3rd > November > 2005 Archive

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Asus preps 'silent' Radeon 1600XT card

Asus will this month ship what it claims is an ATI Radeon X1600-based graphics card that offers near-silent operation. The EAX1600XT SILENT/TVD/256M board will ship with a large heatsink mounted on the back of the board. It's connected to the GPU by a pair of copper heatpipes. Asus claims the rig is capable of pulling all the heat it needs to away from the graphics chip, while the host PC's CPU fan is sufficient to suck it away from the heatsink. The upshot: "The graphics card is fan-less and operates at 0dB for quiet computing," says Asus. The GPU is clocked at 590MHz, with the 256MB of GDDR 3 SDRAM on board running at 690MHz (1.38GHz effective). The board has DVI, VGA and TV output. Asus said the EAX1600XT SILENT/TVD/256M will ship in the UK by the end of November. So too will the lower-end, fan-equipped EAX1600Pro TD/256M. It too is based on ATI's Radeon 1600 family, though the Pro part is clocked at 500MHz, while the 256MB of DDR 2 SDRAM is clocked to 390MHz (780MHz effective). The board has DVI, VGA and TV output. Both boards will ship with Asus' GameReplay software, which renders on-screen 3D action into an MPEG 4 video file. The code can also stream the video onto the Net. ®
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2005

Staff cuts and accelerated spin-out for Novell

Novell is axing 600 staff and accelerating plans to spin out its consulting business in an attempt to cut costs and return to growth. The company said Wednesday it is cutting more than 10 per cent of positions while focusing on Linux, open source, identity and resource management in a restructuring geared towards cutting $110m from Novell's operating costs. Novell's board has also authorized Citigoup Corporate and Investment Banking to "explore strategic alternatives" for Novell's Celerent consulting subsidiary. Celerant is a $150m annual business consulting unit perhaps best known as Cambridge Technology Partners, the company that Novell acquired in 2001 and was headed by Novell's current chief executive Jack Messman. Messman took over as Novell CEO from Eric Schmidt. Novell already planned to spinout Celerant, but only when market and "other" considerations were appropriate. The decision by Novell's board of directors' to hand due diligence to Wall St demonstrates frustration with the existing course of action and a decision to speed-up the search for alternatives. Restructuring and spinout follow an unexpectedly disastrous third quarter for Novell. Revenue dropped five per cent to $290m while net income plunged 90 per cent to $2.1m for the three months to August. Dissatisfaction has reportedly been growing with Messman's management style and ability to advance SuSE Linux since acquisition in 2003. Novell this week prompoted Ron Hovsepian to serve as Messman's peer as president and chief operating officer in charge of worldwide product development, marketing and sales. Messman called restructuring a "decisive, yet disciplined, cost reduction action that balances the need to be fiscally prudent with the need to continually seek growth opportunities and generate long-term profitability in a highly competitive marketplace." Novell expects to record a restructuring charge of between $30m and $35m during the fourth quarter that ended on October 31. The full effect of restructuring will be realized during the first quarter that ends on January 1, 2006. Novel did not say how much it expects the total charge to be.®
Gavin Clarke, 03 Nov 2005
globalisation

ADIC's modular midrange SMI-S

ADIC has given traditional one-box-fits-all tape libraries a kicking - and filled a gap in its line-up - with the launch of a modular library that can go to 18 LTO-3 drives and over 400 slots. Called the Scalar i500, it has native support for the SMI-S storage management standard and iSCSI, and replaces the smaller Scalar 100. "We're taking the architecture of our enterprise-class i2000 and scaling it down - it has a server embedded in the box and the same software feature set," said Steve Mackey, ADIC's Euro product marketing director. He added that the i500 offers drive level partitioning into virtual libraries, and consists of a control module with a robot and tape drives, to which you add one or more library sections. "It's designed for mixed media, but we're launching with LTO-3 only - the adoption rate for that has been very quick," Mackey continued. "LTO-3 is completely trusted because the LTO 1 and 2 releases were so reliable." He said ADIC will also offer capacity-on-demand, shipping libraries with more slots than you asked for; if you need the extra slots later, you can buy a licence key to enable them The i500 also uses ADIC's proactive diagnostic software - an expert system which tracks both faults and impending issues, such as a tape cartridge approaching end of life. "It looks for data around the problem and raises a call when it's identified, then opens a repair window for the user to fix it without a support call," said Mackey, adding that an earlier version of this technology on the i2000 halved ADIC's number of service calls. "Tape backup is admin-hungry, so there's a big demand for tools - customers want a single pane of glass to manage it all, so we have embedded SMI-S," he added. "If you are an EMC Control Centre or HP OpenView user, it's an added benefit because you only need one tool running." The i500 faces stiff competition from the likes of Sun-StorageTek's Streamline SL500 and the Quantum PX500 family. Quantum marketing director Ted Oade applauded ADIC's support for SMI-S but criticised its capacity-on-demand plans. "We asked midrange users extensively, and they said they didn't want that," he said. "They were offended by the idea." ADIC says that having one robot serving the whole unit is more cost-effective, but Oade argued that it means the i500 can scale in one direction only - upwards. "Our research found that half of all libraries sold get redeployed within three years," he said, "and they are often redeployed to smaller business units." He said that having a robot per section, with a pass-through for tapes, means libraries can be disaggregated as well as aggregated. "They're using capacity-on-demand as a crutch to address more users" with the same hardware, Oade said, adding though that overall, the i500 is "good news for users - manufacturers are investing in innovative products. It shows the strength of the midrange market." reg;
Bryan Betts, 03 Nov 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Algorithms no match for sales craft, Dell discovers

Dell will dismantle its US standalone consumer electronics division after poor results. The unit sold standard living room fare such as TVs, as well as high-end media PCs. The Wall Street Journal's Gary McWilliams reports that the Dell formula which has proved so successful for selling commodity PCs has been outgunned by traditional salesmanship on the shop floor. Dell's success has come about by focusing on low-cost assembly and distribution. "Dell is a grocer store," is how Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems described it. "And the only value you can add to a banana is a bruise". But for consumer electronics goods low pricing has come up against traditional retail and been found wanting. "Dell may have a price advantage over Sony and Samsung," says former Circuit City executive Michael Ryan in the WSJ piece, "but retailers have a wider variety of prices." It's heartening to think that the pricing algorithms behind one of the most successful companies on the planet are no match for the classic, old-fashioned craft of salesmanship.®
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Nov 2005

Booming 3G demand lifts Qualcomm

3G networks might not be the money-spinner the carriers once hoped, but they're bringing increasing cheer to Qualcomm investors with each quarter. Qualcomm provides chipsets for its own flavor of 3G and receives a royalty on each W-CDMA phone sold, whether or not they include Qualcomm silicon. W-CDMA is the flavor of 3G favored by GSM carriers in Europe and Asia. Yesterday the San Diego company reported a Q4 profit of $538m, up 40 per cent year-on-year. Average selling prices have declined slightly from $212 to $206, but tis is offset by a growth in shipments of 3G phones: Qualcomm reckons it will sell 51 to 53 million in the current quarter, up from 40 million a year ago. (That's more than twice as many iPods have been sold in the music player's entire history.) Qualcomm sees 262 million CDMA units being shipped in calendar year 2006, with 86 million of those being W-CDMA For the full year, Qualcomm recorded a profit of $2.14bn on sales of $5.67bn, up 25 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. Qualcomm spent $1bn on R&D in the full year, up 40 per cent. Executives said the company is looking at revenue of $6.7bn to $7.1bn for FY 2006. Six rivals and partners last week filed a complaint with the EU about Qualcomm's W-CDMA royalty rates depressing the share price to $40. Panasonic and NEC are joining Qualcomm's historical adversaries - Nokia, Texas Instruments, Broadcom and Ericsson - in the action. As we reported on Monday, Qualcomm may be quietly watching the WiMAX bandwagon from the sidelines, but it's also a kingmaker for 4G. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Nov 2005
graph up

Sony to offer patch for 'rootkit' DRM

UpdatedUpdated Sony BMG said today it will offer a patch for one of its own exploits - one that comes bundled with its music CDs. The code cloaks itself and by intercepting and redirecting low level windows system calls, forces the audio through a custom player, and restricts the number of CD burns that can be made. As Sys Internals' Mark Russinovich discovered this week, removing the Sony code using standard anti-malware tools leaves the user with an inoperable CD drive. Russinovich also pointed out that because the cloaking technique it used to hide itself was so crude, malware authors could hide their own nefarious programs on users hard disks using Sony's DRM software. However, the patch that Sony will offer doesn't remove the 'rootkit' DRM: it only makes the hidden files visible. Macintosh and Linux users are unaffected by the DRM kit, which only works on Windows PCs. It isn't quite the "bombs" the RIAA once suggested it was developing to deter music downloads, but it's in the same spirit. And here's the patch from First 4 Internet Ltd, the British company that developed the DRM software . "This Service Pack removes the cloaking technology component that has been recently discussed in a number of articles published regarding the XCP Technology used on SONY BMG content protected CDs." [our emphasis] The note continues: "This component is not malicious and does not compromise security. However to alleviate any concerns that users may have about the program posing potential security vulnerabilities, this update has been released to enable users to remove this component from their computers." But wait! Don't do that just yet... Anti-malware company F-Secure discusses the Sony DRM software here. F-Secure says its rootkit detection software will spot the hidden files, but strongly advises users not to remove it using its Blacklight software, and instead advises users to contact Sony. "If you find this rootkit from your system, we recommend you don't remove it with our products. As this DRM system is implemented as a filter driver for the CD drive, just blindly removing it might result in an inaccessible CD drive letter," advises F-Secure. It is alarming how little outrage there is from ordinary PC users. While Register readers are well versed in the restrictions of DRM and the dangers of malware, there's little sign the public shares this knowledge. Incredibly, the Sony DRM malware has been out on the market for eight months and is bundled on 20 CD titles. Sony said it hadn't received a single complaint until this week. So, disturbingly, most people either haven't run into serious problems yet, or even more disturbingly, don't find the Sony DRM particularly onerous. We pray it's not the latter. However, Sony's decision to offer a 'patch' that fails to remove the DRM code suggests it isn't too concerned by the howls of outrage heard this week from sophisticated PC users. And with this level of apathy, the music giants will be emboldened to try these techniques again. And again. And again. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Nov 2005
fingers pointing at man

Disposable credit card attracts 10,000 Irish users

Permanent TSB says that pre-paid credit for its disposable Visa card is now available in over 1,000 shops and petrol stations throughout Ireland. The disposable Visa cards - dubbed 3V cards - enable people to buy goods and services over the phone and the internet even if they don't have a credit card. Customers buy credit in retail outlets, in the same way that they can buy pre-paid mobile phone credit. The maximum credit which can be purchased on any one 3V voucher is €350 and the minimum is €20. More than 10,000 people have registered for the service since it was announced at the beginning of September and the Permanent TSB says that around 400 new people sign up for the service every day. The initiative is a collaboration between 3V Transactions Services, electronic payments firm Alphyra, Permanent TSB, and Visa. Niall O'Grady, Permanent TSB's general manager of marketing, told ElectricNews.Net that some people signed up for the disposable card because they are reluctant to give out their credit card details over the internet. Others signed up because they have been unable to get conventional credit cards. Some people signed up because they preferred to prepay for transactions, rather than incur credit card debt. Users of the service are not liable to pay the Irish government stamp duty of €40 which is payable on traditional credit cards. Since there are no negative balances, customers will not pay interest to the banks. However, credit card top-ups will cost €5, regardless of the value of the credit purchased. Each time a customer purchases credit they will receive a printed receipt with a unique Visa number. This number can then be used to purchase items online or over the phone, in one or more transactions, up to the value of the credit purchased. The number can be used from anywhere in the world, when dealing with any merchant who accepts Visa. O'Grady said that the credit card numbers cannot be used for point-of-sale transactions. He also said that purchases are processed in real-time, which means that consumers will not be able to exceed the amount of credit on a particular disposable credit card. The service is to be expanded to the UK and 18 other European countries over the coming year. Copyright © 2005, ENN
ElectricNews.net, 03 Nov 2005
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Crypto gurus hash out future

Encryption experts met in Gaithersburg, Maryland, this week to discuss retiring the SHA-1 hashing algorithm and creating a stronger version of the cryptographic workhorse. Over the past eighteen months, significant breaks of the Secure Hash Algorithm, SHA-1, have left confidence in the crypto algorithm essentially shattered. This week, a Who's Who of encryption experts met to discuss the problem and attempt to chart a course to a stronger hash function. While much of the proposed fixes build on old techniques, some new ideas did come our of the confab, according to a blog of the conference posted by well-known cryptographer Bruce Schneier. Hash algorithms are mathematical techniques of producing digital fingerprints of files that perform a key function in encryption and digital signatures. A digital fingerprint, or hash, is a small string of numbers that represent a much larger file or document. A digital signature actually validates a document's fingerprint not the document itself, because signing an actual document would be far too processor-intensive. The threat of a true break in the algorithm is not overwhelming. Cryptographers originally thought that a computer that could perform an attack calculation 1 million times every second would find a collision only once in 38 billion years. In February, the original break found by the researchers consisted of a method that could produce a collision once every 19 million years. A new technique found in August shortened that to once every 300,000 years. There's still some time left. Copyright © 2005, SecurityFocus
SecurityFocus, 03 Nov 2005

Carphone confirms local loop plans

The Carphone Warehouse is to invest up to £45m over the next three years as part of a major push into broadband and local loop unbundling (LLU). Not just content with flogging mobile phones, and reselling fixed line and broadband services, Carphone has ambitions to become "the clear number one alternative telecoms provider". Confirmation that the mobile retailer and telco is to invest in broadband follows hard on the heels of similar moves by satellite TV broadcaster Sky, Wanadoo and Plusnet, which have all recently announced their plans for LLU. Carphone is to begin what it describes as a "major drive into UK broadband market" in 2006 with plans to install its kit in 1,000 BT exchanges over the next three years giving it access to two thirds of its customers. The work will be carried out by Carphone's telco Opal, which it acquired in 2002. "Our intention is to pursue a fully unbundled strategy, enabling us to take control of the switched voice line as well as the broadband connection," said Carphone in a statement. "As always with our network infrastructure strategy, our level of financial commitment will be demand-driven, so that we will unbundle exchanges where we are confident of generating an attractive return on that investment through customer recruitment. "Our intention is to pursue a fully unbundled strategy, enabling us to take control of the switched voice line as well as the broadband connection," it said. Details of today's announcement came as Carphone published its interim results for the six months to October. Turnover was up 25 per cent at £1.29bn with pre-tax profit 35 per cent higher at £37m. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2005
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Sanyo pitches 'ready to use' rechargeable batteries

Sanyo will this month start selling a rechargeable battery that doesn't lose its charge if it's left unused, the company said yesterday. The battery, dubbed 'Eneloop', is derived from a standard NiMH cell. However, like non-rechargeable batteries, Eneloops don't lose their charge over short periods of time. That, said Sanyo, will allow them to be delivered to the consumer fully charged and ready to use. Sanyo hasn't eliminated the NiMH self-discharge cycle, just reduced it significantly. It claimed that a battery left unused for a year would contain 85 per cent of a full charge. Standard NiMH batteries would have long lost all their charge by that time. Sanyo also said the batteries are fully recyclable once they've reached the end of their lives. The manufacturer said the cells will last for 1,000 recharge cycles, with negligible loss of capacity over that period thanks to only a "minor" memory effect - the process by which a rechargeable battery loses capacity when it's recharged. Sanyo will pitch the product as an alternative to regular batteries: they're ready to use as soon as you open the packet, but because they are rechargeable they don't have to be thrown away when they empty for the first time. That makes them much more economic, Sanyo said - though at around $5 a cell, they're not cheap. It also claims Eneloop cells last longer on a single charge than a dry-cell battery does. Packs of AA-sized batteries will go on sale on 14 November costing $10 for a pair. Sanyo will begin shipping AAA-sized cells on 21 January 2006 for $8 a pair. ®
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2005
chart

Hidden DRM code's legitimacy questioned

The latest headache for security professionals has become a secret weapon in the battle between copyright owners and their customers.
SecurityFocus, 03 Nov 2005

Milky Way's black hole exposed in study

An international team of astronomers have provided compelling evidence that we have a supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. The astronomers, led by Zhi-Qiang Shen of the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, used an array of 10 radio telescope across the US to measure the radio emissions from around the edges of Sgr A. In a paper to be published in the journal Nature they conclude that the object, known officially as Sagittarius (Sgr) A, is much smaller than previous observations have suggested. Earlier research, which estimated the size of Sgr A by tracking the speed of orbit of nearby stars, had suggested that the object must be no larger than Pluto's orbit around the sun. These new observations mean that the object must fit in a space no larger than that described by Earth's orbit. With an estimated mass equivalent to that of around four million suns, the new constraints on the size of Sgr A place serious restrictions of the kind of object it could be. It has been suggested that Sgr A could be a collection of neutron stars, but if the conclusions are correct, it is the densest object known in the universe. Zhi-Qiang Shen says that the sheer density of the object means that if it was a collection of neutron stars, it would have a life expectancy of around a century, NationalGeographic.com reports. The next step in nailing down the exact nature of Sagittarius A is to attempt to directly observe the event horizon - the point beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape from a black hole. The research team says new equipment and some adjustments to the Very Long Base Array of radio telescopes could make it possible to collect evidence of things crossing the event horizon. The radiation emitted each time this happens would create a shadow that could be detected with radio telescopes. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Nov 2005

Teen escapes email bombing charge

A British teenager who allegedly flooded his former employers' email system with five million emails has escaped trial after a judge ruled that he had no case to answer. The ruling at Wimbledon Magistrates Court raises fresh doubts about the effectiveness of the Computer Misuse Act [CMA] in dealing with denial of service attacks by hackers. District Judge Kenneth Grant ruled that the unnamed teenager's alleged actions did not fall foul of the Computer Misuse Act even though the email flood the firm suffered caused its email servers to crash. The Computer Misuse Act - which dates back to 1990, before the widespread use of the net - outlaws the "unauthorised access" or "unauthorised modification" of computer systems. The unnamed teenager was charged under Section Three of the Act which covers the more serious offence of unauthorised modification of a computer system. The judge accepted defence arguments that since the firm's email server was set up for the express purpose of receiving emails then sending a flood of unsolicited emails could not be considered an act of unauthorised modification. In a written ruling, Judge Grant said: "In this case the individual emails caused to be sent each caused a modification which was in each case an 'authorised' modification. Although they were sent in bulk resulting in the overwhelming of the server, the effect on the server is not a modification addressed by section 3 [of the CMA]." Zdnet reports that the defendant was not called to testify so it remains unclear whether or not he was responsible for the alleged attack. Peter Sommer, expert witness for the defence, said the case highlighted a need to reform the UK's Computer Misuse Act. ®
John Leyden, 03 Nov 2005

Nude Brits shop while drunk

A growing number of Britons are taking their wallets online after the pub closes, according to new research. The number of people logging on to the internet to shop after having several drinks is on the rise, customer experience firm Conchango claims in a study into online spending behaviour.
Startups.co.uk, 03 Nov 2005

'Exploratory' talks on AOL future, says TW

Time Warner has confirmed that it is holding "exploratory" talks with a number of operators over the future of its AOL internet division. Speaking yesterday Time Warner chief exec Dick Parsons admitted that the internet giant was "holding exploratory discussions with a number of strategic partners" concerning a "range of potential strategic relationships and transactions". Which merely confirms the buzz of the last couple of months that has linked, in no particular order by the way, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google and cableco Comcast with AOL. Parsons' admission comes as Time Warner published its Q3 results for the three months to September and showed yet more disappointing news for AOL. Revenues were down $100m (5 per cent) to $2bn as the ISP continued to see subscription revenue fall. The reason appears straightforward enough - punters are still leaving the ISP in their droves. In the three months to September 678,000 US net users jumped ship taking the total number of punters to 20.1m - down 2.6m compared to this time last year. While in Europe, AOL lost almost 100,000 punters over the summer - down 170,000 on the year - taking total numbers in the UK, France and Germany to 6.1m. Despite the fall in revenues operating income rose $41m , or 16 per cent, to $302m. Two weeks ago AOL announced that 700 jobs would be culled reflecting the fall in subscriber numbers. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2005

Vodafone to increase Vodacom stake

Vodafone is to increase its stake in South African operator Vodacom to 50 per cent, according to reports, in a deal that will see it invest a further £1.35bn (around R16bn) in the company. The UK-based operator said yesterday that it would buy up the shares of holding company VenFin for R47.25 each, around 30 per cent above market value. VenFin currently holds a 15 per cent stake in Vodacom. Vodafone then plans to sell off the company's other assets. The remainder of the Vodacom shares are held by Telkom, the South African fixed line operator. Vodafone appears to be concentrating its energies on emerging, rather than saturated, markets. Some 57 per cent of the South African population currently owns a mobile phone, making it a much more attractive growth prospect than, for example, Sweden, where Vodafone this week sold its operation to Norway's Telnor. And last week, Vodafone spent £820m on a 10 per cent stake in Bharti, India’s largest mobile phone operator. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Nov 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Plasmon parades Operation RAID

Plasmon is hunting for resellers to flog its Raidtec Solutions line of NAS, SCSI and fibre channel RAID storage systems. It is running a recruitment campaign, dubbed Operation RAID, through its disties in UK, Ireland, Benelux, Germany and France. Dealers get 20 per cent off their first orders and a "select number of [new] resellers" will get to be called Elite Resellers, qualifying for direct sales, marketing support. www.plasmon.com/operationraid
Team Register, 03 Nov 2005

HTC preps media-centric 3G phone

It's not expected to ship for eight months, but HTC's next-generation Windows Mobile 5.0-based media phone has already surfaced on the web. According to a MSMobiles.com report, the handset, dubbed Muse, is a 3G device that also supports GSM and GPRS with EDGE. It may also support HSDPA, the extension to UMTS 3G technology that improves data transfer speeds. As per other HTC handsets, Muse has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth too. The unit has a 240 x 240, 65,536-colour display and a 2.1mp camera with Flash. There's a more basic, VGA camera on the front for video calls. For media playback, Muse has a pair of integrated stereo speakers and, like Samsungs's new D600, a TV port. There's an FM radio on board too. The phone provides 64MB of RAM for operations and 4GB of Flash memory for media storage. There's a Micro SD slot for adding more. Muse contains a 416MHz CPU, the report claims. There's no mention of a keypad, but we assume from the piccy Muse is a slider. HTC's other 3G handset, the candybar-shaped Breeze, also makes an appearance at the site. Due May 2006, the device offers the same network specs as Muse, but sports a 320 x 240 display, 1.3mp camera with flash, 64MB of RAM and 128MB of Flash ROM. ®
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2005

Bird flu seagull actually pissed

Vets in Sundsvall, Sweden, believed they had a case of avian influenza when they discovered a seagull with "with yellow liquid coming out of its beak and anus", crashed out on its back and "kicking its legs", UPI reports. The truth was rather less alarming - the bird was actually the worse for wear after apparently eating yeast on a rubbish dump. Tests confirmed its state of intoxication and the vets rather unsportingly put the poor blighter down. ®
Lester Haines, 03 Nov 2005

Rabid vampire bats menace Brazil

The Brazilian health authorities are battling a wave of attacks by rabid vampire bats which have in the last two months killed 23 people. More than 1,300 bite victims have also been treated for rabies during the outbreak, which the authorities describe as "unusually serious". Vampire bats - the main carriers of rabies in Brazil - suck the blood of other mammals while they're asleep, and will commonly attack cattle. According to the BBC, the incidents are centred in an area of marshland in the northen state of Maranhao where locals have been attempting to plug holes in their houses with banana leaves in an attempt to keep the killer bats out. Some experts say deforestation is the cause of the plague, as the bats are driven from their usual habitat; others reckon the bat population is on the up-and-up because of the growth in cattle farming. There's more specific info on an attack by common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) on the Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo website. It records the first incident of vampire bat assault in the northeastern city of Olinda where a dog owner managed to grab some grainy snaps of three bats feeding on his pet Doberman. ®
Lester Haines, 03 Nov 2005
cloud

S3 launches Chome S20 GPUs

S3 Graphics today formally launched the Chrome S20, its fourth-generation DirectX 9.0 graphics chip, running at what it claimed is the "highest frequency of any GPU currently available". That honour goes to the Chrome S27, which runs at 700MHz. It supports any memory configuration from single-channel DDR SDRAM up to quad-channel GDDR 3. It also features MultiChrome, S3's answer to Nvidia's SLi and ATI's CrossFire multi-GPU systems. Unlike the others, MultiChrome is "completely open [and] non-propriety", S3 claimed. The chip contains eight parallel pixel processing pipelines fed by four vertex processors and can shade 5.6bn pixels per second. The S27 joined by the Chrome S25, a lower end part limited to four-channel DDR 2 graphics memory but which retains the full eight pixel pipelines. The S25 features AcceleRAM, a technology S3 claims allows it to squeeze more performance out of smaller capacity, slower, single- or dual-channel memory. Both chips support PCI Express natively. They also contain the third generation of S3's Chromotion video engine, delivering 1080p HDTV output with hardware accelerated motion compensation and support for Windows Media's HD video codecs. The two chips also implement S3's PowerWise architecture, which the chip maker claims makes for "the most power efficient graphics in the industry". PowerWise incorporates multi-domain dynamic clock gating and, as S3 revealed earlier this week, Fujitsu's power-optimised 90nm fabrication process, for "completely silent" fanless operation. S3 said both chips were RoHS-compliant, thanks to "lead-free wafer bumping, substrate construction, final packaging and assembly". S3 didn't say when the S25 and S27 will ship, though past reports have suggested a Q4 appearance. Nor did the company indicate possible pricing. ®
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2005

Potential suitor courts Eircom

Eircom - Ireland's incumbent telco - could be about to be snapped up after confirming it has received an approach from a potential bidder. At this stage it's not known who is sniffing around Eircom but Swisscom and Deutsche Telekom have been named in press reports as potential suitors. "The company has received a preliminary approach from a potential offeror that may or may not lead to an offer being made for the company," said Eircom in a statement. There's a heck of a lot going on in the telecoms sector at the moment. Satellite broadcaster Sky is buying into broadband with the £211m acquisition of local loop unbudnling outfit Easynet. Yesterday Deutsche Telekom announced plans to axe 32,000 jobs and on Monday, O2 agreed to be bought by Telefonica for £18bn as the Spanish telco looks to expand its operations into UK and Germany. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2005

Nokia misses N-Gage sales target by miles

Nokia's handheld games console-cum-phone, the N-Gage, remains central to the Finnish giant's multimedia strategy despite failing to meet sales expectations. Speaking in Barcelona this week, Anssi Vanjoki, who runs Nokia's multimedia operation, admitted he was unhappy with the console's take-up. "I said we needed to sell six million in three years, and we sold one-third of that," he said, Reuters reports. "We need to make some changes." The N-Gage was launched in November 2002, initially targeting the European market. It arrived in the US the following October. In November 2003, on the console's first birthday, Nokia reiterated forecasts that it would have shipped more than 6m N-Gage's by the end of 2004, let alone by late 2005. Interestingly, in February 2004, Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila said the console would be given until November 2005 before it would be judged a success or failure. Well, that's where we are now, and sure enough we have the company talking about making "changes". They may already be taking place. In May 2004, Nokia shipped the more compact N-Gage QD, which addressed many of the problems punters had had with the first generation of the console. The company had been rumoured to be preparing a third-generation model for display at the E3 games show this past May, but if such a beast exists, it wasn't presented to the public. Instead, Nokia said N-Gage games would be supported across a range of Series 60 smart phones due to ship early 2006. What it had in mind were the three new N-series handsets it unveiled this week. Indeed, Vanjoki said Nokia would bring games developed for the N-Gage to these handsets. Which is, of course, what it should have done at the start. When the N-Gage was launched, Nokia was adamant that the device was a console first and a phone a distant second. Such a notion was doomed from the start: its phone heritage was blatantly obvious - the tiny screen, primarily - and Nokia needed carriers to subsidise the device's price to make it affordable. Inevitably, consumers were going to treat it as a game-playing phone, and arguably Nokia should have accepted that and pushed a multimedia handset rather than something that wasn't a good console and wasn't a good phone either. That said, what N-Gage has allowed Nokia to do is build closer ties with the gaming industry, which it might not have been able to make had N-Gage been just another game-playing phone, even one with a better gaming capacity than handsets that rely, say, on Java. In that respect, even having sold in the millions, N-Gage may be judged by Nokia a success. ®
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2005
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BT Ireland confirms Cara buyout

BT Ireland has confirmed that it's bought the Cara Group in a deal that execs claim will create one of the largest networked IT services companies in Ireland. Financial details were not dislcosed. The deal, reported by The Register earlier this week, is part of BT's strategy to gain more ground as a networked services provider and to expand into areas such as LAN, IP telephony, wireless networking and security. Based in Dublin and employing 134 people, Cara provides ICT services to Irish businesses and public sector groups, and last year posted revenues of €38m. It's been a busy week for the monster telco. On Monday, BT snapped up LAN outfit Total Network Solutions Limited (TNS) also for an undisclosed sum. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2005

Cisco protects routers against 'Black Hat' bug

Cisco has warned users of a flaw in its IOS (Internetwork Operating System) software which might be used by hackers to bypass security restrictions and run hostile code on network devices. The vulnerability reportedly affects all Cisco products that run Cisco IOS software, including routers and a limited range of switches that don't run CatOS. The networking giant has released fixes for the 12.x releases of its software as explained in a patching matrix here. The security flap stems from a heap-based buffer overflow security bug involving internal operating system timers. This might be exploited in conjunction with some other heap-based buffer overflow vulnerability to run hostile code on vulnerable systems. In a statement, Cisco said it had not received any reports about active exploitation of the vulnerability. It explained that the security flaw was related to security bugs outlined in a presentation by security researcher Michael Lynn at Black Hat in July. This presentation became a cause celebre in the security research community after Cisco controversially obtained a restraining order to suppress publication of Lynn's findings. "This advisory documents changes to Cisco IOS as a result of continued research related to the demonstration of the exploit for another vulnerability which occurred in July 2005 at the Black Hat USA Conference. Cisco addressed the IPv6 attack vector used in that demonstration in a separate advisory published on 29 July 2005," it said. ®
John Leyden, 03 Nov 2005

Toshiba Qosmio G20 Media Center notebook

ReviewReview Toshiba's Qosmio range is set up for entertainment and the G20 stands at its head. With a large widescreen display and running Microsoft's Windows Media Center 2005, Toshiba has pretty much thrown the kitchen sink at this thing in an effort to ensure that it can act as a full-on digital content hub.
Benny Har-Even, 03 Nov 2005

Mars Express up and running

A faulty instrument on Mars Express is up and running again after a "few months" out of action. The Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) went offline in July this year when its pendulum motor broke down. Once mission scientists were able to establish the cause of the problem, they switched to the back up motor and the PFS is back in business. The PFS is designed to take very precise measurements of the distribution of the main gases that make up the Martian atmosphere, as well as measuring how temperature and pressure change with altitude, and tracking how this changes with the seasons. When conditions are good it can also detect less abundant gases, the presence of dust in the atmosphere, and even make inferences about the composition of the soil. It was the PFS that made the first ever in-situ measurements of methane in the Martian atmosphere, and also discovered traces of formaldehyde in the soil, provoking even more speculation than usual that there might be life on the red planet. Now that the instrument has been switched back on, it will be able to start gathering data again almost immediately, mission managers say. In related news, ESA said this week that there is a "small hope" that the student-built Sseti satellite would recover from its power problems. After a successful launch, the satellite was quickly put into safe mode after it emerged that there is a problem with charging its batteries. In a bid to make the best of a bad situation, those in charge of the project stress that many of its goals have already been achieved. Project manager Neil Melville said that the mission had been a success from "an educational and technical standpoint". ®
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Nov 2005

MS buys Swiss VoIP outfit

Microsoft is to acquire a Swiss software outfit that develops applications for internet telephony. Financial details were not released but Zurich-based media-streams.com said it plans to work with the software giant to "accelerate the delivery of its unified communications vision". In MS-speak it wants to "break down the silos of communication" by bringing together various modes of communication - email, IM, SMS, telephony etc - to "extend the unified communications experience to information workers". In August, Microsoft snapped up privately held internet telephony outfit Teleo in a deal that positions the software giant against Skype in the already crowded VoIP market. As in today's deal, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But Redmond plans to use Teleo's technology to allow users to make phone calls from PCs to traditional phones and mobiles as well as other broadband-connected PC users. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2005

PartyGaming weighs odds on Empire takeover

PartyGaming, the company behind PartyPoker.com, has confirmed that it has made a bid to acquire rival online gambling operator Empire. The company said press speculation had prompted the disclosure. The two companies previously had an agreement whereby Empire would direct players to PartyPoker.com in return for a slice of the revenue. However, PartyGaming ended that relationship earlier this year. Subsequently Empire issued a profits warning and watched its share price collapse. Meanwhile PartyGaming reported in October that revenues from poker had risen 10 per cent, FT.com reports, after losing much of its value in a sluggish market sector. PartyGaming issued a statement confirming that it has made "a preliminary, non-binding approach to Empire", adding that the proposal depends largely on the "prospects for Empire's business". "The terms of any offer will be determined by the outcome of the due diligence process, which is ongoing," the statement concludes. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Nov 2005

Apple stock rockets

Apple's share price hit a record high yesterday, and it could well do so today. AAPL stock closed yesterday at $59.95, up four per cent on the previous day's close. The stock began trading at $60.55, and peaked at $61.74 in some early transactions. It's not hard to see why the stock might be proving so popular. This week's forecast that Apple will ship enough iPods this quarter to bring its to-date total up to 37m, coupled with the company's announcement that it had sold 1m $1.89 video downloads in under 20 days, has clearly got investors anticipating a strong Christmas quarter for the Mac maker. That's particularly the case since its competitors in the portable digital media player market are anticipating a difficult period, thanks to the deal Apple is alleged to have made with Samsung to ensure it doesn't run out of Flash memory chips. The trouble is, some rivals say, most notably Creative, that means they may face supply problems. Half of the top ten most popular notebooks on sale at Amazon.com are Apple machines, something analysts see as evidence of the iPod halo effect: the popularity of the player is encouraging computer buyers to choose a Mac rather than a Windows machine. On the desktop list, the number of Apple boxes rises to seven. All but one of the e-tailer's top selling MP3 players are iPods. The odd one out is a 256MB SanDisk. It's no great surprise, perhaps, that the top-three selling iPods are all black models, vindicating Apple's new colour scheme. Amazon.com's lists don't tell the whole story, of course, but they're a good indicator of US buying trends. Another trend worth noting is a move among investors to favour stock known to be doing well, rather than simply offering the possibility of success at some future time. "Investors want to own the names that are doing well," American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said in an interview with Reuters. "It's the flight to quality... [Apple] is one of the few quality names out there with pretty high visibility. You know whether they're doing well or not." ®
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2005
chart

Opteron Madness forces Dell to market IBM servers

Being late to market with dual-core processors has taken a damaging toll on Dell's marketing leverage. Evidence? You bet. During a Dell-hosted conference call this week with reporters, Kirk Skaugen, Intel's general manager of servers, started detailing new four-way systems based on Intel's Paxville MP chip. Dell needed this chip bad, as its main competitors have had access to a four-way capable Opteron chip from AMD since April. Skaugen was so impressed by his company's new chip that he blurted out, "Paxville now has the leading four-way score on (the TPC-C benchmark)." Oops. For one, the system Skaugen so lovingly advertised on a Dell call belongs to IBM. Yep, the IBM x366 with four of the dual-core Paxville MP edged out the HP ProLiant DL585 with four dual-core Opterons. So here's an Intel man hawking IBM's high-performing gear in front of press and analysts during a Dell marketing session. Not pretty stuff. Mistake two comes when you realize that the IBM box in question has a shipping date of March 31, 2006, according to the TPC Council. Meanwhile, HP's Opteron-based server ships next week. In addition, IBM spent - get this - $1.8m for the server and hardware needed to run the benchmark. We'll let that sink in for a minute. This is supposed to be the "industry-standard, commodity" market, friends. HP spent $484,000 on its test. Hardly cheap, but, er, certainly not $1.8m. The message here seems to be, "If you want a really fast and expensive four-way server, turn to IBM because Dell's systems haven't been benchmarked yet because the company just got these dual-core things from Intel and, quite frankly, it doesn't spend that much money on things like performance tuning. Or, if you need a speedy four-way server right now, turn to HP because it actually sells one." All around, not Dell's best sales pitch. ®
Ashlee Vance, 03 Nov 2005
fingers pointing at man

Governments agree to end multi-chip import duties

US, European and Asian government and trade representatives have provisionally agreed to stop taxing semiconductors in multi-chip packages (MCPs) more than they tax single-die packages. Delegates from the US, the European Commission, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan meeting in Seoul this week agreed to end import duties on MCPs from 1 January 2006. It's merely a draft resolution at this stage - the negotiators must now head home and persuade the governments to formalise the agreement. Semiconductor imports currently do not attract import duties in territories which have ratified the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), struck in the mid-1990s under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Back then silicon chip packages contained only a single die. Today, packages containing a variety of chips wired together are commonplace - Intel's upcoming 65nm dual-core desktop processors, for example, are implemented using MCP techniques. Because they are not covered by the ITA, customs authorities in a number of regions have chosen to impose import duties on them. The EU, for example, levies a range of duties running up to four per cent. The US and South Korea both charge 2.6 per cent. These levies and others will disappear next year, if this week's provisional agreement is ratified. The upshot should be cheaper electronics and computing products, the US-based Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said today. It welcomed the agreement, which paves the way for a move it has been campaigning for for some time. However, MCPs remain a small part of the chip market. Last year, $4.2bn worth of MCPs were sold - just under two per cent of the total value of all semiconductors sold in 2004. That percentage is likely to rise this year and next, not least becuase of Intel's interest in MCPs for multi-core processors, and the use of the technique to boost memory chip capacities. ®
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2005

Video Networks expands broadband network

Video Networks is to unbundle hundreds more exchanges as it makes its broadband TV service available to some ten million viewers in the UK. The national expansion of its local loop unbundling (LLU) network is to be funded by Video Networks' existing shareholders and by a new round of fund-raising led by investment bank CSFB. Video Networks delivers video on-demand, digital TV, broadband and voice services. At the moment, Video Network's Homechoice service is available to around 2.4m homes in London, but from next year it intends to begin a national roll-out of its service making its footprint roughly on par with that of soon-to-merge cablecos NTL and Telewest. Except while the cablecos have an established business with millions of punters, so far Video Networks has only managed to sign up 34,000 customers. Still, the company is optimistic and has high hopes that its broadband / TV / telephony service will prove popular with viewers. "We are growing our customer base rapidly and we are growing the proportion of our customers who buy all three services from us," said Roger Lynch, chairman and CEO of Video Networks. "This gives us great confidence in our decision to launch our national roll-out and bring the attractions of Homechoice to a much wider UK audience," he said. Separately, the company described as "rumour and speculation" reports that Homechoice could be a take-over target for satellite group Sky, which is already buying LLU operator Easynet for £211m to enter the UK's broadband market. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2005
globalisation

Harmless Oracle worm raises security fears

Gray Hat hackers have posted proof-of-concept code for a worm designed to spread using vulnerabilities in Oracle's database software. The Oracle Voyager worm, which targets Oracle databases with default user accounts and passwords, was posted on a full disclosure list on Monday (31 October). Although not a threat in itself, security researchers fear the code might be used as a template to develop future malware. The worm uses the a net connection package (called UTL_TCP) to scan for Oracle databases on the same local network. Once it finds another database, the SID is retrieved and the worm uses several default username and password combinations to attempt to log onto the remote database. The proof-of-concept worm is harmless but possible follow-up code may not be so polite. "In its current state, the worm isn't a terribly significant threat. However, is can be treated as an early warning sign for future variants of the worm that include additional propagation methods," according to a posting by the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Centre, an organisation which tracks net-based threats. The scope of the potential threat remains unclear. Security experts nonetheless urge Oracle system administrators to take precautions to shore up security defence. US-CERT, for example, offers the following advice: Change default user credentials for Oracle installations Change the default port for the TNS listener Restrict Oracle network access to trusted hosts only Revoke CREATE DATABASE LINK privileges from the CONNECT role The emergence of what's said to be the first worm targeting Oracle databases illustrates that malicious code is ceasing to be a Windows only concern as malware authors look to exploit security holes beyond the desktop. A detailed analysis of the Oracle Voyager worm by Red Database Security can be found here. ®
John Leyden, 03 Nov 2005
graph up

AMD begins fully-buffered blade attack on Intel

AMD made its blade server pitch yesterday to Wall Street and leaked out one area where it looks to hit Intel in the coming months. Close chip watchers know that Intel and its OEMs plan to support Fully-Buffered DIMMs in 2007. This memory technology will provide a number of features that should benefit server makers, including high-performance, the ability to spread memory out on motherboards, lower pin counts and better overall reliability. AMD, however, wants customers to know there is a power consumption cost with the technology too. Marty Seyer, a vice president at AMD, warned that the power consumption issues of FB-DIMMs could hurt Intel's play in the blade server market, during a Merrill Lynch-hosted conference call with analysts and reporters. AMD reckons that a standard DDR DIMM needs 5.4 watts, a DDR2 DIMM needs 4.4 watts and a DDR2 FB-DIMM needs 10.4 watts. Pack a few sticks of memory in a server and that extra load adds up. Intel has historically been a bad performer in the performance per watt area with its server chips. AMD was just about as bad until it released the Opteron chip and went with an integrated memory controller. In the blade market, watts are precious, and AMD may well have a point about FB-DIMMs being problematic. Without question, the company plans to push the evils of FB-DIMMs, so stay tuned for a marketing barrage there. One item AMD will likely spend less time discussing is its move to a 65nm manufacturing process. During the Merrill Lynch call, AMD revealed that it won't make a 65nm push until the second half of 2006. Intel will move to 65nm with server chips in early 2006, potentially giving it a nice cost edge. ®
Ashlee Vance, 03 Nov 2005
channel

Firefox gains ground on IE

More than one out of 10 surfers use Firefox as a browser, according to a study by web analytics firm OneStat.com. Although Mozilla-based browsers have a total global usage share of 11.51 percent - an increase of 2.82 per cent since April 2005 - Microsoft's Internet Explorer still dominates the global browser market with a global share of 85.45 per cent. Its share has slipped 1.18 per cent from the end of April. For some unexplained reason, Mozilla's browsers are more popular in the USA (14.07 per cent use Firefox) and Canada (16.98 per cent) than in the UK (4.94 per cent), according to OneStat.com. Its figures come from a survey of two million visitors to sites running OneStat.com's Web site services. JavaScript code on these Web sites is used to detect which browser a surfer is using. Many mainstream web sites are difficult, if not impossible, to use by surfers who prefer Opera, Konqueror, Mozilla and other alternative browsers. To get around this problem its common for alternative browsers users to try agent spoofing - a trick which allows Opera users (for example) to present themselves to web sites as users of IE. OneStat.com claims the methodology of its survey allows it to factor out this behaviour. Although OneStat.com has witnessed a steady increase in Firefox usage over recent months other firms report the opposite trend. Last month, web applications provider NetApplications reported that Firefox was losing ground to IE with usage of the open source browser down to 8.07 per cent in July compared to 8.71 per cent in June 2005. Either this was a temporary blip or one or other of web analytics firms is getting its trends in a tangle. We're not sure which. ® The web's most popular browsers, according to OneStat.com Microsoft IE - 85.45 per cent Mozilla Firefox - 11.51 per cent Apple Safari - 1.75 per cent Opera - 0.77 per cent Netscape - 0.26 per cent
John Leyden, 03 Nov 2005
For Sale sign detail

SolarMetric buy makes BEA more persistent

BEA Systems is buying an object/relational mapping specialist to simplify development of Java applications and compete with open and closed source rivals. BEA has bought SolarMetric and announced plans to support the company's Kodo persistence engine in its WebLogic Server 9.5, due in the second half of 2006, and Workshop development environment. Financial terms of the deal were not revealed. Kodo allows developers to build data-based applications without needing to know too much about SQL or the design of a relational database. The important thing for BEA is that Kodo provides bindings for Java Data Objects (JDO) in addition to Enterprise Java Beans (EJBs), architectures that are endorsed by the Java Community Process (JCP). Support for JDO makes Kodo "a leader in standards-based persistence engines," according to BEA. The company is a keen supporter of JDO. Acquisition, though, makes BEA more of a player against open and closed source competitors. Persistence engines are set to become an integral part of Java after BEA's open source rival JBoss worked with the JCP to help add persistence to the latest EJB implementation, version 3.0. JBoss is a leading proponent of object/relational persistence through the open source Hibernate project. Hibernate also overcomes complexities inherent in programming to SQL and relational databases, and exceeds the EJB specification by having added features such as the ability to do bulk loads. In the closed-source world, meanwhile, Oracle bought TopLink in 2002 to add an object/relational mapping layer between Java applications and its database and simplify development of Java applications for its platform. Side-stepping mention of JBoss - which has been hurting its business - BEA said the acquisition means it now offers an independent alternative to database vendors at the web and data access layer: "We are in a nice position to go after Oracle and [IBM] Websphere deployments in markets that are attached to the database and make it a little more agnostic out there," a BEA spokesperson said. JBoss vice president of strategy and corporate development Bob Bickel told The Register BEA was late in its adoption of persistence technology and doubted it could penetrate a large-scale developer market. "The market is already there and moving. BEA are doing it for their high-end user - they have no mass-market appeal, they have no mechanism to have 80,000 downloads a month that Hibernate has. It's a move to shore-up their space." ®
Gavin Clarke, 03 Nov 2005
homeless man with sign

Microsoft nabs wee FolderShare

Microsoft is rounding out the infrastructure of its live software "service" with the acquisition of synchronization and remote access service FolderShare. FolderShare helps customers access information across multiple devices without sending data in large emails, uploading or burning data to CD or DVD. The service allows customers to synchronize data for access via a browser. The software is very easy to configure and proves quite handy in keeping files synched between Macs and PCs, if that's your thing. Although, the Mac software has mysteriously gone missing for the moment. "The Mac version is currently unavailable, but will be back up by this weekend. More details will follow in the next few days," FolderShare says on its site. Microsoft said FolderShare is suited to personal and small business use, and helps extend the Windows Live mission of giving customers access to their information "anytime, anywhere and on multiple devices, unifying their overall experience." Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. FolderShare is owned and operated by Austin, Texas-based ByteTaxi.®
Gavin Clarke, 03 Nov 2005
For Sale sign detail

Political challenge to state's Office ruling

The decision by a US state to dump Microsoft Office for desktop productivity suites only supporting OpenDocument Format (ODF) has run afoul of local politics. Massachusetts has moved to establish an IT taskforce that sets state-wide software standards and procurement policies along with formatting of web page content. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts' senate bill 2256 (see section 57), published this week, forbids any executive agency or department from adopting or implementing a standard, policy or practice without approval of the planned four-man taskforce. The bill follows a recent decision by the ID Division of Massachusetts to make it statewide policy that agencies and departments use Office suites that support ODF by 2007. Peter Quinn, state chief information officer, said talks had been held with industry representatives over the "openness" of different format options. The IT Division hit political flack this week, though, when the state senate's committee on post audit and oversight opened an investigation of the ODF mandate. Committee chairman Marc Pacheco expressed concern over the cost of moving from Office and questioned the IT Division's authority to take a "unilateral" decision. Currently, OpenOffice and Sun Microsystems' StarOffice use the XML-based ODF with support expressed for the standard by IBM, Novell, Corel and Adobe. Microsoft does not have any plans to support ODF in Office 12, due next year. Sun this week announced a migration service aimed at helping organizations and government bodies like Massachusetts to move from Microsoft. Users will be able to upload Office documents in bulk to Sun's N1 Grid where they are converted into a format compatible with ODF. "In this way [customers] can leverage it at scale and start to convert all their documents. Rather than acquire StarOffice and OpenOffice and using a file translator, you can do it in a bulk way," Sun vice president Tom Gougen said. "The other part is, you may not have StarOffice or OpenOffice on the desktop top but you may want to send document to others who do. You can leverage the grid to convert it." If approved, the state's taskforce will consist of four members, two of which will be drawn from the business community and have experience in telecommunications and IT. Members will be appointed by the governor, state secretary and state auditor for a term of three years.®
Gavin Clarke, 03 Nov 2005
cloud

Five months at Oracle enough for CFO

Greg Maffei has become the latest CFO to last less than a year at database giant Oracle. Maffei, who ran Microsoft's vast and swelling finances between 1997 and 2000, is leaving to follow a "terrific personal opportunity" after just five months at Oracle. Maffei follows Harry You, who left in March after eight months in the position he inherited from Jeff Henley. Henley, an Oracle veteran of 14 years, has remained at Oracle having been appointed chairman. You joined BearingPoint as chief executive. Eager to head-off allegations of personality clashes with the Oracle brass, Maffei said in an approved statement: "My resignation is not a reflection on the company, it's executives or employees." Ellison added to the pre-seasonal goodwill. "Greg has told us he's looking at a terrific professional opportunity. We wish him well," he said. Details of that opportunity were not provided, although we're sure it is terrific. Oracle's co-president Safra Catz is again adding the CFO's responsibilities to her own. Catz last donned the CFO mantel when You left for BearingPoint. Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund called Maffei's exit in a research note issued earlier today. "We have grown increasingly convinced that there are legitimate questions regarding Mr. Maffei's status at the company," he wrote, after Oracle delayed an analyst conference and cancelled Maffei's guest appearance at a Goldman Sachs event. Perhaps the rigors of acquiring software giants on a seemingly monthly basis proved too much for the CFO. ®
Gavin Clarke, 03 Nov 2005