4th > October > 2005 Archive

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Scaling the heights of Microsoft Management

Last week Microsoft hosted the "Best of Microsoft Management summit 2005" at its UK headquarters in Thames Valley Park, marking the first time it has run such an event in the UK.
David Norfolk, 04 Oct 2005

Yahoo! follows Google into print minefield

Unlike Google, Yahoo! has set off into the book scanning minefield without detonating any explosions. But that might be because it hasn't, as yet, gone near a mine. Yahoo!'s own book scanning plans went public today with the announcement of the Open Content Alliance, of which it is a founding member. The OCA includes Adobe and HP, which will provide hardware and software licenses; and the University of California, and University of Toronto are lending their collections to be digitized. The material will be available as collections to other institutions, rather than being locked up on Yahoo's servers. The catch? Well, Yahoo! appears to be tip-toeing round the copyright controversy for now, opting to digitize works already in the public domain: on works to which copyright was never attached, or has expired. This possibly makes the OCA no more useful than the public domain collections we already have on the internet. Although the more collegiate approach contrasts sharply with Google's deal-with-it-or-else tactics - - the end result may be the same. Lock-up garage Google argues, and authors know, that being placed in the shop window that is Google can be a fillip to the copyright holder, bringing new attention to a languishing or forgotten work. Google explains that its Print service "helps you discover books, not read them online". So why are librarians and authors upset? Principally because the web giant struck deals with a few selected libraries and then embarked on the wholesale reproduction of copyright material without asking the authors. (The deals also contained a Non Disclosure Agreement preventing the libraries from revealing their terms. More here: the commercial exploitation rights belong exclusively to Google). Librarians, who want everyone to access the material, were concerned that digitization would "lock up" the data with a private corporation. Authors were even more aggrieved, and filed suit. By inviting authors to opt-out if they wanted, Google bludgeoned its way through their rights. What both parties really mean is that Google has got stuff, if not for free, then at a bargain price. Libraries had to pay for licenses or physical material: Google only pays for the scanning - which is an extremely good deal for Google. As Seth Finkelstein reminds us: "Consider that this is not Google contributing to culture. It's Google trying to supplant the publishers as the middleman business between authors and readers," he wrote. So what at first looks like a copyright issue on closer examination is really a compensation issue. Just as we've seen with music. There is no copyright crisis. Librarians already make material available through computer networks, and so see computer networks as a good thing. Authors and publishers have no objection to their works being available digitally - to a wider audience - so long as it doesn't mean the wholesale destruction of value. There are few problems of this nature that can't be solved by the happy sound of coins rolling across a table. So at some stage the new would-be gatekeepers such as Google and Yahoo! will do the decent thing and pay for licenses to use the content, along with a coherent compensation model for the material. A digital license for all of us to use this material, would of course be better value - and avoid the risk of a Google tomorrow slipping into the role of a Time Warner today. Both gatekeepers like to claim they're doing their bit for global harmony - but both are for-profit private corporations. You should be careful what you wish for. It might come true. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Oct 2005

Wi-Fi a basic human right, says SF Mayor

Newt Gingrich once proposed giving laptops to the homeless - at the same time as he was axing food and medical services for the poor. Now San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom has borrowed a page from his playbook. Wi-Fi is a 'fundamental right', Newsom said today at a press conference. The city wants to see an "affordable" Wi-Fi network covering the 43 hills, and 49 square miles of San Francisco, and Google is one of the bidders. With the boom-bust city $200 million in the red, Newsom wants taxpayers to contribute as little as possible for the network, estimated to cost between $8 million and $16 million. It's certainly an ambitious proposal. The city wants the network to work when a connected device is moving at 30mph, so people can use it on the bus. "Taking advantage of such a portable service would not generate a traffic hazard," the city's technology department advises us. But it may be enough to cause mass hysteria. Few San Franciscans will believe a MUNI Transit bus even capable of going at 30mph. The city isn't going to let something as trivial as technical specifications, or physics get in the way. City experts insist that 30mph Wi-Fi is possible with the 802.11b/g network it wants built - but it doesn't say that this isn't part of the spec, and requires expensive additional equipment for each moving vehicle - in this case, a runaway bus. The goal of the project isn't free Wi-Fi, according to the city's tender, but for an "affordable" service "priced lower than the non-promotional retail rate of comparable offerings on the market." Newsom says he expects a legal fight, and he'll surely get one. For 3G cellular providers a municipal network blows a hole through their prospects of making any money from data in this lucrative market. Cingular launched W-CDMA here last year, and Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS are just rolling out EVDO now. For operators who blanketed San Francisco with hotspots during the 2003 Wi-Fi bubble, a rival municipal network will mean the end of the road. For local ISPs, already facing likely extinction from the FTC's decision to allow SBC - the monopoly DSL wholesaler - from sharing its lines, there's the prospect of losing fixed broadband business to the wireless network. All face potential threats to future VoIP services too. And why should 4G network providers ever look again at a market with a monopoly incumbent? Especially if that incumbent is Google. Google already operates hotspots in Union Square, and San Francisco could be the first major conurbation to fall to GoogleNet. But Newsom relishes a legal fight, even if the odds are stacked against him. Days after his in auguration in 2004, Newsom permitted same sex marriages to take place in City Hall - fully expecting that a state court would strike it down very rapidly. However the publicity made Newsom a nationwide celebrity, and established his formerly shaky (as in non-existent) progressive credentials. Perhaps that's how we should think of his Muni Wi-Fi campaign. As a sort of gay marriage - but for bloggers. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Oct 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

HP goes a bundle with Netscape

All new HP desktops and laptops sold in the US and Canada will come with pre-installed Netscape browsers. Users will be able to choose between Netscape and Internet Explorer. The announcement harks back to the mid-90s when Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape battled for market share. But it is a battle that IE had won - it has around 90 per cent of the market with Opera, Firefox and Mozilla taking up the rest. HP said it chose Netscape because of security and its ability to use two rendering engines - IE's and Firefox's. The ink giant is still deciding what to do with browsers in other territories. The browser wars officially ended in 2003 when Microsoft paid AOL/Time Warner $750m to settle an antitrust suit. As part of the settlement AOL agreed to license Internet Explorer for seven years. The deal will presumably also benefit AOL, which paid $4.2bn for Netscape, by making it easier for users to sign up to AOL. AOL bought Time Warner for $165bn in late 2000.®
John Oates, 04 Oct 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Can writing software be a crime?

Can writing software be a crime? A recent indictment in San Diego, California indicates that the answer to that question may be yes. We all know that launching certain types of malicious code - viruses, worms, Trojans, even spyware or sending out spam - may violate the law. But on July 21, 2005 a federal grand jury in the Southern District of California indicted 25 year old Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara for writing, advertising and selling a computer program called "Loverspy," a key logging program designed to allow users to capture keystrokes of any computer onto which it is installed. The indictment raises a host of questions about the criminalization of code, and the rights of privacy for users of the Internet and computers in general.
Mark Rasch, 04 Oct 2005

Pipex gets tough with bandwidth hogs

Pipex has given its broadband punters just two weeks to rein back their net usage or face having their connection "traffic managed" during peak times. The ISP - which has more than 215,000 broadband users - sent out emails last week telling users of its plans to "manage our network during the busiest periods and to provide a fair service". While this will not affect the vast majority of its users, the ISP acknowledges that fewer than one per cent (around 1,500 people) could have their service "managed". It's given the worst bandwidth hogs a fortnight to clean up their act. If they fail to make the necessary changes then Pipex plans to introduce "traffic managing for the tiny minority of customers who have the greatest detrimental effect on other users of the network". In practical terms, Pipex wants these users to "simply schedule prolonged, large scale downloading activity to off-peak hours, when other customers are less likely to be using the network". In a statement Pipex told us that the changes were "absolutely necessary to help us meet the challenge of managing our network during peak periods". "The reason that we've had to implement traffic management is that a very small percentage of heavy users were having an extremely detrimental effect on other customers' connections. "We have notified these heavy users and given them the opportunity to adjust their usage pattern to the shared nature of ADSL broadband. If they do not adapt their usage, their connections are subsequently traffic managed," it said. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Oct 2005
graph up

Toshiba asks US to ban Hynix Flash imports

Toshiba has taken its patent violation claim against Hynix to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), asking the organisation to block the import of allegedly infringing NAND Flash - the kind of memory found in MP3 players like the iPod Nano - products into the US. The complaint, noted in an Associated Press report, follows legal action brought by Toshiba against Hynix almost a year ago in the Japanese and US courts. A lawsuit filed with the Tokyo District Court alleges Hynix wilfully infringed three of Toshiba's NAND Flash patents. The Japanese company wants the court to force Hynix to cough up damages for the transgression. A second suit, filed in the US District Court for Northern Texas, alleges infringement of four NAND patents and three others relating to DRAM. Both cases arise out of failed negotiations between the two companies over the extension of an August 1996 semiconductor intellectual property cross-licensing deal. That agreement expired on 31 December 2002. Last Friday, Hynix unveiled an aggressive NAND Flash roadmap which is set to see the company sample 70nm 16Gb (2GB) chips next month. Samsung is driving NAND Flash development too, having announced plans to ship 50nm 16Gb chips toward the end of 2006. Samsung is believed to be Apple's key Flash supplier. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2005

Finnish copyright protestors to lay siege to MPs

Opponents of Finland's proposed copyright laws are hoping for a good turnout today for a demonstration outside Parliament. Protestors are calling for the law's opponents to be outside the Helsinki Parliament building at 13.00 Finnish time. Along with protestors, organisers want members of parliament and the media to come along to discuss the changed law. Finland, home of Nokia and Linux, is set to impose swingeing controls on consumers' rights to copy media. After initial confusion it appears the new law would punish consumers for making copies of media for personal use, if they bypassed DRM restrictions to do so. It has also emerged that Jukka Liedes, one of the officials behind the law, is a director of a subsidiary of Gramex - Finland's equivalent of the RIAA. Register reader Hannu Rajaniemi explained that lack of consumer rights is not the only problem with the law: "It also contains a section forbidding "organised debate" of DRM techniques and demands that ISPs obtain a license to make temporary copies of computer programs. There are also issues with playing DVDs under Linux as it usually involves libraries designed for DRM breaking." The law would have passed without much public discussion until the parliament got stuck debating royalties on church music. This led to some media debate about the changes but MPs accused Electronic Frontier Finland of organising an email campaign to push the issue further up the agenda. Protestors want the existing law thrown out and rewritten from scratch with more attention paid to consumers' rights. More details from the press release here.®
John Oates, 04 Oct 2005
For Sale sign detail

AMD quietly unveils ML-42 mobile CPU

AMD has updated its price list to include the Turion 64 ML-42 mobile chip. The processor is one of the 35W Turions, and is thought to be clocked at 2.4GHz and contain 1MB of L2 cache, though as yet AMD has not posted the chip's specifications to confirm these figures. The ML-42 is one of a number of new Turions forecast on AMD roadmaps revealed in July this year. With the ML-42 now out the door, we're next scheduled to see the ML-44 in Q4, followed by the MT-42 in Q1 2006. Later next year, AMD will offer dual-core Turions based on the upcoming 'Taylor' core. AMD last upgraded the Turion line in August, adding the 25W MT-37 and MT-40 to the mobile CPU line-up. The ML-42 costs $525 in batches of 1,000 processors. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2005

Space scientists seek sprites, elves and jets

European space scientists are planning to put special cameras on board the International Space Station (ISS) to take a closer look at the phenomenon of giant lightning. The different types of giant lightning go by exotic names: red sprites, blue jets and elves. Instead of striking downwards, from the clouds to the ground, it flashes upwards, with some discharges being so large that they reach the border between the atmosphere and space. Little is known about the giant lightning flashes, mainly because they are all but invisible from the ground. One hypothesis is that they actually alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere, thus playing a role in ozone depletion and the climate on Earth. "The question is how are these giant flashes of lightning created and how often do they take place", says senior scientist Torben Neubert, head of the project at Danish National Space Centre. "We need to understand the natural processes which influence the atmosphere and this can help us decide which changes in the climate are man-made." To find out, the European Space Agency (ESA) has asked Danish researchers to study a package of instruments called Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor. These are designed to operate from the ISS, and will provide data on how giant lightning affects the atmosphere. The space shuttle Columbia was gathering data on the flashes during its last mission. Some scientists suggest that the shuttle was actually struck by a huge upwards flash of lightning on re-entering the atmosphere, and that this was the cause of its destruction. NASA does estimate that on average one in a hundred shuttle missions would be affected by the electrical phenomenon, but says that it was not the cause of Columbia's break-up. ESA says it is still to early to say when the cameras will actually be deployed. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2005
graph up

Zombie bots clog internal networks

A significant chunk (12 per cent) of all scanning attacks found on a broadband service provider's network are launched from the machines of its own subscribers. That's according to a study by traffic management firm Sandvine which says its findings dispel the idea the broadband security involves only policing the borders between external and internal networks. Subscribers need to be protected from each other as well as external malicious hosts, it concludes. Most of these "internal attackers" are likely unsuspecting victims themselves, unwitting hosts to malware infections that turn their Windows PCs into zombie drones under the control of hackers. An infected subscriber often reports performance degradations and other problems to the help desk, oblivious to the real reason why their computer seems sluggish or is behaving strangely. All the while his (it's nearly always blokes who get their machine infected by viruses) machine is searching for other vulnerable hosts. "If the enemy is already loose within the gates, it doesn’t matter how high the walls are," said Dave Caputo, president and Chief exec of Sandvine. Caputo argues strong network-edge and anti-virus defences are only one necessary part of defending against internet attacks. Naturally Sandvine is at hand to bridge this defensive gap with its anomaly detection and traffic management software. Sandvine study is based on networks data gathered across a sample of its broadband service provider customers. ®
John Leyden, 04 Oct 2005

UK online ad market spend sets new record

Spending on online advertising in the UK looks set to top £1bn in the UK for the first time, fuelled by increased use of broadband. In the first six months of the year internet advertising expenditure hit £490.8m - up 62 per cent compared to the same time last year - while for the year to June ad spend was £865m. According to the latest study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) this makes it "a near certainty that online will break the £1bn barrier by the end of 2005." The growth in online ad spending has even exceeded the targets set by the IAB, leapfrogging spending on outdoor ads. Guy Phillipson, chief exec of the IAB, said: "These results have surpassed our expectations. At the end of 2004 the IAB predicted online would overtake outdoor by mid-2006 and we've beaten this target. Now the internet looks certain to be a £1bn medium in 2005." Analysts reckon broadband is being "a leading contributing factor of the record breaking figures" because it has fuelled internet consumption and in turn attracted a greater share of advertisers' spend". ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Oct 2005
DVD it in many colours

Google and Sun: press conference at six

Google and Sun are holding a joint press conference this evening to head off an orgy of speculation not seen since Ginger/Segway threatened to overload speculation networks earlier this century. Top of the charts this lunchtime are suggestions that the two could be collaborating to distribute Sun's Star Office - the company's version of OpenOffice. Or Google could be launching its own version of StarOffice - an actual Google office suite. Google's move into providing applications like Gmail and Google Earth has prompted talk that it could take the final step and offer an Office suite. Microsoft-haters have long predicted, or hoped, that Google would go after Microsoft's core business - desktop applications. Sun could help by providing StarOffice and by helping with corporate sales. But that's not all the speculation available. Google could be launching its own operating system based on Sun's Solaris or Java. More on this theory at eWeek here. Or Google could be buying some Sun servers. Or, pay attention at the back, Google could be buying Sun servers to run its proposed Wi-Fi network in San Francisco. Google is bidding to provide Wi-Fi access across San Francisco - it is one of ten bidders but the only one offering the service for free. What else could the two be planning? Please get your speculation in, to the usual address, before 6.30pm UK time. Notice of the press conference, and a link to the webcast at 6.30, is here. It will be attended by Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun, and Eric Schmidt, president and CEO of Google, and former CTO of Sun. ®
John Oates, 04 Oct 2005

Americans joined at the hip to tech

The average US citizen spends an astounding - or alarming, or both - nine hours a day in front of the TV, surfing the internet or jabbering away into his or her mobile, research from Indiana's Ball State University has shown. However, none of these is apparently enough for-tech addicted Americans, who spend 30 per cent of this "media time" on more than one device simultaneously - presumably scouring eBay for a second-hand PS2 while watching a TV ad for how the latest mobile phone will irrevocably change your life for the better. The question raised by this addiction to interfacing with technology is, according to the Ball State's Professor Bob Papper: "What does this mean for society?" A good question, which he then fails to answer, except to note to AFP: "The average person spends about nine hours per day using some type of media, which is arguably in excess of anything we would have envisaged 10 years ago," adding the internet was fast challenging TV's hegemony as the No.1 gateway to the world. "When we combine time spent on the web, using email, instant messaging and software such as word processing, the computer eclipses all other media with the single exception of television," he noted. Still, there are some moderately interesting factoids to be gleaned from the research, including the revelation that "18 to 24-year-olds spend less time online than any other age group except for the over 65s". The apparent conclusion of this is that it "gives the lie to the idea that young adults are the most computer literate", which would be true were it not a fact that Formula One world champ Fernando Alonso probably spends less time behind the wheel of a vehicle than the average long-distance lorry driver. You get the idea. In the end, the Ball State probe does little more than confirm what the well-informed individual already realises - that the world is mad for tech and information and God alone knows where it's all leading. Well, one thing he does know: the survey's finding that heaviest web and mobile phone traffic is on Fridays will inevitably attract the interest of advertisers keen to tap into this pre-weekend market. Ball State research team member, Mike Bloxham confirmed: "If media usage increases on Fridays based on the assumption that people are planning social activities, then this would be potentially the best day to advertise movies, drink and food specials and other products." Marvellous. The Ball State survey probed 400 people over several months recording 5,000 hours of media use on 15 different media and devices including TV, books, magazines, mobile phones, the internet, IM and email. ®
Lester Haines, 04 Oct 2005
chart

Disabled woman sues RIAA

Justice can sometimes be poetic: the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has sued 14,800 people for using peer-to-peer networks, is itself being sued. An Oregon woman is using anti-gangster RICO laws to countersue the organisation which spends its time suing individual file sharers. She denies ever having downloaded or distributed music and accuses the organisation of trespass - by secretly snooping into her computer. According to documents filed with the Oregon court Tanya Andersen, a 42-year old single mother, was accused of downloading gangster rap at 4.24am using the user name gotenkito. The document notes: "Ms Andersen does not like 'gangster rap' music, does not recognise the name 'gotenkito', is not awake at 4.24am and has never downloaded music." Ms Andersen was told she could settle with the RIAA or face expensive legal action. Count 8 of the document accuses the RIAA of breach of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisation (RICO) laws. The document says: "The record companies directed its agents to unlawfully break into private computers and engage in extreme acts of unlawful coercion, extortion, fraud, and other criminal conduct. The record companies and their agents stood to financially benefit from these deceptive and unlawful acts." The RIAA was sued under the same gangster laws last year. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, RICO requires the explicit threat or use of physical violence. Bootnote: An ongoing antitrust suit against the RIAA filed by grassroots webcasters needs your help. ®
John Oates, 04 Oct 2005

Katrina web scammer arrested

A Florida man has been arrested and charged with four counts of fraud after receiving $40,000 (£22,700) in donations to fund mercy flights to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. But Gary Kraser never made those flights even though he told visitors to his AirKatrina.com web site harrowing accounts of trips he had made. According to his site, he was flying in medical supplies to the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina which hit Louisiana in August. He also said he was evacuating children and others who were in a critical medical condition. But he needed cash to help fund the flights and told donors that "every dollar, every nickel, (would) go directly into the tanks of these pilots planes on their mission of mercy" and managed to raise $40,000 in just two days. In one posting on his website he wrote: "I am shaking as I write this, as I just arrived home, and just now allowed my body and mind to accept what I saw tonight... I am crying as I read this... I saw people on their roofs, that had used axes more than likely to cut through the roof, waving at us, as they thought we were Air Rescue... I saw dogs wrapped in electrical lines still alive and sparks flying from their bodies being electrocuted, as well as some people dead already. If I had a helicopter, I would be there now rather than back in FL... I'm so sorry I couldn't do more... I'm crying and hugging my dog next to me now... I will hear these screams for the rest of my life..." And in another he said: "I'm flying full loads out, and offering the empty plane on the outbound for Air Ambulance. If we didn't have the plane, I don't think the little baby would have survived... She is undergoing transplant surgery at this moment I am writing... 7 mos old, and smiling the whole way, as if she knew..." According to the FBI, this is the first Hurricane Katrina Internet charity fraud case brought by the Department of Justice. Said US Attorney Alexander Acosta in a statement: "It is simply unconscionable and intolerable that anyone would seek a personal financial benefit from the horrible human tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina." ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Oct 2005
For Sale sign detail

Albatron launches Socket 754 SLi mobo

Albatron today announced its latest AMD-oriented Socket 754, ATX motherboard, the K8NF4X-754. The board is based on Nvidia's nForce 4 4x chipset which can provide SLi if the board's two PCI Express x16 slots are suitably populated, though in SLi mode one slot drops down to x4 performance. The board also has two basic PCI connectors, and there are two DIMM slots supporting up to 2GB of 333MHz or 400MHz DDR SDRAM. The K8NF4X-754 provides support for four Serial ATA devices with RAID 0, 1 and 0+1, and four more, ATA-133 devices can be connected too. Networking comes courtesty of a 10/100Mbps Broadcom Ethernet controller, and the board also sports a Realtek AC97 audio codec and a Winbond Smart I/O part. The system logic can handle up to eight USB 2.0 ports, though the board itself has four. The rest can be added with an optional cable. The K8NF4X-754 has S/P-DIF input and output ports, line in ports and legacy connectors. The K8NF4X-754 comes with a BIOS security card which contains a copy of the BIOS ready for use should the primary BIOS become damaged. The back-up BIOS on the card can be used to fix the main BIOS code should corruption occur. The K8NF4X-754 also comes with Albatron's Dr. Speed overclocking utility and hardware monitor which, the company claims, provides "even the most entry level user" with tools to optimise system performance. Albatron did not provide pricing information. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2005

Taiwan huffs and puffs at Google Earth

Taiwan has become the latest, er, country to go whining to Google Earth - not because the entertaining online service reveals high-res pics of air bases packed with black helicopters, but because those tiresome Americans insist on calling it "a province of China". Oh dear, oh dear. A suitably indignant Taiwanese government has therefore asked Google to correct the outrage to read the Republic of China - despite the fact that, as Reuters notes, the island of 23 million souls is "recognised by only 26 states in the world and has no seat at the United Nations". Foreign ministry spokesman, Michel Lu, explained: "It is incorrect to call Taiwan a province of China because we are not. We have contacted Google to express our position and asked them to correct the description." Google has maintained a stony silence on the matter, presumably while it tries to work out a solution which will please both the Taiwanese and the hosts of the (lucrative, burgeoning, inviting) Chinese internet search business opportunity market. No doubt good sense will prevail, with Google siding firmly with Beijing and threatening to invade Taiwan if it attempts to declare itself a sovereign state while taking the intermediate measure of downgrading all existing satellite images of the island to "developing world lo-res" - a fate reserved for only the mostly lowly of nations/provinces* (delete according to political taste). ®
Lester Haines, 04 Oct 2005

MS 'quits' music licensing talks

Microsoft could be the first victim of the major record labels' attempts to force up digital music prices. According to a Wall Street Journal report today, the software giant last week pulled out of content licensing talks with all four major recording companies: EMI, Universal, Warner and Sony-BMG. The paper's unnamed sources claimed that Microsoft had stepped away from the negotiating table because the labels were seeking to impose royalty rates it considered to be too high. Curiously, the sources allege the labels wanted $6-8 per user, per month, essentially what existing subscription services already pay. Microsoft has been expected to begin offering a music subscription service alongside those already offered by the likes of Napster, Yahoo!, Virgin Digital, HMV and others. According to the WSJ sources, now that licensing talks are over, the service won't be launched. That's undoubtedly good news for the aforementioned music services, all of who have based their offerings on Microsoft technology and would suddenly find themselves competing head-to-head with the company. The news comes as Apple faces increasing pressure from the labels to put up its prices for new content and to adopt a differential pricing model that would see older, less popular songs fall in price. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2005
globalisation

Hack attack linked to annular eclipse

Are hackers affected by lunar cycles? The question arises after we were sent a screenshot of the defacement of space.com yesterday morning. The attack happened hours before an annular eclipse reached Europe. Coincidence? We think not. There's a lot of talk about zombie bots (PC infected by malware and under the control of hackers) but what of werewolves? Admittedly the defacement of space.com made no mention of lycanthropy but security vendors are always fond of talking about "silver bullet solutions" to hacker threats. There's even been a werewolf virus. This might all sound a bit thin but if college profs can get financing to do studies on gay cows then surely the links between malicious hackers and shape shifting merit closer inspection. And while they're at it the putative study might also want to consider why the major virus outbreaks of the year (Nimda, Blaster, Zotob etc.) always hit in August. We suspect virus writers getting bored during their summer holidays from school or college might be behind this one. ®
John Leyden, 04 Oct 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

World chip sales up 3.2% in August

World chip sales hit $18.6bn in August, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said today. August's total was up 3.2 per cent - an increase the SIA characterised as "sharp" - on July's $18bn, and just 1.7 per cent above the year-ago figure, $18.3bn. Those figures represent World Semiconductor Trade Statistics' three-month rolling average. Actual August 2005 sales were $18.7bn, up from $17.6bn in August 2004, the SIA said. 'Sharp' or 'small', the growth is nonetheless welcome, and the SIA remains optimistic that when the year's over, 2005's sales total will exceed 2004's. It's forecasting six per cent year-on-year growth. “While there are lingering concerns about the effects of high energy prices and the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the United States, end markets for semiconductors continue to be very strong," the organisation said. "Unit sales of personal computers are continuing to run ahead of earlier forecasts, resulting in strong increases in sales of microprocessors and DRAMs. Flash memory sales were also up sharply, reflecting robust sales of cell phones and consumer products such as MP3 players.” However, August's figures pre-date the meteorological events of September, so the real test will come in a month's time when the organisation publishes last month's sales figures. The SIA noted that overall capacity utilisation hit 89 per cent in Q2, up from 85 per cent in Q1, and that it expects that figure to rise again during Q3, once September's numbers are in. Year-to-date semiconductor sales through August stood at $144.4bn, the SIA said, up 5.8 per cent over the same period of 2004, when total sales amounted to $136.5bn. Month-on-month, all regions experienced sales growth, but only Asia-Pacific was able to generate a year-on-year increase, of 13 per cent - all other territories were down by 4.3-9.5 per cent. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2005
graph up

Ingram punts wireless

Ingram Micro is running a pan-European marketing campaign to encourage resellers to: "Get Mobile, Stay Connected". The campaign offers reseller education as well as sales and marketing support. It will run in 14 countries until the end of the year and aims to encourage resellers to sell mobile and wireless equipment. Ingram is offering resellers bundled offerings - a device, an email product, and a mobile connect card or data subscription - to sell.®
John Oates, 04 Oct 2005

eBay fraudster to repay £70k

A convicted eBay fraudster has been ordered to cough up £70,000 or face an extra two years behinds bars. Surrey-based key cutter and engraver Simon Hurley flogged counterfeit merchandise via the popular auction website. Investigators reckon that between March and December 2003 he flogged some 6,000 items pocketting almost £105,000. Many of the items he sold - including money clips, cigarette lighters and engraved tankards - featured the crest of Manchester United football club. In April this year Hurley pleaded guilty to a total of 16 offences. Appearing at Croydon Crown Court last Friday Hurley was sentenced to nine months and ordered to pay £8,000 costs. The Asset Recovery Agency - which works to ensure criminals do not benefit from the proceeds of crimes - also managed to get the court to order Hurley to pay back £70,000 within six months, or face a further two years in prison. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Oct 2005
channel

Microsoft to 'embrace' open source

When Microsoft's global head of platform strategy (a job title otherwise known as Chief Linux Slayer) says he wants the company to embrace open source, you could be forgiven for wondering if he is perhaps tiring of the executive life, and trying to get himself dismissed from his post. But in fact this is Microsoft's latest approach to the niggling challenge (opportunity?) presented by Linux and open source software: public humility. Call him what you want, but Martin Taylor says the approach is working, and that it is one of the reasons the debate raging around Linux vs. Microsoft is probably quieter today than it was two years ago. Whether you accept that the debate has lost any of its fire is another question entirely. Looking back, Taylor says that in the past Microsoft has been "a bit emotional" in its response to Linux and open source, but that this was because it didn't really understand: "So we hired some Linux people to, among other things, give us a connection to the OS community. We'd rather embrace open source, because we'd rather see open source applications running on Windows than running on Linux," he explains. "And when people don't choose Microsoft, we want to know why." Brian Green, who labours under the job title "director of solutions management" at Novell, says he finds it "really interesting" that Microsoft is learning about Linux. "But remember, to really maintain that connection with the open source community, you have to contribute code," he notes. Still, Taylor says the Microsoft message about total cost of ownership is getting through, and that companies running Linux are beginning to re-evaluate their decisions. "People engage with Linux for a reason, whether it be a philosophical one, or just about saving money," Taylor says. "But now we are seeing lots of people saying "Is this the ROI (return on investment) or function that we were expecting?" The software works, but it takes people and resources to run. More people are having that thought." Novell's Green conceded that some people are indeed moving from Linux to Windows, and acknowledges that very few people are migrating their desktops from XPSP2 to Linux. But adds that in the enterprise market, plenty of people are still migrating to Linux, from a variety of platforms. "Linux is still the fastest growing operating system. Microsoft is still growing too, but Linux is winning in a lot of the areas that Microsoft really wanted to get into, such as data centres," he notes. "More generally, where the migration is from Unix to Linux, is probably where Linux is hurting Microsoft the most." Both Green and Taylor agree that what enterprises want is managed, supported solutions. Naturally, they disagree about what this actually means in practice. "With Linux there is a trade off: support for a managed distribution, or go it alone and do it yourself," says Taylor. He says that no company can support an infinite number of configurations, and that arguably, Microsoft is better placed to support its own code than either Novell or Red Hat is to support Linux, because it actually wrote it all. In addition, as Novell and RedHat work to differentiate themselves from each other, each will add packages on top of the Linux distribution, some of them might even be based on proprietary code. "Linux won't be Linux anymore," he says. But Green sees it differently. "There are those businesses that want the total flexibility of Fedora, or the OpenSUSE distribution. But most enterprises want support so that they can manage their risk. "Very few would modify the code just because they could, and if they did, they'd do it hand in hand with the vendor. That modified code often goes back into the project." At the end of our conversation with Green, he quipped: "As far as Microsoft's defensive posture towards Linux goes, long may it continue. It's great publicity for Linux." In the interests of fairness, we'll leave you with a thought from Microsoft's Taylor: "Hopefully we are not above learning. We didn't give people as much access to our code three years ago as we do now. We are trying to be more transparent and to understand our customers more. MS needs to learn if it is to grow and evolve." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2005

Mobile phone socks pull up in UK

We always thought Apple's iPod Socks were a silly idea, but the recent controversy over scratched Nano screens may persuade the case-less to reconsider investing in something soft to cushion their favourite portable music player's display. And now mobile phone owners similarly concerned about grazing their handsets can do the same. Australian operation LaRoo has begun selling its Mocks mobile phone socks in the UK, having inked a sales deal with handset retail giant Carphone Warehouse. TopShop on London's Oxford Street has them too, we're told. Mocks, like iPod Socks, are colourfully knitted slip cases. Where Apple's versions are available only in the rainbow hues chosen for the original Apple logo, Mocks are available in a range of 30-odd picture designs. Apple sells its Socks for the princely sum of £19 for six, or £3.17 apiece. CW is selling Mocks for £5 a throw. Or should that be pull. Anyway, with Winter approaching, Mocks and/or Socks could make the ideal prezzy for anyone with a chilly wil... er... MP3 player. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2005
arrow pointing up

IBM pumps Unix line full of Power5+

IBM is aiming low with its highest-end processor to date. The company today kicked off the release of the Power5+ chip by announcing three new systems that slot into the low-end of its Unix server line, a new workstation and a server aimed at researchers. The lower-end servers coupled with a surprisingly slow introductory Power5+ speed may bother some customers who were looking for IBM to really flex its computing muscle in the near-term. Customers have long expected the Power5+ follow on to the Power5 chip currently sitting in IBM's Unix server line. Many, however, looked for the chip to debut at speeds somewhere between 2.0GHz and 3.0GHz. Instead, IBM has only delivered a 1.9GHz chip. That speed matches the 1.9GHz Power5 processors available in some of IBM's Unix gear today. While hardware makers across the board have started to shy away from promoting GHz as a crucial measure, IBM's processor launch takes this strategy to a new level. Instead of focusing on the Power5+'s raw speed, IBM would prefer that customers pay attention to the 90-nanometer, as opposed to 130-nanometer, process used to build the chip. This means the Power5+ has a smaller size than the regular Power5 and is more energy efficient. And, in due course, the Power5+ will prove to be a faster chip as well. IBM has vowed to bring the dual-core processor to its midrange and high-end systems sometime next year and likely at a higher clock rate. In the meantime, some customers may be impressed by IBM's new fleet of low-end and Express systems aimed at customers hoping to get pretty flashy kit at a discount. Most notably, IBM has unveiled the System p5 550Q, which is effectively an 8-way server. The box will hold two of IBM's new "quad core modules" that package pairs of the Power5+ chips together. With two of the modules and multi-threading, the server can churn through 16 software threads. Starting in mid-October, customers can order this box with 1.5GHz Power5+ chips. On the lower-end is the p5 520, which is a two-way server (a single dual-core chip) that runs on the 1.9GHz Power5+ chip. IBM pitches it as a solid database server or a wondrous Java application server. Its new big brother is the p5 550 that ships with either one or two of the Power5+ chips running at 1.9GHz as well. This system is clearly meant to handle larger software workloads. For the easily impressed, IBM also announced the p5 505, which is a 1U box that runs on 1.5GHz and 1.65GHz versions of the old Power5 chip. All of the servers will run IBM's AIX version of Unix or Linux operating systems from Red Hat and Novell and ship later this month. A little off the beaten path, IBM also showed the new IntelliStation Power 285 workstation and the 16-way p5 575 server. The Power 285 marks IBM's first major Unix workstation revamp in many months. It will ship with one of the Power5+ chips. For serious computing loads, IBM put out the p5 575, which is billed as a favorite of the supercomputer crowd. In the past, customers could buy the server with eight 1.9GHz Power5 chips, but they'll now have access to sixteen 1.5GHz Power5+ chips in the same 2U space. IBM expects customers will see up to 50 per cent better overall performance with the revamped hardware. Along with the new systems, IBM touted a software package called the Integrated Virtualization Manager (ILM). This management application is meant to simplify the way administrators work with partitions. It contains the fabled wizards and web-based GUIs that we've all come to know and love and can "create a MicroPartition ready for OS installation of either AIX 5L or Linux with a mere 3 clicks of the mouse." IBM has enjoyed a serious lead over rivals Sun Microsystems, HP and Intel with its dual-core Power chip. It introduced the dual-core Power4 in 2001 and has watched as Sun and HP only recently equipped their Unix servers with dual-core parts. In addition, a few dozen businesses out there are still waiting for Intel to prove it has a dual-core Itanium ready. Meanwhile, the Power5+ marks IBM's fourth generation dual-core effort. Still, of all IBM's recent chip launches, this must rank near the bottom. IBM did not wow with speed or super-sized gear. Instead it took the much more humble approach of asking customers to focus on lower power consumption and more chips in less space. IBM will still blow the competition away on countless benchmarks, but it has lost a bit of the luster that has been following its Unix line.®
Ashlee Vance, 04 Oct 2005

The iPod Nano: scratchy, but slinky and you love 'em

LettersLetters An iPod special, today, in recognition of the thousands of words you have sent us with your stories about scratched screens, the wonder and horror of using a mobile phone instead of an iPod to listen to your music, and your thoughts on just how much it costs to build an iPod Nano. Without further ado, let us move to the customer complaints about how easily scratches appear on the lovely shiny cases of new iPod Nanos. I can understand that some people have had issue with scratched iPod nanos, but I can only think they are careless users. My nano has been used virtually everyday, been in many pockets, etc and it is not marked at all. People need to accept that you cannot treat these things like loose change. At £179 I like to think I look after my nano by not putting it in a pocket with my keys, etc. I have wiped, handled and used my iPod nano just the same as all the others I have owned, and yes it will get marked and damaged, it is to be expected. What these people really need to ask is 'What did I do to cause the damage'? A mark will not appear on the iPod surface or screen with no contact from something, it's not magic, it's common sense. Ian Parkinson Charles notes: "Yup, but with millions expected to sell, expect millions of careless users. Plus, I've got another iPod which I've abused pretty well, but it hasn't shown the same scratchiness." Wonder if anyone's tried taking their Nano to Vision Express, and asking them to put a scratch-resistant layer over the screen, as they can with (plastic) glasses lenses? Regards, Mike There is a product available called invisibleSHIELD that is supposed to make the nano scratch proof. Read more here. Just thought I would let you know. Dieter Dear Author or Arthur, You pay $200 for a device most people treat it like gold and get a nice little case for it. For the ham-handed bungling crowd perhaps they should stick to the cassette player, or whistle. iPods are not for everyone obviously some have fallen into the hands of the wrong type of people. If it is a defect then they just won the lottery. It's value as a collectors item in 20 years will make it well worth the investment. Even Apples garbage has great value :0-) Interesting quote from Mr Rubenstien Where did you get that? When the point was put to the head of Apple's iPod division, Jon Rubenstein - who in the past oversaw the development of the Titanium PowerBook - the one that killed off Wi-Fi reception, because metal cages do that - he replied: "Nah, you don't really think that? It's made of the hardest polycarbonate... You keep it in a pocket with your keys?" I would guess that Jon might need to get his resume in order; if he is as pathetic as this quote demonstrates. You forget to ad in the positive ie %70 of the market, a brand name stronger and more profitable than NIKE, #1 consumer of flash memory. mastery of the digital music universe. If I was a professional writer I would be careful what I write. Advertising pays your measly pay check and in the google age big brother can analyse whether they like you or not in less then a half a second. Oh and all those readers who love you.... the will forsake you in moment! Thats if they even remember your name. Good Luck In The Future, AKA Charles Arthur your style is no mystery to the machine that can ID you in less time than it takes you to draw a breath. Yours Truly. Brian Charles replies: "The point you make, about advertising, would imply that journalism should become an extension of companies' product marketing, and neither I nor The Register subscribe to that view of the world. "A wise journalist said "News is what someone, somewhere doesn't want written. Everything else is just advertising." On that basis, this story was news." I am very happy and unhappy about the article. I'm unhappy because you write the truth about the iPod Nano but happy that you DID write about it. It needs to be brought to mass media attention if we, the Nanoids, who have bought them will get a true solution for the issue. I had mine out for one day in my pocket, all by itself, and it was scratch so bad I thought it was a joke. I spent 1 hour and 50 minutes talking with 8 Apple persons ranging from a customer rep at the online store to an iPod Technical Specialist. What came of the almost 2 hour conflict? An apology and a free iPod replacement. Interesting thing to note is that after I was told I would get a replacement, the issue was "Flagged" by upper management. Stephen Er, Nanoids? Actually, polycarbonate is a fairly soft material, insofar as scratch resistance is concerned. It's known for that. It's also known for filtering out UV (I don't know which kind) and for being tough if hit by projectiles. But scratch resistance has never been a strong point. The designer must've been new to the material in portable device use. Cheers, Matthew Regarding the quote from the Apple designer in the iPod Nano scratching article... "Nah, you don't really think that? It's made of the hardest polycarbonate... You keep it in a pocket with your keys?" This annoyed me greatly. There is no such thing as "hard" polycarbonate, AKA Lexan. Polycarbonate is strong, the strongest material that has optical properties, in fact. But while it is strong, it is also soft, which is where it gets its strength, flexing rather than breaking. Hard materials tend to be very brittle, take glass for instance. Glass has a very hard, scratch-resistant surface, but shatters quite easily. Polycarbonate is great for safety goggles, but they need new lenses all the time. However, it is a terrible choice of material for this application. Gene May i suggest the headline of "iPod No-No" for any future coverage of this subject? :) Sounds very El Reg if I say so myself. Naturally, I expect a credit should it be used! :) Mat You wag, Mat. So the screen scratches, but it also cracks. Apple promises replacements to everyone with cracked screens. Still, the debate rages over the scratchability of the cases, threatening even our secret stockpile of diamonds (you'll have to read the article): I can't believe people haven't worked out what's going on. It's because the black model is by far more popular than the white one, and the black glossy finish shows scratches much more than the white one. Go into an Apple Store and look at the two side by side - all the store models are pretty scratched - and the black units look much worse. As black nano sales overwhelmingly outnumber white units, and apart from the U2 ipod there's never been a been a black iPod, the higher visibility of the scratches on black has never been a matter for complaint before. Now that they're in circulation in massive numbers, people think that they scratch easier simply because the scratches are more immediately obvious. People need to get a life and stop moaning. Anyone who doesn't protect a £150 gadget and just throws it in their pocket has no grounds for complaint. I just bought these - which are perfect for the job: www.theinvisibleshield.com invisible scratch-proof coating. Works wonderfully, and you can't scratch the nan through it if you try. Apple may be indirectly at fault, for not making cases immediately available when they launched the product, but people should treat their possessions more carefully. Julian El Reg's secret store of diamonds can remain safe. I can confirm to you that diamonds do indeed shatter even though you can scratch glass with them. When we were kids, my mate Gaz found a shiny stone on the floor, and after we'd spent several days happily graffitti-ing the school windows, he got into an argument with another lad about whether or not it was a diamond. To prove it, he placed it on an anvil in the machine room and hit it with a big hammer. It smashed to powder, much to his surprise. Unlike me, Gaz didn't take physics. Oh well. Justin I'm slightly surprised that no-one yet seems to have pointed out that, in the UK at least, goods have to be of merchantable quality and suitable for the purpose for which they are purchased. i.e. if the screen of your new iPod tuns out to break ridiculously easily then you are entitled to go to the person you bought it from and get a refund, replacement or repair whether or not the thing is covered by a warranty. Obviously, I'm not qualified to give legal advice so you should check the facts but the consumers' association should be able to help you out there... http://www.which.co.uk Geoff I bet they put the window in backwards. Polycarbonate is a tough material but not hard. To overcome this they put a hard coat on it, which is usually only on one side. When working with this the product the only way to tell the 2 sides apart is the colour of the pre-mask, (plastic coating protector). If your premask was clear then they put in wrong as the blue premask is usually the hardcoat side? (This is if the window was Lexan product) Any way to open it and flip the window? Mark Don't try this at home, kids... Next, it emerged that cracking up and scratchiness were not the only things to threaten iPods. MP3s play on mobile phones too, y'know. Opinion, it is fair to say, is divided on this one: My last 4 phones have had the capacity to play MP3's ever since the seimens phone i have 4 years ago could store about 6 songs on it. I used to listen to my 6 songs often until i needed to make a call and discovered my battery was flat. Sames goes for other phones that i have the ability to play music on, i own a C500 now and would not dream of listening to music on it for the same reason. My ipod is great, holds my entire CD collection, the battery will easily last me a few days and is easy to use. When i want to make a phone call my phone battery is always full. So years into the future when mobiles have batteries that last a month and all have 200G flash memory, will we use them for watching Movies and listening to music? If some scroat nicks my phone today it is a pain, i lose my numbers and am without a phone for a day or two. Can i imagine losing not just my phone and numbers but my entire music and movie collection as well would be a very bad day, Not a chance. The winners of the personal technology race are going to be Handbag manufacturers, 2006 is going to be the year of the Manbag, you wait and see! Murphy I already use a converged device and certainly won't be carrying a separate camera, MP3 juke box, phone, PDA etc ever again. It's called a SE 910i. I have 1Gb of storage for my mp3, ogg and mp4 videos on removable memory, which is more than enough for at least 4-5 days of listening / viewing without repetition on my commute. Every day on the tube on my commute in from Wimbledon to the City I listen to a new album I haven't heard before. On the way home I tend to watch a film (The Island is my current viewing item - shame it's not a good film though). I don't really care that an Archos might have a slightly better screen or that an ipod can fit more music on it. The 910i has reached the tipping point where it does things well enough to outweigh the hassle factor of carrying separate devices. It's not a question of if /when converged devices are good enough, they already are. What it needs for true mass market adoption is the service / user wrap to go with it so people who don't own a PC and aren't a tech head like me, can listen to their favourite tune on the phone in 3 clicks max.... Chris No, I don't want a coffee-making toaster - for a couple of simple reasons... My kitchen (though small) is easily big enough to contain both, and besides they have to do different things. My coffee pot has to be leak-proof, for starters, which isn't a huge concern for my toaster. When it comes to the piles of stuff I carry around with me however, things are different... Within limits, if one bit of kit can do the job of two, then one is better. Having a clock on my mobile phone means that I no longer wear a watch. (Glancing around the office, it seems that I'm not the only one to have made this choice.) There are limits, of course. The replacement has to have sufficient functionality, which is why my mobile doesn't double as a diary - that interface is just too horrible to try to use. It's also the reason why I do have a digital camera, despite the fact that my phone can take photos. The phone simply can't deliver the same quality as even a cheap digital camera. Would I trade in my MP3 player if my phone could do the same job? Obviously, yes. But they'll have to give me a phone with at least a gigabyte of storage, a decent interface to my PC (the music industry is barking up the wrong tree - and not for the first time - if it thinks that I'm going to start paying to download dozens of tracks to a mobile), a half-decent way to navigate through the music stored on it, a radio, and decent battery life. The battery life seems possible, and given the size of the screen and the number of keys available, the interface could probably be better and more intuitive on a phone than it is on my current MP3 player. Storage is still a problem, and one that Ed Zander apparently doesn't get. Bottom line? The Motorola ROKR looks like a horrible compromise that isn't going to suit anyone. But they should keep working on it. If you still have doubts, check out how many people around you, and especially those under 35, still wear a wrist-watch. David I recently got a fancy new phone, with camera and MP3 player built in. Now I also have a decent digital camera, (well, it was a couple of years ago). It's better than anything a 'phone can offer and I took it with me on holiday this year. But I don't carry it with me all the time. If I'm out somewhere and see something I want to snap - a beautiful view perhaps, or something more practical like photos of an accident scene - the camera in my 'phone is ideal because it's always there. It's taking the place not of "proper" cameras but of the disposable ones you keep in the glove box just in case. It's the same with music players. Like many people, I have a large number of CDs. For convenience I'll eventually rip them to my PC; some folk might choose to use an iPod or some hard disk-based MP3 player. For music on the move - cycling to work or on public transport - I bought a little flash-memory MP3 player; every now and then I rotate the CDs I've got on it. But if my 'phone offers the same ability, in pretty much the same size, why *would* I want to carry both? Simon And lastly, a researcher reckons the build cost of an iPod Nano is somewhere around the $100 mark. But, you cry, this doesn't mean Apple is pocketing all the change: They might have missed some of the costs associated with building the nano: 1) PCB assembly, placement per part adds up quickly. 2) shipping, warehousing etc.. 3) Packaging. etc... On a complex consumer product like the nano having actual component cost of 50%+ of the retail price is actually very good. The nano probably uses lead free solder too, which means the yield won't be close to 100%. Nic Think you are printing a lot miss information about the iPod build costs. I worked as a developer in a number of electronics companies, including infamous Amstrad. Just to point out, the BOM cost is normally around 1/3 of the end product cost to the consumer. Most of the the price of a consumer electronics product goes in the development costs, business running costs, retailer, shipping, tax etc. Think is worth pointing this out to your readers. Arijit Has anyone considered the cost of the molds and plastic to make the case and other components? All this hype, but how about the cost and profit margin in a Coke, or how about a car? Why is it in everybody's interest to slam Apple? Bob This is the second time I've read reports about an iSuppli analysis. The first was their breakdown of the Mac mini. The way you present the data is annoying as it makes no mention of the costs of design and development, the tooling up costs, freight, packaging, promotion and the administration of the company that puts all this together. You just throw in a comment about Apple's "whopping" base margin as though they have no other costs at all and you make it sound like they are a bunch of extortionists when you would prefer they were a non-profit organisation. If the margin is so vast then there is a great opportunity here for you to jump in and start making a competitor yourself. If you can't manage that then perhaps the story is to buy Apple shares. There is no story here at all. "Company makes profit." That's it. Please stop beating up these iSuppli things as though you are Woodward or Bernstein uncovering shocking corruption. Regards Tim Do take into account the retailer's margin as well... The labor cost hardly took into account the facilities associated costs as well as the machinery to assemble / weld components. All in all, Apple's take on the item is probably considerably lessened in relation to you report. Frank "Apple's base margin is a whopping $100.82. You can probably add a little more for software development " -and research, hardware development, design, shipping, marketing, support and a host of other overhead costs. Not to mention the cut retailers want (even running the Apple Store isn't free). I even think they left of the cost of the manufacturing plants and only included what it costs to keep them running once they're running. Just like I said in response to the $40 to manufacture Intel processors story, that's only one piece of the story. Apple (like Intel) has to make up all those other costs before they see even $1 in profit. Michael Wow, you mean a business is profiting from their product!! My Goodness! What is this world coming to? So is this going to be the new thing now? Researching companies on how much they are profiting on their product. We are really going to a capitalism witch hunt? Ridiculous. If you don't agree with how much a company charges...DON'T BUY THE PRODUCT!!! It's that simple. Here's a newsflash you may want to research: Do you think a ToyotaCorolla really costs $24,000 to make? Freakin' half-thinks. Mike your headline 'ipod nano costs $100 to make' is ridiculous unless you think labor costs no money. itunes software doesn't fall out of the sky, nor do the servers or bandwidth required to make it run. you socialist europeans really should place more value on labor and not claim the price of something is merely the cost of materials. have you never read das kapital? Don B Goodness gracious, Tony. What manufacturer have you ever heard of collecting the entire retail price markup for ithself? The components and labour add up to almost $100, and the device retails for $199, okay. Apple's marginwould be the difference between the cost and its wholesale selling price, not retail. Yes, Apple sells a lot of kit direct and through their Apple Stores, but don't forget the iPod is a consumer device available from the Best Buys, Wal-Marts, and Costcos of the world. I would guess that the sell-through volumes at those outfits are orders of magnitude higher than what Apple shifts sans middleman -- reducing their margin somewhat from the "whopping $100.82" you quote. The point really is with that kind of pricing headroom, Apple has several turns of the screw available against its struggling digital music competitors. Unless the screen scratch trauma torpedoes it (I believe the replaced mini was so popular because it was so scratch-resistant), the Nano is Apple's BFG in that market. Derek Anyone else Apple'd out? Good. Let's reconvene on Friday for letters on all the subjects in the universe, except iPods. Nano, or otherwise. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2005

Sun could be next exhibit at Computer History Museum

With just a couple hours to go before the Sun and Google press conference, industry speculation continues to run hot and heavy around what the two companies might reveal. As usual, however, El Reg has outclassed rival publications and moved past the gossip to nail what will be announced. Many reckon Sun and Google have some kind of OpenOffice web-based suite planned to knock Microsoft off its revenue high horse. Or maybe they'll sell numerous software packages via Google's strong brand. Others have even suggested that Google may purchase an enormous fleet of Sun's new Opteron-based servers. And, we believe, there is some truth in that last, speculative nugget. Sun co-founder and designer of the new Opteron servers Andy Bechtolsheim was one of the first investors in Google. And, as a reward for Bechtolsheim's generosity, the Google founders have come up with a grand plan, we predict. Yes, El Reg's crack team of futurologists forecast that at the Computer History Museum press conference today, Google CEO Eric Schmidt will reveal that his online advertising and search company has bought Sun and donated it to the museum. We expect the wraps will come off on a lavish Google-funded Sun diorama and interactive Flash video that will make up the "Sun Won't Rise Tomorrow: The last solar headline cliche" exhibit. What's the betting Schmidt even went so far as to grease the curator's palm with a cool $100m to make sure that the Sun booth got a prime spot next to Apple's Newton. Stay tuned for more details. ®
Ashlee Vance, 04 Oct 2005
cloud

Kaspersky in heap-based buffer overflow vuln

Users of Kaspersky anti-virus were warned this week of a potentially serious security vulnerability. The bug - unearthed by security researcher Alex Wheeler - involves a heap-based buffer overflow vulnerability related to the processing of malformed CAB archives. This security defect might be exploited to allows arbitrary code execution when a malicious CAB archive is scanned, thereby compromising vulnerable systems. Kaspersky version 5.0 users are confirmed to be at risk. Other versions - including security products that incorporate Kasperky's anti-virus scanning technology - might also be affected. However, this latter risk is unlikely to be much of a problem since most of Kasperky's security partners use older versions of the firm anti-virus engine that are immune from the defect. Likewise, individual users of Kaspersky version 4.5 are not at risk. Kaspersky is keen to calm possible security concerns. "No attempts to create and distribute [CAB vulnerability] exploits have been recorded to date," it said. Kaspersky has released a package of signatures that detect possible exploits of the vulnerability as a workaround. A more comprehensive fix due to be rolled out through the Russian developer's regular update mechanism on 5 October. Anti-virus products designed to keep users safe from virus attacks have themselves recently become an increasing source of security bugs. In recent months security vendor ISS has issued alerts over similar but distinct vulnerabilities in various security packages from Symantec, involving the processing of UPX compressed files; and anti-virus products from F-Secure and Trend Micro, both involving the handling of ARJ archive files. ISS has also unearthed a glitch with McAfee security software involving the processing of LHA files, while Wheeler found a glitch with anti-virus products from UK developer Sophos in July. ®
John Leyden, 04 Oct 2005

Earthlink wins Philly Wi-Fi gig

ISP Earthlink has won the contract to provide a citywide Wi-Fi network for the city of Philadelphia, beating out Hewlett Packard at the final stage of the municipal beauty contest. Earthlink will provide both a retail service to city residents - costing $10 to $20 a month, depending on household income - and resell a higher speed wholesale to other operators. Earthlink won its bid in part because it will share 'revenue' with a city non-profit. Or whatever revenue Earthlink can generate: the Wi-Fi business to date may charitably be described as a 'non profit' sector. At first, internet utopians insisted that a huge, untapped market of mobile users would create a thriving and profitable hotspot market. But they grossly overestimated the numbers, and underestimated the demand for data in blue collar and rural areas: some hotspots operated by T-Mobile saw just one or two connections a month, others none at all. Then Wi-Fi lobbyists argued that hotspots would drive up revenue indirectly in places like cafes and restaurants. That, again, foundered on lack of demand and the 'café squatter' problem. So attention turned to lobbying cities to provide the wireless internet access at little or no cost. Philly's ambitious plan - the city covers 135 square miles - has had a bumpy ride so far. A Pennsylvania statute forbids municipalities from offering a paid internet service where it competes with private offerings. In a controversial move, telco Verizon which has lobbied long and hard against muni Wi-Fi, struck a deal with Philly to let the city's Wi-Fi network proceed. Earthlink is also bidding to run San Francisco's smaller but more topographically challenging citywide network. It's one of over 20 bidders, including Cingular and Google. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Oct 2005
fingers pointing at man

Sun and Google tool around together

Despite what Google-intoxicated hacks would have you believe, Sun and the search engine company have not created a stunning anti-Microsoft alliance. They have not teamed to end Office's dominance. They haven't done vast amounts of business together. No, Sun and Google have paired to promote the Google toolbar as an option when users download Java. Tremble not, Redmond.
Ashlee Vance, 04 Oct 2005

The Hollywood crisis that isn't

AnalysisAnalysis Barely a week has gone by without reports of Hollywood's great box office slump of 2005. So our thanks go to screenwriter John August for pointing out that on closer examination, the 'slump' is as elusive as missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. "Every Monday brought new speculation about just what was causing the downturn, and What It Really Meant. Could the problem be the poor state of movie theaters, the growth of DVD, the price of gasoline?" observes John. "What makes this self-flagellation so annoying and unwarranted is that the 'box office slump' is basically a myth," he points out. In fact 2005's box office returns mirror 2004's very closely, and box office receipts are down just six per cent this year. One more blockbuster would have turned the slump into a boom. "Is there really an industry crisis if just one movie would eliminate it?" asks John. Of course not. But a better question is why do so many people want you to engender this panic? Because it suits them, that's why. Phony crisis Listening to our old friend Lawrence Lessig and former MPAA boss Jack Valenti debate each other on National Public Radio last week, it became clear. The dears sounded like a couple of senior citizens grumbling their way a cold day trip to Brighton Beach - but in reality the phony crisis suits them both. Representing the pigopolist lobby, Valenti wants to instil widespread panic so he can outlaw new technologies of storage and distribution. History tells us that rights holders have always profited from such new technologies, and it's a point Lessig has himself made superbly in the past. Representing the technology determinists, Lessig also wanted to tell us the sky is falling, because copyright was the real obstacle to technical innovation. The favorite narrative of today's techno-utopians goes "X is the end of Y as we know it!" (or "Z changes everything!") - it's a recurring adolescent fantasy. History tells us that copyright has always bent to accommodate the new technologies, and the social contract always engineers new compensation models. Instead, Lessig concluded with a little Hallmark Card homily to the power of creativity, citing "14 million blogs" as a testament to human ingenuity. No, really. The geek lobby sees the power of computer networks being frustrated by rights holders, and wishes those rights away. The rights lobby sees its value being eroded by the lack of new compensation models to go with new technology, and so wishes the technology away. But neither those rights, nor the technology, are going to be wished away. So a permanent war suits both lobbies. "We'll make every sample an infringement!" cry the rights holders - as if to encourage the view that looking at something is a crime. (For technophobes like Jack, that's probably true). "It's the end of creativity as we know it!" scream the nerds - encouraging the view that creativity is defined by the computer (For literalists like Larry, that's almost certainly true). But it's a very phony war. The MPAA is only too happy to play the cartoon role the techno utopians have created for them, in a narrative dominated by fear, domination and control. Like small children playing a game of ghost, they've succeeded only in frightening the bejesus out of each other. And this thoroughly dishonest debate - you could call it the artistic versus the autistic - is lopsided to begin with. It's Jack, not Larry, who has Sin City and Mean Streets. But only by taking the long view can you see how irrelevant both of their phony stances really are. Don't Panic. ® Related link Slump? [screenwriter John August] ... [more comment]
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Oct 2005

Ireland counts the cost of MIT Media Lab fiasco

The Irish government invested $40m of taxpayers' money in MIT's Media's Lab Europe - and has bugger all to show for it. A report by the Republic's public auditor-general also reveals that Media Lab executives awarded themselves large severance pay-offs when the money was running out, and refused to refund public money as the original agreement had specified. Eire's comptroller called the output of the Media Lab over five years "dismal". The Lab netted only €7m in sponsorship and saw just 24 scientific papers published. In addition, 12 patents filed by the Lab are worthless. The Lab added nothing to Ireland's education drive while it went its merry way, and after liquidation will leave the Republic with just €300,000 in assets. The European Media Lab was launched at the height of the tech bubble but closed its doors in January this year. Its output may disappoint the Irish government, but it won't surprise anyone familiar with the original MIT Media Lab. The institution was founded in the 1980s by Nicholas Negroponte as a way of relieving gullible corporations of their money. The haphazard and often whimsical "research" was scorned by real computer scientists, but succeeding in its goal of attracting attention from a gadget-happy mass media. Negroponte even funded his own tech porn publication: Wired magazine, to promote the utopian adventure. And they're still at it. This year we featured the Labs' Clocky - a shagpile-covered alarm clock that runs away from you. The only difference with MIT Media Lab Eire is that the taxpayer, rather than, private donors, were invited to sponsor the playpen. We can't improve on the Sunday Times description of the scandal, written by John Burns, which begins thus: "One of its biggest research projects was a sensor to read people’s minds. But MediaLab Europe (MLE), a project that cost the Irish taxpayer almost €40m, must have thought the Irish government was already telepathic. It refused to tell ministers how many people it employed, what they were paid, or to provide audited accounts." Ouch.®
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Oct 2005

iPod Nano vs washing machine: who wins?

With surprising regularity, Britain's Daily Mail, a mid-market tabloid, runs a heartwarming story about a puppy or kitten that has survived some awful domestic appliance encounter (trapped in the washing machine/freezer/breadmaker) and is photographed, bedraggled, in the aftermath. Everyone go "Awwww!" And now we bring you El Reg's own version, passed on (as with the Daily Mail stories) from somewhere local. In this case, MacMerc, where Jon Knee accidentally washed his iPod Nano. The details are here, including a picture of the Nano simpering happily. "The Nano is light enough that it turns out you can't really tell when it's in a shirt pocket and when it's not," explains Jon. "On this Saturday morning it was, and unfortunately the shirt was in the washer. I got ahold of it after about a minute in the dryer, so the little white contraption had already experienced a warm wash, cool rinse and exciting spin cycle. It was non-responsive, and if I was an ER doctor the Nano would have been pronounced dead." After plugging it in - to no effect - he then spotted the batttery icon on the screen, and then about half an hour later, the backlight came on and the Nano mounted in iTunes and on the desktop. The screen still had moisture behind it, but was otherwise OK, and the clickwheel worked fine as well. The survival is surely down to the use of Flash memory rather than a hard drive (as in the Nano's predecessor, the iPod Mini). A similar iPod Mini - washing machine encounter turned out less well for someone else this May; though that case raises the question of why the Nano's lithium-ion battery didn't also go pop. Presumably, the seal was so tight around the battery that no water reached it. Which is nice. However, the washing machine treatment is nothing compared to that meted out to the Nano by the hard nuts at Ars Technica, who threw it high into the air and drove over it. And yeah, the screen did crack, a bit. And you know what? Apple refused to replace it on the guarantee. Geez! Still, today's story does remain as testament to one of the most remarkable stories we can recall - a computer geek putting a shirt into the washing. Yes, it boggles the mind, doesn't it? ®
Charles Arthur, 04 Oct 2005