has given the country's ISPs a list of proscribed child abuse websites to block. Meanwhile in Malaysia police have been urged to "randomly check" mobile phones for pornographic images. According to reports, teenagers in the country are using their mobiles to film "mass sex parties" and circulating images of these Bacchanalian orgies to each other in defiance of the Muslim country's strict censorship laws. ®
John Leyden, 30 Aug 2005
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ATI preps 'five' AMD Socket M2 chipsets

ATI will next year launch five chipsets targeting AMD's upcoming M2 interconnect, if Taiwanese sources are to be believed. M2 is expected to debut Q2 2006, according to AMD roadmaps, in versions of the dual-core Athlon X2 and the single-core Athlon 64 FX, codenamed 'Windsor' and 'Orleans', respectively. M2 is a 940-pin interconnect. According to Taiwanese moles cited by DigiTimes, ATI will offer the RX485 and RS485, M2-equipped version of its existing RX480 and RS480 parts. Production has apparently been scheduled for the end of this year, suggesting either M2 will appear sooner than expected, or the chipset is simply being upgraded to support the new as well as the current CPU socket. The same timeframe will see the debut of RD580 and RD580C, the latter supporting ATI's CrossFire multi-GPU sub-system. Both chipsets are high-end parts. Come Q2 2006, ATI will ship RS690, a more advanced version of the RS485 with an improved integrated graphics core, the sources claim ATI's roadmap indicates. But like we say, with M2 not expected until Q2, ATI's launch schedule may well be knocked back accordingly. All five chipsets will apparently be fabbed by TSMC. Chinese-language newspaper the Commercial Times today claimed UMC will begin punching out 90nm chips for ATI in Q4 this year. ®
Tony Smith, 30 Aug 2005

Infineon chips in with Xbox 360 security part

Infineon will provide memory chips and a wireless controller for Microsoft's Xbox 360 console, the two companies both said yesterday, but it's the "advanced security chip" it will also produce that will cause more controversy. Infineon said the security chip was "a custom implementation of Infineon’s proven authentication technology". That comment is likely to refer to its Trusted Platform Module (TPM) - the chip which, incidentally, was located within Apple's developer-oriented Intel-based Power Macs and suggested as the foundation for Apple's scheme to stop PC owners installing Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware. Microsoft may be looking to Infineon's TPM technology to provide comparable protection for the 360. Infineon's TPM 1.2 chip supports the Trusted Computing Group's trusted platform 1.2 specification, but it also delivers a variety of security features, including ACE with RSA support for 2048-bit keys, hardware acceleration for SHA-1 hashing, true random number generation - useful, we'd suggest, for gameplay as much as it is for security - and support for Intel's upcoming LaGrande Technology, though that's less useful for the PowerPC-based 360. How many of these features make it to the custom 360 TPM chip remains to be seen - certainly neither Infineon nor Microsoft provided any guidance on functionality. Nor would they say anything about the financial side of the agreement. The Xbox 360 is set to ship in the US in October for $300-400, followed by a European launch in November priced at £210-280/€300-400. ®
Tony Smith, 30 Aug 2005

Whining American eBays 'devil doll'

Those readers who think that Hurricane Katrina is just about the worst thing that can happen to an honest, God-fearing American would do well to consider that your house blowing down is as nothing compared to the terrible calamity which has befallen the owner of the "Julie" devil doll - a porcelain manifestation of pure evil now available on eBay to anyone with the courage to face the truly apocalyptic consequences of making a successful bid. We kid you not. Here's the background: You are bidding on a "Doll by Julie". Doll appears to be in excellent condition and is made from porcelain. However, since we "discovered" her in our basement while preparing to see our house in Kansas, we have had NOTHING but bad luck. Yup, you've guessed it: devil doll appears from nowhere, resists all attempts at disposal and gradually subjects target family to a spine-tingling litany of terror. Here are a few extracts, which, we should caution, are not for the faint-hearted: In June 2003, we were prepping our house for sale by getting rid of unnecessary clutter. I came across this doll that was not bought by anyone in our house, nor was it received as a gift. I thought nothing of it and put it in a large pile for items to donate. Our houses have always been by the true word spotless, and we have always won the blue ribbon awards when selling our homes. This house FINALLY sold on July 2004 when houses all around us that were slightly more expensive sold that were filled with clutter and were dirty. Previously, all our homes sold in less than 90 days, even in the bad times of the early 90's! Spooky, but there's more: Since we have a family of six, and were supposed to be transferred to Europe, we moved into an apartment. Finding a three bedroom apartment in KS, which is required for six people, was almost impossible. It looked like our luck was changing as we found a three year old unit less than 2 miles from our house!... My wife went to clean the apartment to make it spotless (no one bothered to ever clean under the refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher so it was DISGUSTING) and noticed the air was not working. She returned back to the house dizzy, thinking it was a result of the hot Kansas weather. Once cleaned, I was tasked to move the items and get the air conditioner working... Three days later, the family came over. In less than two days, my wife and youngest son stopped breathing due to lovely TOXIC mold in the air conditioning unit. MOLD is the WORST natural disaster possible, as they ONLY way to get rid of mold was to Lysol and bleach everything as the mold spores WILL stay with all of your belongings. A tornado would have been much better than this... Working for a large company did not help either. My boss was on army leave and human resources NEVER returned my phone calls. Desperate for options, I moved my family in with the in-laws in Apopka FL in July 2004, having to leave most of our possessions in KS, including a new refrigerator, desk, and Laserjet 5SI. I figured I could at least still telecommute while I addressed my family's needs from being affected by toxic mold. They now have permanent damage and require an inhaler from time to time. This was just in time for FOUR hurricanes to hit Florida, THREE which affected Apopka directly (right by Orlando), where there has NOT been a hurricane of that magnitude there ever, and the last bad one was in the 60's. So, we can conclude that Julie has not only the power to smite through TOXIC mold, but also the ability to control the elements and conjure terrible storms. It doesn't end there, but you'll just have to make a nice cup of tea and put your feet up to work through the comprehensive tale of woe. It actually ends thus, after further doll-inspired calamities including the vendor losing his job, an abortive attempt to relocate to Blighty, and a second killer mold incident: It gets worse - still no jobs for a person with strong Accounting, Finance, Insurance, IT Skills, Certified, working on a Masters, etc..... Since we have been here, my laptop broke (as you can see I am parting out the good pieces from other auctions), my wife tripped and ran the chair into the LCD monitor which now has a nice scratch on it. My father has lost 60 pounds - 200 down to 140 over the last 5 months and they are testing him for cancer. My mother-in-law has a brain tumor. My wife and son still have asthma attacks. I cannot sue in KS the apartment complex as mold laws are not defined an I cannot even get a Kansas lawyer to take my case. My savings are being depleted fast...I need this doll gone. To summarise: anyone with a penchant for apocalypse can bid right now for the Julie devil doll of Aurora, Illinois. We can't find much to recommend it, but buyers should note that it does come from a "non-smoking/pet-free home", which is a definite plus, even if it is certainly contaminated with fatal levels of toxic mold spores. ®
Lester Haines, 30 Aug 2005

Job cuts loom for Legend

Staff at Lancaster-based ISP Legend Communications have to decide by today whether to accept voluntary redundancy. Letters were sent to all workers last week offering them the chance to bail out of the company. But the letter warned that if enough people did not accept the voluntary offer then the ISP would be forced to make compulsory job cuts. At this stage it's not known how many people face the chop. In an email to staff the company said "no decisions regarding our level of overheads have been made, as this is a process that will require considerable strategic thinking." It went on: "The most important thing to note is that any recommendations made relating to the structure of the company moving forward will be with a view to help it be a more competitive and enjoyable place to work as well as one that is successful in the long term." A week ago Legend - which until recently was known as Business Serve - issued a trading statement to the London Stock Exchange warning that its broadband business was being squeezed and that it had been hit by "two bad debts" amounting to some £200,000. Said the company: "Although trading at the beginning of the financial year was in line with management expectations the last few weeks have proved to be particularly challenging. The downturn in trading is attributable to continuing margin pressure on the ADSL business line and an unexpected decrease in customer renewal rates. "Over the last few weeks it has become apparent to the board that this trading trend could well continue. "Whilst the board is confident that the business will be profitable in the current year it is undertaking a review of the company's full year figures, including a review of the level of the company's overhead." No one from Legend was available for comment at the time of writing. ®
Tim Richardson, 30 Aug 2005

Rio owner quits MP3 player market

Rio owner D&M Holdings is to quit the mass-market portable music player market, the company said on Friday. The announcement comes as no surprise given that it sold its Rio division's technology and people assets to SigmaTel in July. At the time, D&M said it was still "examining additional strategic options for Rio", but reports last week revealed that none of them stand up to scrutiny. Japan-based D&M, which also owns the Denon and Marantz hi-fi brands, has been trying to stem losses at Rio for some time. Rio - originally part of Diamond Multimedia - was a pioneer in digital music hardware. But its Flash-based products were quickly out-evolved by hard disk-based units from a number of rivals, most notably Apple. Being passed from corporate owner to corporate owner to corporate owner didn't help either. Diamond Multimedia merged with S3 Graphics in 1999. S3 sold off the graphics chip business to Taiwan's VIA, effectively becoming Diamond Multimedia again in all but name. In 2000, it named itself SonicBlue and went on to acquire TiVo rival ReplayTV. It was eventually sued by the TV industry for incorporating ad-zapping technology, which ultimately led, in 2003, to a Chapter 11 filing. Rio and ReplayTV were sold to Digital Networks America, part of D&M, in April of that year. The Rio product line was revitalised under Digital Networks, but despite winning reviewer plaudits, it failed to win significant customer numbers - it had simply lost too much brand equity to the iPod, iRiver and Creative's Zen line. During its most recently completed financial quarter, Q1 FY2005, which ended 30 June 2005, D&M reported an operating loss ¥1.04bn ($9.41m), to which the Rio division contributed an operating loss of ¥0.96bn ($8.68m) - more than 92 per cent of the total. D&M reported a net loss of ¥717m ($6.48m) for the quarter. There's still hope for the brand, perhaps. D&M said it was retaining the Rio name, and has a licence to use the MP3 technology now sold to SigmaTel. However, if the name is to be revived, it will almost certainly be pitched at the high end, as are D&M's other brands - now joined by speaker maker Boston Acoustics. ®
Tony Smith, 30 Aug 2005
fingers pointing at man

Ingram Micro Europe talks up mobility campaign

Ingram Micro Europe has set up a business team to drive sales of mobile phones and other wireless products. Team members are Mark Moons, who joins the distie giant from Dangaard Telecom, and Remco van der Panne, an internal appointment. They will work with in-country marketing bods and vendor partners to work up tasty bundles and marketing campaigns. Ingram aims to build up a complete "Out of Office" portfolio and notes that it already holds franchises for Sony-Ericsson, HP, Palm, and Tom Tom and others. It also has operator contracts with Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange, KPN and Amena. Next quarter, Ingram will run the next edition of the "Speed Up Your Mobile Business" campaign, last run two years ago. ®
Team Register, 30 Aug 2005

eBay in bare-knuckle gypsy fight kerfuffle

The Belfast Telegraph and Sinn Fein are leading a campaign to KO eBay auctions of DVD bare-knuckle gypsy-on-gypsy fight action. The newspaper has already provoked eBay.co.uk to pull two auctions for such material, although there is plenty of raw footage still available to eager punters, such as this sale (soon to be counted out, we have no doubt), which declares: This is Real Bare Knuckle Gypsy Fights on DVD! Over two hours of Gypsys punching the hell out of each other and shouting stuff that you wont be able to understand! Filmed in England, Ireland and Scotland in country lanes, warehouses and front gardens! This is real footage all caught on camcorder, so dont expect hollywood quality. Just like the film Snatch, only this is for real! A 100% Genuine Gypsy production comes on a disc like the one pictured below. No sleave, bare disc of Bare Knuckle Fights! After getting the Belfast Telegraph tip about two similar promotions, an eBay spokesperson told the paper: "These items contravene eBay listings policy and our customer service teams ended the auctions as soon as the Belfast Telegraph alerted us to them." For its part, Sinn Fein has condemned the DVDs as "racist incitement to hatred". The organisation's spokesperson on human rights (yes, you read that right), Catriona Ruane, said "members of the Travelling community were not the only people to be exploited in this way", citing the example of the scandalous US Bumfights, where you can see "real bums trade blows on the streets, chick fights, bum stunts, sick pranks, crime caught on tape, crackheads, street fights, supermodel Angela Taylor, and hands down the rawest, most core ruckus ever filmed". What, no "supermodel Naomi Campbell battering her PA with a PDA"? That's a real shame, although not according to Ruane who rather marvellously continues: "We [Sinn Fein] are against the exploitation of violence in any way." There is, nonetheless, a legitimate legal point to be made here. A Traveller's support group in Belfast said it "did not condone the sale and was concerned that eBay could effectively be profiting from an illegal event". Which is true, 'cos bare-knuckle boxing is illegal in the UK, unless you're John "Slugger" Prescott, in which case you can punch away with impunity and the TV can run the footage to its heart's content. Stateside, meanwhile, the ne'er-do-wells behind Bumfights earned themselves some jailtime back in February after failing to do 280 hours of community service work after they pleaded guilty in June 2003 to misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to stage an illegal fight. And regular readers will, naturally, recall the shocking case of Sharon Pikey and Lisa Greyhound, bare-knuckle boxeresses as exposed by an El Reg hack and avidly investigated by CNN. ®
Lester Haines, 30 Aug 2005
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Censorware software fails to cut it

Parental control software is only partially effective and needs to be supplemented by parental supervision of their children's online activities, according to a study by Computing Which?, the consumer magazine. Computing Which? tested six popular child safety (AKA censorware) packages - Net Nanny 5.1, AOL 9.0, Cyber Patrol 7, McAfee Internet Security Suite, MSN Premium, Norton Internet Security 2005 and Mac OS X Tiger - and found most were too difficult for parents to understand and manage. Only Apple's Tiger operating system scored top marks for ease of use. Dedicated parental control packages ought to be simplified, noted Which? testers, who also identified problems with questionable classification of blocked and allowed web sites. MSN Premium and Norton Internet Security 2005 fared badly across a set of tests earning a rating of just 35 per cent. Parental control software is designed to prevent kids from accessing sites containing pornographic, racism or other otherwise objectionable content. The market segment has grown in size over recent months fueled in large part by parental fears about the internet arising from cases where children have been "groomed" online by perverts prior to abuse. Computing Which? has the following top tips for protecting children online: Keep PCs in a shared living area — not a child's bedroom Supervise children's online activities Encourage children to discuss any unsavory content they've found Warn children about the potential dangers of chatrooms Use parental control software but don't over rely on it Change your parental control access password regularly ®
John Leyden, 30 Aug 2005
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Dixons buys Equanet

Dixons Stores Group has bought Equanet, one of the UK's bigger independent resellers, for an undisclosed sum. No jobs cuts are expected, reports CRN, the UK channel magazine. DSG is already one of the UK's biggest resellers in the SME business market, through its PC World Business division. Equanet, which will become a part of PCWB, will take the company deeper into corporate reselling territory. CRN has more here. ®
Team Register, 30 Aug 2005
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The many benefits of SSO

Quocirca’s changing channelsQuocirca’s changing channels Single sign-on (SSO) can benefit the ease of use and security of IT in any organisation that expects its employees to use multiple applications, often from multiple locations. Until recently, it was mostly enterprises that have made use of SSO, but a new appliance, launched in Europe this year makes it practical for the mid-market and is an opportunity for resellers. It is often said that IT helpdesks spend more time fixing passwords than carrying out any other single task. The way to reduce this problem is to implement SSO giving users access to all the applications they need, only having to authenticate themselves once. One-off user identification can be made to be more rigorous than would be practical if it was done separately for each individual application through the use of additional authentication requirements such as biometrics, proximity cards or tokens in addition to usernames and passwords. SSO systems need to be able to interface to various applications on different platforms, handle multiple groups of users with wide-ranging access requirements, distinguish between mobile and office-based workers and interface the strong authentication devices that provide the additional security. There is nothing new about SSO itself; IBM provides the capability as part of its Tivoli suite, but this is aimed at enterprises. Computer Associates’ eTrust Single Sign-On and Novell’s Nsure SecureLogin are software based solutions that are more suitably configured and priced for the mid-market. There also solutions from strong authentication specialists like RSA Security and ActivCard. But all these are going to be given a run for their money by the new appliance from a vendor called Imprivata. Imprivata’s OneSign is competitively priced for the mid-market, especially considering that being an appliance it has no additional hardware requirements. In fact, it always ships two appliances as a part of the deal so a hot stand-by can always be available should the primary device fail. Imprivata says the OneSign is easy to deploy, can be easily linked to LDAP compliant directories such as Microsoft’s Active Directory and be front-ended by any strong authentication system. And Imprivata has another trick up its sleeve - an Application Profile Generator – a tool that can examine any application – packaged, home-grown or legacy – and create a profile of it to map individual or groups of users to. This is an easy to use drag and drop tool which does not require any scripting or and is designed to be used by a non-IT expert. OneSign learns as it goes along. Once the system is up and running the user’s login information is learnt as and when they access applications. Imprivata is a US-based company backed by venture capital. It shipped the first OneSign appliance in May 2004 and launched in Europe earlier this year. The European operation is tiny at present, but as it only plans to sell and support via resellers, it does not need a huge local infrastructure. Imprivata has already signed up five or six resellers in the UK and 10 or so in the rest of Europe. If you are looking to help your customers improve security and reduce the time wasted by IT helping forgetful employees to access applications, this new appliance is worth taking a look at. © Quocirca Please feel free to let Quocirca know your views on Imprivata’s OneSign and if it represents an opportunity for your organisation; email qcc@quocirca.com Bob Tarzey is a service director at Quocirca focussed on the route to market for IT products and services in Europe. Quocirca is a UK based perceptional research and analysis firm with a focus on the European market.
Bob Tarzey, 30 Aug 2005
fingers pointing at man

UK Gov must meet biometric standards on ID cards

Any national identity card introduced in the UK will have to meet new international standards for biometrics. The standards body, BSI, has published a set of four new BS ISO/IEC 19794 standards, covering the science of biometrics, using biological characteristics to identify individuals, according to reports. The standards will apply to the biometric technology that is to be added to British passports, and will also cover any future ID card, the BSI says. They will also cover access control and identification systems, such as the information that might be stored on a smartcard. The aim is to ensure interoperability between the various products that will inevitably come to market, so that data collected by a machine from one vendor can be read by a machine from another, and so on. The BSI also says the standards are designed to protect against inaccuracies in ID data. The BSI began work on the standards in June 2004. It said then that the need for the standards was only partly politically driven, but acknowledged that the initial market would be mainly governmental and public sector. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Aug 2005

NZ to get next generation phone network

Telecom - New Zealand's incumbent telco - is to blow US$220m on a new digital phone network. The first residential phone users are due to be migrated to New Zealand's next generation network by early 2007 with all 2.2m punters shunted across by 2012, the company announced today. By replacing Telecom's existing traditional phone infrastructure with an IP network, the company claims it has the potential to reduce costs for customers. The work is part of a broader US$1.4bn project to build a new network capable of giving users access to voice, data and video services. Announcing Telecom's decision to team up with Alcatel for the project, the telco's COO Simon Moutter said: "This is really fundamental for the future of telecommunications in New Zealand. IP Voice technology is critical to achieving the goal of integrated and converged services." In June, New Zealand's telecoms network was crippled leaving thousands of punters without phone or internet access. Rats were blamed for severing a fibre on a bridge in the Rimutaka area on New Zealand's North Island. While the telco could cope with that incident it was unable to keep services running after a contractor severed another cable shortly after while drilling a post hole. ®
Tim Richardson, 30 Aug 2005
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Stolen Windows source code fence pleads guilty

A Connecticut man faces up to 10 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to selling illicit copies of Windows source code. William P. Genovese, 28, of Meridan in Connecticut, this week confessed to unlawfully distributing stolen Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 source code over the net, CNN reports. He was caught last year after an unnamed security firm hired by Microsoft and an undercover FBI agent both made sample purchases through a site run by Genovese called illmob.org. Genovese is charged with a single charge of unlawfully distributing a trade secret, an offence which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail as well as fines of up to $250K or twice the profit from a criminal racket, whichever is greater. Since Genovese was selling the Windows source code for only $20 a pop it's unlikely he made much money. Genovese previously said he'd only been singled out for punishment because the software giant and law enforcement officials had failed to locate people who stole the code in the first place. He claimed he was only doing what many other geeks were doing when the code spilled into the open in February 2004 and that the nominal fee he charged was only a "joke". According to court papers (PDF), Genovese (AKA illwill) was previously sentenced to two years probation following a conviction for eavesdropping in March 2003. The eavesdropping charges arose from Genovese's use of keylogging software to spy on victims' net activities in 2000. ®
John Leyden, 30 Aug 2005

EU invests in stem cells for the real world

The EU has committed $32m of funding to a research consortium that aims to commercialise stem cell tissue engineering technologies over the next four years, according to reports. The project, named Systems Approach to Tissue Engineering Products and Processes (Steps), will build on a solid foundation of research to learn how to build specific tissues - such as skin, bone or cartilage - in quantities that would make them useful to patients. It will be a multi-disciplinary effort, drawing on experts in gene therapy, materials science, molecular biology and engineering. Dr. David Williams, project leader and director of the UK Centre for Tissue Engineering, told Wired.com: "Despite plenty of progress, tissue engineering has not achieved tremendous clinical success or commercial success." He explained that although small samples of various tissues can be grown in the lab, the process needs to be scaled up, and sped up, if it is to be good enough for skin grafts, for example, in the real world. Making the leap from the lab to the surgery will not be a simple task, but Williams is confident that the team will be testing clinical treatments within four years. The team will also be investigating exactly how it is that stem cells can turn into other cells. Williams says that although in many cases scientists have worked out how it happens, he wants to build a working model of the process. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Aug 2005

Chinese go mental for nude web chat

Pity if you will the poor old Chinese authorities in their fight to stem the tide of internet-provoked social destabilisation. First up, you've got Sister Furong flaunting herself like a two-bit hussy, then there's the thousands of addicts relentlessly gaming themselves into online degeneracy. But it gets worse. One researcher has found that up to 20,000 Chinese regularly log on to chat rooms completely stark bollock naked - a small percentage of the country's estimated 87 million net users, 'tis true, but more than enough to set Beijing alarm bells ringing. That, at least, is the conclusion of China Youth Association researcher Liu Gang, who told the Shanghai Daily: "At first, we thought it was merely a game for a few mentally abnormal people. But as our research continued, we found the problem was much larger than expected." Yup, there's actually thousands of mentally abnormal people out there flashing their privates and "performing provocative poses". The basis for this shocking statistic is Liu's investigation of "10 site participants, eight of whom were single men aged 25-35 without steady jobs". Ah, that explains it. A couple of years in the army will set the perverts back on the straight and narrow before it's too late because, as the Shanghai Daily notes: "Child development authorities worry that baring one's body to strangers will have negative consequences on a youngster's personal growth." Well, we see their point, although we're pretty certain that baring one's body to strangers would have very postive growth consequences for one part of the average 25-35 year old's body, although it's not something we want to dwell on at great length. ®
Lester Haines, 30 Aug 2005

Orange offers cut-price broadband

Orange has teamed up with sibling Wanadoo to offer its new punters 2 meg broadband for £9.99 a month. The deal marks the first step on the path to rebrand Wanadoo under the Orange livery as part of a massive makeover announced in June by parent company France Telecom (FT). As part of FT's NExT (New Experience in Telecom services) proposals, the Wanadoo brand is to be scrapped and rebranded as Orange. FT claims this €200m makeover will "give customers access to a universe of services that are both high value and simple". Rebranding is due to kick off in the UK next year although this announcement provides a taster of what's to come as FT's mobile (Orange) and internet (Wanadoo) divisions work ever closer together. As part of this time-limited promo offer, new Orange mobile customers will be able to sign up to 2 meg broadband for £9.99 a month. Existing punters can also take advantage of the offer if they extend their mobile contract. Eric Abensur, CEO of Wanadoo UK, said the offer "marks the start of an exciting future of compelling deals for customers of Wanadoo and Orange". ®
Tim Richardson, 30 Aug 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Zotob arrests throws open trade in compromised PCs

One of two men arrested last week over the Zotob worm outbreak has been linked to the creation of 20 other viruses. Farid Essebar, 18, a Russian-born Moroccan resident, was arrested by investigators last Thursday, less than two weeks after Zotob worms exploited recently-discovered Windows flaws to disrupt high profile organisations around the world. Essebar was allegedly paid by his supposed accomplice, Atilla Ekici, to create the worms. Ekici has been arrested in Turkey by police investigating the case. Essebar is believed to use the nick-name "Diabl0", a phrase embedded inside the Zotob-A worm. Sophos researchers have determined that over 20 other viruses include the "Diabl0" handle, including numerous variants of the Mytob worm (a code cousin to Zotob) as well as a MyDoom variant, MyDoom-BG. "Until the authorities recover source code from the suspect's computers there won't be any hard evidence but the use of the 'Diabl0' handle is circumstantial evidence of linkage. Virus writers tend to sign their work like graffiti artists," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at anti-virus firm Sophos. "To the untrained eye the Mytob and Zotob worms can appear quite different: one group of viruses travels via email, the other mostly by exploiting a Microsoft security hole. But when examined by an experienced virus analyst, the similarities become clear. It appears whoever wrote Zotob had access to the Mytob source code, ripped out the email-spreading section and plugged in the Microsoft exploit," he added. Sophos reckons several people have access to the Mytob source code - so last week's arrest will at best only slow down rather than curtail the production of fresh variants. Anti-virus firm F-Secure agrees with Sophos that Diabl0 is the likely author of several of the Mytob variants since February this year. "However, he's not behind all of them," said Mikko Hyppönen, director of anti-virus research at F-Secure. "There's around 70 known variants of Mytob and practically all of them create botnets of the infected machines. Some of these botnets have been controlled by unrelated groups, such as Blackcarder." F-Secure has found Mytob variants written after Essebar's arrest, backing up their theory that multiple virus authors are involved in distributing the malware strain. But there's little doubt "Diabl0" is a significant player. Some earlier Mytob variants downloaded additional components from a site associated with the 0x90-Team, an underground gathering site for bot authors. "Diabl0 aka Farid Essebar was associated with 0x90-Team," Hyppönen writes in an entry to F-Secure's weblog which notes the 0x90-team.com was defaced last weekend by hackers objecting to the activities of bot authors. Earlier this month separate groups of hackers released a barrage of worms in a battle to seize control of Windows PCs that remain vulnerable to the now infamous Windows Plug-and-Play vulnerability exploited by Zotob. Fragments of evidence suggest a group called m00p is creating IRCBot variants that compete with Zotob variants created by 0x90-Team over the control of vulnerable Windows PCs. ®
John Leyden, 30 Aug 2005
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StorageTek shareholders cheer Sun buy

StorageTek shareholders appear thrilled to turn the company into a division of Sun Microsystems, voting today in favor of the acquisition. More than 99 per cent of investor votes went to approve Sun's $4.1bn takeover offer for the tape storage giant. Only .33 per cent of shares voted to block the meger and just .46 per cent were abstentions. The shareholder approval clears the way for Sun to close the deal on Aug. 31. StorageTek shareholders will receive $37 cash for every share of common stock. Sun announced its plan to buy StorageTek in June. Executives bill the move as a way to revive Sun's long struggling storage business and to open new customer accounts to larger hardware sales. Critics, of course, suggest that Sun has purchased a tape dinosaur and that many of the deals StorageTek has in place with Sun rivals will end over time. ®
Ashlee Vance, 30 Aug 2005
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Creative Technology beats Apple on MP3 patent

Creative Technology has been crowing after it was awarded a patent for MP3 player interface technology used by devices like rival Apple's popular iPod. Creative, maker of the Creative Zen and Nomad Jukebox MP3 players, said Tuesday it was "very excited" by the patent award, adding this "recognized" the company's innovation in this highly competitive and lucrative field. The chuffed Creative reminded the MP3 buying public and a fickle industry, that it - and not its sexier, market leading rival Apple - was first to market with an MP3 player. News of Creative's successful application is the second patent blow to Apple's iPod this month. AppleInsider reported in early August that a three-year battle by Apple to patent the iPod's menu-based interface had proved unsuccessful, thanks to a prior filing by inventor and Microsoft research scientist John Platt. Platt's application described a system to "generate playlists for a library collection of media items via selecting a plurality of seed items, at least one of which is an undesirable seed item." After Apple's original filing was rejected, the company sought a review of an amended set of claims to its patent, whose primary creators are listed as chief executive Steve Jobs and vice president Jeff Robbin. That review proved unsuccessful. The Zen patent covers the selection by the user of a least one track in a portable media player as a user navigates through a hierarchy using three or more successive screens. Sound familiar? Creative has been employing the interface since September 2000, when the Nomad Jukebox first appeared. Apple's iPod debuted in October 2001, with Apple filing its patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in October 2002. Unfortunately for Creative, though, it is the late coming iPod that is ahead in the game. iPod has up to 75 per cent market share, according to some analysts, compared to just a fraction of the market for Creative. Creative also saw its recent fourth quarter revenue grow 51 per cent, down from initial estimates of between 65 per cent and 80 per cent. The company blamed "slower than expected overall market demand for MP3 players", which are believed to make up 68 per cent of Creative's revenue. Apple, arguably, might also be credited with having popularized MP3 players among the music buying public with skilled marketing, advertising and branding, and an ability to keep fuelling demand through its relatively limited manufacturing capacity. On Tuesday, though, Creative was biting back, although it made no mention of plans to enforce the patent and potentially charge Apple for use rights. Sim Wong Hoo, Creative's chairman and CEO, let rip in a statement. "I am very excited that we were awarded the Zen patent, which helps to protect our invention and recognizes our innovation in portable media players," Hoo said. "After a major investment of time and effort by a group of our research and development engineers, we developed a way for a user to efficiently and intuitively navigate and select tracks from a significant number of tracks stored on a player. Before this invention, there was no intuitive and efficient way to deal with the large number of tracks that could be stored on a high-capacity player," Hoo added.®
Gavin Clarke, 30 Aug 2005
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Fujitsu turns green over Opteron workstation

AMD has done a bit of public relations dirty work on behalf of a partner by issuing a press release celebrating a new Opteron-based workstation from Fujitsu Siemens. The Celsius V830 runs on the dual-core Opteron - Models 275, 270 and 265. The usual workstation crowd of graphics freaks and engineers are expected to use the box. The system will join a large family of Opteron workstations available from big boys such as HP and Sun Microsystems and smaller players such as EBS. While Fujitsu Siemens couldn't muster its own press statement touting the box (that we could find), it did manage to deliver up a quotation for AMD's PR job. Oddly, the quotation answers an unasked question and makes a random plug for "green" computing. "Fujitsu Siemens Computers has focused its efforts on developing a workstation platform that offers customers high performance combined with optimized ergonomic features," said Andreas Thimmel, a vice president at Fujitsu Siemens. "The answer is the Celsius V830 workstation based on the AMD Opteron processor, offering improved performance for the full range of new graphic applications, along with significantly reduced noise levels. In addition, thanks to Fujitsu Siemens Computers' attention to green technology, we have worked to eliminate hazardous substances from the entire workstation." The new workstation uses Nvidia's nForce Professional 2200 and 2050 graphics products and has two x16 PCI Express ports. The system ships this month in EMEA and Asia. ®
Ashlee Vance, 30 Aug 2005
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Windows Vista in your Christmas stocking?

Microsoft has apparently put a date on the release of the next version of its Windows client, Windows Vista. Users can expect Windows Vista to ship by November 15, 2006 - just in time for the 2006 holiday shopping season, according to WindowsITPro. Microsoft will no doubt hope to cash-in on a consumer PC buying frenzy during the run up to Christmas. Microsoft has previously pinned the Windows Vista release at the fourth quarter of 2006, while speaking at the company's annual partner conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, earlier this summer. The Windows Vista server companion, still codenamed Longhorn Server, is expected in 2007 with a release to manufacturing (RTM) date pinned at January 10, 2007. The server is expected to fork from the Windows Vista release schedule during the summer of 2006, with a Longhorn release candidate (RC) 2 due on October 18, 2006. News of the dates came as Microsoft this week slipped out the first full beta of its delayed WinFS storage subsystem, which had been billed as appearing in Windows Vista by Microsoft's chief software architect Bill Gates in 2003. Microsoft removed WinFS from Windows Vista in order to help the delayed operating system hit some kind of realistic shipment date. Among its advances, WinFS is expected to introduce a type of replication to the file management system that would update all relevant data fields in a file if one item is changed.®
Gavin Clarke, 30 Aug 2005