19th > September > 2005 Archive
It’s a hard life, being forced to stand on the VIP balcony at the Circuit de Catalunya outside of Barcelona at a BAR/Honda F1 racing team test day while Jenson Button drives down the start-finish straight with a banshee howl that drills a neat hole right through the head from ear to ear. But someone has to do it. The reason for such suffering is the fact that Adobe has just signed up to be a technology provider to BAR/Honda – a deal expected to be formally announced in a couple of weeks. This isn’t a full sponsorship deal, so don’t go looking for any Adobe decals on the cars or flame-proof suits, and the company is still coy about exactly what it does entail. It does seem, however, that the deal entails some interesting quid pro quos. BAR will be using Adobe’s creative tools, such as Photoshop and the rest, in generating future artwork for promotion and PR activities. But Adobe will also be using the team as a test-bed for some technology developments in Acrobat expected to make their way into the product next year. Asking what that might be led only to long silences punctuated by more of Master Button’s banshee howling. Guesses along the lines of using Acrobat as a transport vehicle for complex, dynamic engineering data and documents between the Team and suppliers such as Honda seem the most likely bet, if only because such suggestions produced the longest silences. Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, BAR does know it is being used as the guinea pig. ®
CommentComment So Skype got itself sold.
PreviewPreview We've always liked Borland's JBuilder IDE for Java, especially as it is part of a pretty complete Application Lifecycle Management platform.
Late last week Microsoft announced changes to Software Assurance - its licensing and maintenance scheme for larger customers. From March 2006 customers signing up to Software Assurance will get more benefits than just automatic upgrades and spread payments. Desktop Deployment Services will offer help, consultants and planning for upgrades. Customers will get Windows Vista Enterprise which provides encryption and makes integrating different languages easier. Anyone signing up for more than 30, 000 licenses will get "an additional number of training vouchers". Windows Fundamental for Legacy PCs is a way for companies to maintain legacy PCs Software assurance, or licensing 6.0, was introduced amidst some controversy in 2002, it was tweaked a little last year. Its introduction led to a sales spike as companies rushed to renew their old agreements rather than sign up to the three-year agreements. It offered guaranteed upgrades during the life of the contract - but many companies regard this as a chore rather than a benefit. More details on Microsoft's website here and on Computer Weekly here.®
LogicaCMG is paying €930.3m(£630.6m) for French reseller Unilog and will issue shares to pay for it. It will buy 32.3 per cent from "certain members of the management of Unilog and others for a total of €255.4m in cash and the issue of 19, 572, 703 new Consideration Shares.". The company proposes to acquire the remaining 67.7 per cent by offering shareholders €73 in cash for each share, an 11.5 per cent premium. The combined company will have 27,000 employees and would have had turnover of just over €2bn in 2004. The merger will make the new company number four in France and a top-ten player across Europe. Directors pforecast "synergies" of £19m for the year ending December 31 2007. You can see the release on Logica's website as long as you tell them you are in the UK and your telephone code is 44 - go here. The deal is subject to the usual shareholder and regulator approval - there will be an Extraordinary General Meeting 13 October and the shareholder offer is expected to close by year end. ®
The world and his dog are sniffing around Onetel following Centrica's decision last week to flog its telecoms business. According to weekend press reports the Carphone Warehouse is among a string of companies interested in the business, which has around 1.7m punters. Among other potential bidders that might be prepared to stump up between £300m and £350m include France Telecom, which has ambitious plans to expand its services in the UK using its Orange brand. Tele2, which has some 30m punters in 25 countries, LLU ISP EasyNet and satellite broadcaster BSkyB are also reportedly interested in making a bid. Cable & Wireless (C&W) - which owns broadband ISP Bulldog - has ruled itself out of the running, say reports. Centrica - which owns British Gas - confirmed last Thursday that it plans to sell its OneTel telecoms business. The UK utility wants to concentrate on its energy operations and will use the cash from the sale of OneTel to invest in this business. In a statement the company said: "Although the ability to offer a telecoms solution to our customers remains important, as part of focusing our capital and resources on energy and related home services we have now commenced the process to dispose of the Onetel business." No one from OneTel was available to comment on weekend press reports at the time of writing. ®
A federal judge in New York has deemed the questions raised by a global warming lawsuit to be too political for the judiciary to deal with. The suit, brought by eight states and the city of New York, asked for the courts to force five utilities companies to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. The five companies - American Electric Power, Southern, Xcel Energy, Cinergy, and the Tennessee Valley Authority public power system - are some of the largest carbon dioxide emitters in the US, Reuters reports. However, Judge Loretta Preska of the US District Court for the Southern District, dismissed the suit, saying that the questions raised should be handled by elected representatives of the people, namely Congress and the President: "Were judges to resolve political questions, there would be no check on their resolutions because the Judiciary is not accountable to any other branch or to the people," she wrote. Connecticut and New York have already said that they will appeal the ruling, arguing that it undermines their ability to hold out-of-state polluters accountable. "Carbon dioxide pollution endangers public health and the environment, just as other harmful emissions. These companies must be held accountable and forced to clean up," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. ®
Britain is once again 'top of the bots' with the world's highest proportion of known bot-infected computers. In the first half of 2005, The UK has almost a third (32 per cent) of all bots – virus-infected, zombie PCs under the control of hackers and used for malicious purposes such as identity theft and spam distribution –. Britain also topped the chart in the second half of last year with a lower 26 per cent rating. The statistics, taken from Symantec’s Global Internet Threat Report for the period January to June 2005, are based on the number of PCs worldwide that are known to be infected with bot agents, such as the infamous Agobot worm. Bot network activity has increased from below 5,000 bots per day in December 2004 to an average of 10,352 during this reporting period. Symantec reckons the likely cause of this rise is down to the rapid growth in broadband subscriptions and the delayed download of software patches for operating systems and software. Bots (short for ‘robots’) are programs that are covertly installed on a user’s computer in order to allow unauthorised users to control the infected computer remotely. Bot-infected computers are blamed for the rapid growth in phishing, spam, denial of service (DoS) attacks and other security risks such as spyware and adware. DoS attacks alone have risen by 680 per cent over the first half of 2005 to reach an average of 927 per day, according to Symantec. ®
Terry Sempel, chief executive of Yahoo! told British TV execs in Cambridge last week that his company offered them their best chance of making money from their archives. Sempel told delegates at the Royal Television Society conference that online video search was a way "to monetize some of the stuff that's lounging around in warehouses and hasn't made a dime in years", according to Reuters. He said Yahoo! will commission its own content but it would need a personality to make it distinct from existing broadcast material. The firm recently announced it employed Kevin Sites, a video reporter who made his reputation in Iraq. Semel forecast that advertising money will continue to move away from TV and onto the internet. Yahoo and Google are currently battling for the hearts, minds, and content, of broadcasters. The BBC has shown more enthusiasm than most for putting its archive online. More details on Reuters and The Times.®
Market watcher Semico has doubled its growth forecast for the chip industry this year. The company had said its expects 2005's sales to come in just two per cent above 2004's total, but now it's upped the growth figure to four per cent. That should see sales total $221.6bn. In 2006, sales will leap a further 18.2 per cent to $262.1bn, Semico said, EETimes . That said, the company cut its forecast for 2007 and 2008, reducing its 2007 growth forecast from 19.8 per cent to 17.8 per cent, and its 2008 growth forecast from 18.1 per cent to 15.4 per cent. The reduction still leaves the chip industry making $308.7bn and $356.3bn, respectively, in those two years. Sales will fall in 2009, Semico reckons, falling 2.8 per cent to $346.3bn. Semico's change of heart comes in marked contrast to a forecast made by rival market watcher iSuppli. Two weeks ago, iSuppli halved its forecast from 5.9 per cent to 2.4 per cent. iSuppli is expecting a poor Q4, with falling demand pushing prices down even further - as will increasing output. Short-term forecasts hinge on the effect of rising energy costs - will be rise sufficiently to dampen consumer and business spending on technology. iSuppli thinks they might - Semico admits the possibility, but believes PC and mobile phone spending remain strong. Market researcher Advanced Forecasting earlier this month took the same line, pegging its forecast in rising unit shipments - a sign, it believes, of growing demand. ®
ICANN has delayed again the approval of the .xxx top level domain (TLD) until an unspecified "future date". The establishment of the domain was originally agreed by ICANN in June, but has been mired in political debate after conservative groups in the US raised concerns about having a TLD specifically for porn. President Bush stepping into the fray with his own worries about a virtual red-light district last month has only slowed the process even further. At a meeting on Thursday, ICANN's board of directors told staff that ICM Registry, the company that will operate the .xxx domain, will have to agree to further contractual provisions before the adult-entertainment TLD gets the green light. However, the hordes of feline lovers that surf the web - and what else could explain why "pussy" is such a popular search term? - need not despair. The .cat domain, intended to promote the Catalan language and culture, has been given the go ahead, and is expected to go live next year. ®
Bell Microproducts has agreed to distribute backup products from Sonasoft across Europe. Sonasoft makes Point-Click Recovery software - a recovery product aimed at SMEs(Small and Medium Enterprises). It provides disk to disk backup on Windows servers. The company's SonaSafe product automates backup using templates which the customer can change. If a crash or failure does occur the application maintains a backup server to restore the system from. ®
More than four million people worldwide are tuned into Vodafone's 3G phone service, the giant cellco announced today. Ten months after launching its next generation service, Vodafone reported today that 3G is "gaining increasing traction in the market". As of the end of August it had some 4.35m 3G customer in some 15 markets, including around 400,000 Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G/GPRS data cards in circulation. When Vodafone launched its 3G service last November it predicted that 10m people would be using its 3G services by March 2006. The company is relying on the annual Christmas shopathon to help boost numbers. Last week it unveiled a new range of handsets intended to take 3G services to the mass market. The cellco says the phones will be the "best yet" with handsets smaller and lighter, with longer battery life, nifty new designs and "better value prices". A number of the phone will be geared to the entry-level market. Peter Bamford. Vodafone's head of marketing, said : "Vodafone will be offering a broader range of phones at better value prices this Christmas. A significant proportion of the range is targeted at mid to entry level price points, encouraging the mass market adoption of Vodafone live! with 3G. "We are confident that this is going to be a 3G Christmas," he said. Vodafone also announced today that it intends to start user tests and trials of a faster 3G service in the first half of next year. A full commercial launch of the HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) service has been pencilled in for the middle of 2006 and will see download speeds boosted by around 4 times, the company said in a statement. ®
By 2009 13.5m people in Europe will know the pain and joy of mobile corporate email. Research from IDC suggests individuals will access corporate email through laptops, PDAs and mobile phones. The report found that email is still being underexploited, despite its status as the is the most widely used mobile data application and the success of the Blackberry (or Crackberry). Researchers predict an annual growth rate of 36 per cent with most growth coming from larger enterprises. The full report - Corporate Mobile Email in Western Europe: Forecast and Analysis, 2004-2009 - is available to buy from idc.com. ®
Tiger Telematics will release its second-generation, widescreen Gizmondo handheld console in Q2 2006. Tiger will sell the new model alongside the current version, which launched in the UK in March this year and which makes its debut in the US in October. The widescreen model comes in response to the 4.3in LCD built into Sony's PlayStation Portable. Today's Gizmondos have a 2.8in screen. The new model sports a 4in, 480 x 272 job and, like the PSP, will support Wi-Fi wireless networking, courtesy of an integrated 802.11g adaptor. The new console will feature Bluetooth 2.0 for faster wireless connections than the current model is capable of. The clock speed will run "above 500MHz", the company said, and the it is "significantly escalating" the console's memory, it claimed without providing numbers. The new unit will be based on Windows CE 5.0 - the console is currently equipped with CE 4.2. The second-generation unit will retain the original's GSM/GPRS connectivity, but add voice support with an integrated speakerphone and voice control. The unit will get a TV-out port, too. The risk here is that US buyers will sit back and wait for the better console, particularly given the fact that more games will be available by the time it ships than are on sale now. However, in a bid to persuade potential purchasers to buy in October, Tiger promised to reveal details of an "upgrade path" before the second-generation console ships. The widescreen machine's release date remains uncertain, however - Q2 2006 is simply a projected timeframe, Tiger said. However, it pledged to demo the device at next January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. ®
One-time Grokster CEO Wayne Rosso could end up running the once again if claims in today's Wall Street Journal that his current operation, Mashboxx, is trying to buy the controversial P2P software company prove correct. The financial terms on which such a deal might be struck are not known, but the WSJ speculates that Grokster's owners might take a cut of Mashboxx's future revenues. Mashboxx was founded last year by Rosso to build a legal peer-to-peer network. The company's P2P client uses Snocap's major label-supported music identification system to tracks downloads. When a user downloads a track that's in Snocap's database, he or she is given the chance to pay for the privilege. The download is protected by DRM code. Snocap was founded by Napster creator Shawn Fanning to create the infrastructure necessary for legal P2P services to operate. When The Register saw a demo of Mashboxx in action in May this year, the software acted as a standard P2P client for all non-Snocaped tracks. However, Grokster's failure to persuade the US Supreme Court that it's not responsible when users share music illegally has put a question mark over that aspect of the software. The Supreme Court ruled that Grokster could be sued for copyright infringement if it can be shown that it encouraged the sharing and downloading of unauthorised copies of copyright material. Grokster was sued by the movie industry, and the case must now go back to the lower court, which will have to decide whether the company did indeed encourage its users to steal songs. Various comments made by the Supreme Court judges suggest Grokster and fellow defendant StreamCast, owner of the Morpheus P2P client, will have a hard time persuading the court that it didn't try to profit from illegal downloading. A deal with Mashboxx might present Grokster with an opportunity to show its willingness to go legal, and thus limit the impact should the court side with the movie industry. Mashboxx has already licensed music catalogues from Sony-BMG, and is in talks with other major labels and independents. ®
There is now one mobile phone subscription for every three people on the planet, according to researchers at Wireless Intelligence. The information service, a collaboration between analyst house Ovum and the GSM Association says that there are now more than two billion mobile subscriptions out there, including pre-paid accounts. The actual number of subscribers is, of course, lower because some people have multiple accounts - phones for work, home and showing off, for instance. Meanwhile other accounts, many of them pre-paid numbers, are inactive. But Wireless Intelligence says that the figure is still a "major milestone" for the industry. Unsurprisingly, most of the growth is in large developing markets, such as China, India and Africa along with Eastern Europe and Latin America. Western Europe is pretty much mined out, and penetration is expected to exceed 100 per cent in the region by 2007. According to Nokia, which Gartner says sold nearly 32 per cent of all phones in Q2 this year, getting to three billion will take another five years. ®
Symantec has attacked the perceived security advantages of Firefox and Apple Macs by drawing unfavourable comparisons with Microsoft's software and describing Mac fans as living in a "false paradise". According to the latest edition of Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report, 25 vulnerabilities were disclosed for Mozilla browsers and 13 for Microsoft Internet Explorer in the first half of 2005. Graham Pinkney, head of threat intelligence EMEA at Symantec, said that switching from IE to Firefox as a way of minimising security risks was no longer valid advice. "Cross-site scripting attacks have been used to attack more vulnerabilities in Mozilla browsers over the last six months than IE," Pinkney told an IDC security conference last week ahead of the publication of Symantec's threat report today. John Cheney, chief executive of email filtering firm BlackSpider, replied that the release of Firefox had "helped Microsoft to raise its game" in terms of browser security. As well as making comments that will doubtless irk Firefox fans, Symantec has renewed its assault of the perceived security advantages of Apple Macs. "Mac users may be operating under a false sense of security as a noteworthy number of vulnerabilities and attacks were detected against Apple Mac’s operating system, OS X," Symantec said, reflecting comments in the previous edition of its threat report that OS X was an emerging target for attack. "While the number of vendor-confirmed vulnerabilities in OS X has remained relatively constant during the last two reporting periods [12 months], Symantec predicts this could change in the future. Symantec’s analysis on a rootkit (OSX/Weapox) reveals it is designed to take advantage of OS X. This particular trojan demonstrates that as OS X increases in popularity, so too will the scrutiny it receives from potential attackers." Away from the desktop, Microsoft enterprise applications remain the top hacker target. For the fourth consecutive reporting period, the Microsoft SQL Server Resolution Service Stack Overflow Attack was the most common attack, accounting for 33 per cent of all attacks monitored by Symantec. Malware authors go modular Malicious code threats to privacy and confidentiality increased rapidly in the first six months of 2005 - up 48 per cent on the back half of 2004. Virus writers upped their production lines to release 10,866 new Windows virus and worm variants in the first six months of this year, Symantec reports. For the second period in succession, NetSky-P was the most reported malicious code sample. Gaobot and Spybot - both linked to the creation of zombie networks of compromised Windows PCs - were the second and third most reported. Malware that exposes confidential user information represented three-quarters (74 per cent) of the top 50 malicious code samples received by Symantec. Seven of the top 50 were linked to the creation of botnets. Websites that specialise in distributing source code and tools for malicious bots and botnets helped fuel the creation of multiple copies of Spybot with 6,361 new variants of the malware created in the first half of 2005, a 48 per cent increase over the 4,288 new variants documented in the second half of 2004. Instead of releasing a wide range of functions in one program or file, virus writers are beginning to create modular code to avoid detection. Once installed, modular malware first tries to disable antivirus software and firewall protection and then trieas to download other pieces (or modules) of code from compromised computers across the internet. A patch in time... Symantec chronicled 1,862 new vulnerabilities during 1H2005 - an average of 10 new flaws a day – 73 per cent of which it categorises as easily exploitable. The time between the disclosure of a vulnerability and the release of an associated exploit was just six days. Half (59 per cent) of vulnerabilities were associated with web application technologies. Along with computer viruses and vulnerabilities, spam remains a leading security concern. Spam accounted for 61 per cent of all email traffic in the first half of 2005, according to Symantec, with over half (51 per cent) of all junk mail received worldwide originated in the US. ®
EasyMobile.com - the discount mobile phone outfit backed by easyJet entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou - is to launch its service in Germany. As in the UK, easyMobile is piggybacking on T-Mobile's network to provide the service. Speaking to The Reg today EasyMobile boss Frank Rasmussen declined to say exactly when the service would be launch but confirmed that it would be unveiled before "Christmas". And like the easyMobile service in the UK, Rasmussen believes its low tariffs and contracts will prove a hit with phone users in Germany. Germany is set to become the third country to be exposed to easyMobile's brand of mobile service. In March easyMobile, went live in the UK. A month later the fledgling cellco announced plans to enter The Netherlands in a tie-up with Dutch network operator Telfort. That service was due to be launched during the summer however that's been put back a few months and is now due to go live later this autumn. ®
ReviewReview In the early days of Windows Mobile smart phones Orange was the UK's leading light, launching the first UK device way back at the tail end of 2002. Since then Orange has been joined by other operators and by operator-agnostic vendors, but the company has kept its own line flowing with a steady range of new entrants. The latest of these is the SPV C550, a blatant attempt to jump on the music bandwagon, but with a few other nice plus points too, writes Sandra Vogel.
Accountancy software provider Sage has bought yet another company - French reseller Cogestib. Sage is paying £7.7m in cold, hard cash for Cogestib, a French firm which sells business management systems to small and medium businesses in France, especially in car distribution. It has 3, 000 customers and revenues until 31 December 2004 were £9.3m on which it made a profit of £0.5m. It already customises Sage products for the French motor market. Sage has bought a series of firms this year including Swiss and Spanish resellers and developers and most recently Delta Systems in Ireland. ®
TSMC, the world's largest chip foundry, has added its voice to the chorus of claims that the short-term prognosis for the world semiconductor business is positive. The foundry's vote of confidence was signalled by the announcement of a plan to raise capital spending next year. TSMC spent around $2.32bn in 2004 on new plant, and has said it will spend $2.5-2.7bn this year. Speaking to reporters yesterday, TSMC CIO Stephen T Tso said the company would lift capex still further during 2006, according to a DigiTimes report. Last week, market watcher Semico echoed a bullish forecast from Advanced Forecasting and said it believes 2006 will deliver strong revenue growth to the chip industry. ®
Redstone is dividing itself up into four autonomous operating units following its acquisition of Xpert Group in April. It says the re-organisation delivers "immediate profitability and cash generation". With the new structure, the data networking and IT products reseller, says it has "developed a strong platform for its future growth, is largely debt free, is expected to be cash generative and is much better positioned to take advantage of a developing and consolidating market place". The company claims 370 staff in the UK and turnover of more than £60m. The four operating units are: Redstone Converged Solutions - a mixture of Xpert Communications and Redstone's Solutions business selling converged IP products and networks. Redstone Technologies, previously Xpert Technology, which is an HP reseller specialising in servers and storage area networks. Redstone Telecom which will sell inbound and outbound minutes and associated products. Redstone Managed Solutions which will concentrate on application development and support and more bespoke work.
IBM started shipping the new z9 mainframe on Friday, squarely aiming the machines at larger enterprises. The z9, the cunningly-named ninth generation of the z-series of mainframe, is built specifically with security in mind. It boasts intrusion detection systems, encryption key management and a cryptography accelerator that can perform up to 6,000 SSL handshakes a second. IBM says companies want mainframes to help them manage complex corporate issues, like protecting customer data, and complying with an increasingly stringent regulatory climate. "There's a groundswell of interest from businesses and governments around what the new class of mainframes can do," said Erich Clementi, general manager, IBM System z9. "From a technical perspective, the mainframe's deep commitment to Java, Linux, virtualization and SOA are driving adoption." The machine is capable of a billion transactions every day, IBM boasts, and at the top end, a z9 would come decked out with 54 chips and 18 billion transistors. Expect to pay a cool million dollars for an entry-level version. Analysts suggest that the z9 will start to have a positive impact on revenue by Q4 this year. Bob Djurdjevic of Phoenix-based Annex Research told Reuters that customers have been putting off buying IBM's mainframes for a while, in anticipation of the new generation machine. ®
Virus writers have developed a worm that spoofs the behaviour of internet search engine Google, varying the results displayed to suit the requirements of hackers. P2Load-A modifies the HOSTS file on infected PCs by replacing the original with a file downloaded from a remote website under the control of hackers. When users run a search, the results are normally shown correctly - but sponsored links are different. For some searches, other links appear which have been specified by the creator of this malware, resulting in increased traffic to these websites. The changes in behaviour happen because users are not getting their results from Google but from a hacker-controlled website based in Germany. P2Load-A also modifies a user's start page. Spanish anti-virus firm Panda reports the page is an almost exact copy of Google, which supports the 17 languages of Google and redirects users even if they make a mistake when entering the address, such as 'wwwgoogle.com'. "Its [P2Load's] aims are none other than to increase visits to the pages linked by the creator of this malware or earn an income from companies that want to appear in the first few results in computer where the identity of Google has been spoofed," said Luis Corrons, director of PandaLabs. "In both cases, the motivation of the author of this malware is purely financial." The worm spreads across file trading networks, targeting users of the Shareaza and Imesh P2P programs. P2Load-A copies itself to the shared directory of these programs as an executable file called Knights of the Old Republic 2, a reference to a well-known computer game related to the Star Wars saga. If this file is run, it displays an error message informing the user that a file does not exist and offering to download it. Meanwhile, unknown to its user, their Windows PC will have become infected. PandaLabs has warned both the ISP hosting the page and Google in order to take measures and neutralise the attack. P2Load-A uses techniques for fooling users into visiting untrusted web sites more commonly seen in pharming attacks against DNS servers. Although it is rare for malware to change the HOSTS file of infected PCs the tactic is not unprecedented and has generated alerts from Australian consumer security firm PC Tools and others since the start of the year.
USB Flash drives based on technology developer U3's portable application specification started shipping today. Available drives come from Kingston, Memorex and Verbatim, the three storage companies U3 announced as supporters of the platform last March. Disgo, Intuix and Disk2Go also have products supporting the U3 system. U3 said I-O Data will begin to produce U3-based Flash drives for the Japanese market early next year. U3's technology enables compatible applications to be run right off a compliant USB Flash drive, safe in the knowledge that preferences and user data will be kept on the device, not written to the host PC's hard drive. The upshot is the ability to take your data to any computer without the need to ensure either that the machine you're about to use has the right applications installed or, if it does, to re-enter all your personalisation information, such as bookmarks, sign-on codes and so on. Applications given support for the U3 system include Winamp, Skype and Firefox. U3, which was co-founded by M-Systems and SanDisk in January, touts the technology as an alternative to notebook computers, but with compatible drives coming in at 512MB, 1GB or 2GB, they're not yet a replacement for a fully laden laptop. The technology is also limited to Windows-based computers. ®
Siemens has confirmed that 2,400 jobs are to be axed at its IT business in Germany over the next two years as the technology and engineering giant looks to cut costs. Speculation has grown over recent weeks about the scale of the job losses as Siemens looks to cut overheads in a bid return to "sustainable profitable growth". In particular, three loss-making businesses - Siemens Business Services (SBS), Communications (Com) and Logistics and Assembly Systems (L&A) - are facing restructuring. IT operation SBS is to cut overheads by €1.5bn by 2007. As part of that plan it is also axing 2,400 jobs in Germany over the next two years. In a statement Siemens said: "SBS is accelerating its operational reorientation [and is] initiating an extensive program to improve its competitiveness." Dr Klaus Kleinfeld, Siemens president and CEO, added that the company's goal is "to quickly put all businesses on a course of profitable growth. "We do what needs to be done to achieve our earnings targets. Our customer offerings will thus be even more competitive, which is the basis for our company's success and for the future security of jobs at Siemens. "Only successful businesses can secure and create jobs," he said. ®
ICSTIS, the UK's premium rate phone watchdog, has given a cautious welcome to Jamster!'s decision to let parents prevent their kids from downloading content from its website. The Jamster! Guardian service goes live in the UK this week and rolls out to other countries later this year. It enables parents enter a mobile phone number onto the Jamster! website to prevent content from being downloaded to that phone. A spokesman for ICSTIS said the regulator welcomed the move before adding that there "was not enough detail to comment further". Jamster! - a wholly-owned subsidiary of VeriSign - supplies mobile content such as ring tones, music, graphics, and games to mobile phone users. And while the mobile content market is booming, there are concerns that people buying ring tones for aren't completely aware of the small print. In some cases, for example, punters believed they were buying a single ring tone when they were actually subscribing to a service that cost them money each time they were sent a new tune. And since many of the service on offer appeal to young people, it is parents who have to pick up the bill. Announcing the measure today Jamster! COO Markus Berger de León said he wanted parents "to feel comfortable and confident" in how their families use Jamster!'s content. ®
NASA is preparing to lay out its plans for returning to the moon and plans to send a four-person mission back to our largest satellite in 2018. The astronauts will stay on the lunar surface for a week. NASA briefed Congress on its plans last Friday, according to the BBC. The agency told elected officials that developing the spacecraft and associated technologies for the mission would cost in the region of $100bn. The 2018 mission would happen in several stages. First, NASA will have to put a lunar landing module, and a propulsion stage, into orbit around Earth. Next, Shuttle's replacement, the so-called Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), and a new launcher would dock with the landing module before heading for the moon. The agency also proposes building a rudimentary lunar base from which astronauts could begin to exploit lunar resources by mining for water and fuel. Getting a $100bn project signed off in the current political climate could prove a tough task, however. The US government is already heavily committed to the war in Iraq, and also, post-Katrina, to vast restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast. Representative Bart Gordon, a Tennessee Democrat on the US House Science Committee, issued a statement saying that "strong presidential leadership will be needed" if there is to be agreement on the mission. If NASA gets the green light, it will be the first manned mission to the moon since 1972. ®
Logicalis has bolstered its UK business with the acquisition of TBC, an IBM premier partner based in Croydon. Terms were undisclosed. With TBC's annual revenues of c.£30m under its belt, Logicalis will have UK revenues of around £125m per annum. Logicalis, part of South African-owned Datatec Limited, has bought two other UK mid-range resellers in recent times - Hawke Systems and Notability. It is gunning for UK revenues of £150m within 18 months. TBC Customer list; "synergies"; fighting talk aimed at Computacenter, SCC and Morse; all this and more in the Logicalis press release. ®
First Apple came for the bloggers. Now they've come for ... the Nigels. Although Apple allows punters to personalize iPods bought at its online store, it operates a bizarre discrimination policy, a Register reader has discovered. If you want to engrave it with your name, you had better not be called Nigel. Or Nige. The text is rejected as "Inappropriate". It's not the first example of bizarre censorship from Apple. The company's online music kiosk lumped Miles Davis in with gangsta rappers by preventing browsers from seeing the full title of his 70s classic Bitches Brew. But there's good news if you're a pervert. You can proudly engrave your iPod with the words "Paedophile" or "Nonce" - positive discrimination, perhaps? - while "Mofo", "Bumwipe" and "Arse Candle" are also cheerfully accepted. Sparing you the usual "Apple declined to comment", we turned instead to the excellent Unofficial Apple Weblog, where readers confirm that racist and sexual keywords are typically banned. "Makes a lot of sense of you think about it," writes one fan, defending the policy. "If Apple allowed such words/profanity the value of their products will go down." Quite so - but popular forenames, too? Is an iPod engraved with a "Nigel" really worth less? The Nigels of the world must unite and stand firm. Or before we know it, Apple will be coming after the Kevins. ® (Thanks to reader Nigel Gamble for alerting us to this).