21st > November > 2005 Archive

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C2000 welcomes email plagiarists

Distie round-upDistie round-up Computer 2000 has launched a demand generation service, which will enable resellers to rebrand vendor promo emails as their own and send to their customer lists. The service is called Clic2Channel and it has gone live, after being "piloted with excellent results". Tandberg, the storage hardware vendor, has signed up Northamber to distribute its products in the UK. Last week, the company was dropped by Hammer, a UK specialist storage distie. A new distributor, specialising in mobile data capture and printing hardware, has opened its doors. Varlink is based in York and says it won't sell to end users. CRN has more bumf here. Varlink website Interactive Ideas, the specialist Linux distie has picked up the UK franchise for Open-Xchange Server, an open source collaboration software developed by, umm, Open-Xchange Inc. Enfield-based Interactive recently set up a website to help dealers flog Linux software to small and medium businesses. You can find it at www.linuxvar.co.uk. ®
Team Register, 21 Nov 2005

TechScape: Are you being Served?

CommentComment Tired of being treated like the vendor is your customer? Tired of surly service reps treating you shabbily and ignoring your complaints? Fed-up with having the line “accidentally” cut-off when you’re trying to get some satisfaction? Well, I am too. This is the column for you, then. The British don’t know how to complain. Not properly anyway. You need the Yanks around to keep your customer service infrastructure honest. We know how to complain, baby. The Americans have raised customer complaints to a true art form. This is a subtle art requiring the passion, commitment and patience of Job. But the Brits are now increasingly borrowing a page from the formerly “arrogant, obnoxious” Americans in standing up for themselves and preventing the notorious poorly consumer Goliaths on this great island from putting their fingers in their ears or worse, getting shirty with you, their customer. So let’s begin, Recently I had to move house. This activity, as psychologists tell us, is third to the death of a loved one and divorce on the stress Richter scale, so I was operating on a very short rope to begin with before I ever had to deal with BT to get the phones and wireless broadband moved over. Upon calling BT, my call was quickly answered with a human being who informed me that I needed the “Moving House Department.” Hmmm, I thought ,: “Maybe this time they won’t have me pulling my eyelashes out one-by-one while listening to their Muzak funeral dirges.” Nope. Not a chance. The cruelty started shortly afterwards: it was like some child serial killer pulling the wings off flies. Beginning with a little clue for me, I was suddenly disconnected from the agent who was then helping me. No worries, I thought, I always get the agent’s name, full name if they don’t imply that I’m going to stalk them, and extension number so that I can refer to them later if necessary. If you do this at the beginning of the conversation when the relationship heads south, you can always hammer them to their supervisor. Unless they give you a phoney name, as this clever woman apparently did. When I called back they told me there “was no such person.” Round one went to BT. I was bitter, but also emboldened. When used properly, an agent hang-up on a customer can be a valuable assault. Milk it for what it’s worth and play the victim for all its worth. As we will see, good things can come to those who smartly escalate their complaints to the highest levels while closely documenting to whom they spoke, when and being able to give direct quotes about what exactly these customer-service charlatans are saying and how they’re saying it on a regular basis to their benefactors—the customers. Back to our story, upon calling back the BT automatons tried their usual maneuverings by making me wait on hold for several minutes (the only way around this is to get to a “supervisor” or “team leader” and get their direct-dial number for your future pestering enjoyment), then asking me my postal code in an effort I shirked to get me to tell my entire story (this must always be commented upon and used to get to a higher authority) and otherwise waste my time and have me riding a tricycle up the wall sideways. They try so hard with these intrigues to make you go away. Don’t. After receiving four refusalks to transfer me to their supervisor, I was forced to point out that I had their name and ID and didn’t really think their supervisor would be too happy with the customer having to ask four times to speak to a superior and being given a tough time about that legitimate request. This made her switch me to the higher authority. Before this however, she tried “my supervisor’s very busy right now” (My response, “Well tell her to get un-busy right now”); “supervisors don’t get on the phone with customers” (Easily dispatched with, “They do with this customer.”) and the omnipotent, “She won’t be able to tell you anything different from what I’ve told you.” (This last one I’ve never found to be true—when they say it, it’s definitely not true.) The supervisor comes on all perky and saying “let’s see how we can solve your problem, Mr. Robinson.” Watch out when you hear these words … it’s almost never true. These and “leave it with me and I’ll sort it out” are sure red flags which should always alert the recipient that nothing of the sort should be expected. After several hours on the phone with the BT supervisor over the course of four days separated by a weekend, a visit was finally scheduled. Three weeks from that day - which was six days after I first started trying. And, this was simply to re-install our current service in our new home! Jeez, does BT really want to keep its customers? I was beginning to wonder. I had heard that for a long time BT was losing more customers per month than it was bringing onboard but this was ridiculous. I had long wondered why the world’s big brands such as Coke, AT&T and BT were perceived as stunningly successful. To me, they always seemed blisteringly idiotic that they could take near 100% market domination and lose huge chunks of it rapidly to Pepsi, MCI and Cable & Wireless. But now my little theory was being confirmed for me personally right before my very eyes. Obviously, three weeks without phone service and broadband was a completely unacceptable period to be held incommunicado for a man and his partner working from home. Therefore, I did what we always have to do: Fought them at every turn; for if you do not fight them like Vikings they’ll have you for breakfast. After much agony and gum-flapping on my part and numerous attempts to verbally and emotionally pistol-whip me on their part, I finally secured a date three days out. This was not really satisfactory either, but in disgust I gave up and surrendered. When the hallowed day arrived, I was told by the BT engineer that I’d “have to schedule another visit to get my service up and running.” Incredulously, I inquired as to why this was so. Apparently, the previous residents of our new home had a BT Home Highway box installed and he was either incapable of or procedurally prevented from removing it. I could hear my re-emerging nightmare slap me in the face when pleading for a new appointment, “I’m ever so sorry sir, but unfortunately our next appointment is five weeks from today …” I escalated like a Sumo wrestler. I complained like a consummate professional. Much more work was required on my part, as you might imagine, but in the end it was well worth it. The following week, I had a working phone, wireless broadband, free phone line and broadband installation and a four-month credit on our broadband fees. Not bad for a day’s … er, couple of weeks’, work. Bill Robinson has appeared on CNN, PBS, Bloomberg and had his own segment on SKY News commenting on high-tech and marketing issues and has written columns and articles for FORTUNE Small Business, The Financial Times, Marketing Magazine (UK), Forbes.com, The Moscow Times, Cisco Systems iQ Magazine, United Airline's Hemispheres Magazine and Upside Magazine. Bill may be reached at bill@relentlessmarketing.com.
Team Register, 21 Nov 2005

Online poker firms at daggers drawn

Empire Online is considering legal action against PartyGaming after takeover talks between the two fell through. The online poker firm said it had terminated talks because PartyGaming's revised valuation was far too low. The original offer would have valued Empire Online at ten per cent of the total share capital of the merged company. Empire Online has seen its share price fall by half since the approach was first made in early November. Part of the dispute relates to PartyGaming's decision to block users of "skin" services from playing each other back in October. Empire Online believes this decision caused it damage. According to the statement: "Having received legal advice, the Directors intend to institute and vigorously pursue legal proceedings as soon as possible." The company said it would continue to pursue its high growth targets while also looking at "commercial strategic opportunities". It believes it can deliver profits for the year ending 31 December in line with market expectations. Empire Online has a history of being jilted at the altar. Sportingbet was in talks about a possible takeover which fell through in September.® Read the rest of the RNS statement here.
John Oates, 21 Nov 2005
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Computacenter founders may buy back firm

Computacenter founders Peter Ogden and Philip Hulme have offered to buy the company back from its shareholders. Computacenter shares jumped six per cent on Friday on rumours of the management buyout. The board of Computacenter issued a statement that it had received a prelimary proposal from a group led by Peter Ogden. The bid group controls 44.2 per cent of Computacenter shares. The statement continued: "An Independent Committee of the Board has been formed to consider the proposal, consisting of Nick Cosh and Cliff Preddy (the independent non-executive directors). The Independent Committee is being advised by HSBC Bank Plc." The statement stressed that discussions are at an early stage and there is no certainty any offer will be made. The UK's largest reseller has been on the stock market since 1998 when it floated for £1.2bn. But pressure on margins from its main hardware supplier HP has made business harder. In September chairman Ron Sandler warned that lower margins, vendors chasing direct sales from big accounts and lower rebates would have a permanent impact on UK business.®
John Oates, 21 Nov 2005
globalisation

RM ups profits on flat revenues

Schools provider RM posted flat turnover but a ten per cent increase in profits for the year ended 30 September 2005. The prelimary results reveal turnover for the period was £263m, the same as last year, but profits were up 11 per cent to £12.8m, from £11.6m in 2004. Profit before tax but after goodwill payments was £5.5m, down from £7.1m last year. Accounting changes mean RM has changed the way it accounts for goodwill coming from acquisitions. CEO Tim Pearson, said the company had done well against a background of tough market conditions. He said: "The start of the new financial year has been mixed for RM. We have been appointed preferred bidder for a £6.4 million BSF (Building Schools for the Future) ICT contract - the first to be announced. However, the budget pressures evident in our individual schools market since the start of the new academic year have continued." More details here.®
John Oates, 21 Nov 2005
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Dell 'sourcing AMD-based PCs from Taiwan'

Dell has contracted three Taiwanese manufacturers to supply it with PCs based on AMD processors, the Asian press has claimed. According to Chinese Language newspaper Economic Daily News this past weekend, Asus, Quanta and Hon Hai Precision (aka Foxconn) are all developing AMD-based systems for Dell. Their specialisms suggest the PC giant is buying desktops, notebooks and servers, respectively.
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005
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Intel files for 'Intel Core' trademark

Intel has formally applied to trademark the phrase 'Intel Core', a key component of what is believed to be its forthcoming move to re-brand its processor product lines. The trademark registration request - serial number 78714166 - was filed on 15 September 2005, but according to the US Patents and Trademarks Office website is "not yet assigned to an examining attorney".
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005

Intelligent design 'not science', says Vatican astronomer

Intelligent Design is not science, and has no place in science lessons, according to the Vatican's chief astronomer, the Rev. George Coyne. According to the Italian news agency, ANSA, Father Coyne was speaking informally at a conference in Florence when he said that intelligent design "isn't science, even though it pretends to be." He argued that if it is to be taught in schools, then it should be taught in religion or cultural history classes, but that it should not be on the science curriculum. Proponents of intelligent design argue that life on Earth is just too complex to have arisen without the aid of some kind of designer. ID's critics point out that its main tenets are highly unscientific and untestable, and say that it is merely creationism in disguise. Father Coyne has consistently argued against regarding intelligent design as scientific. In June he wrote in Catholic magazine The Tablet: "If they respect the results of modern science, and indeed the best of modern biblical research, religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God or a designer God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly." God, he wrote, is not "continually intervening, but rather allows, participates, loves". Meanwhile, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn has re-entered the debate, also arguing that the biblical story of creation is not a scientific theory. However, he called for reason in a debate he says has become too ideological, and seemed to criticism those who would "believe" in evolution as a dogma. He argues that it should not be seen as "an offense to Darwin's dignity" for people to offer criticisms of evolutionary theory. "The theory of evolution is a scientific theory," he said. "What I call evolutionism is an ideological view that says evolution can explain everything in the whole development of the cosmos, from the Big Bang to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Nov 2005
For Sale sign detail

Intel 65nm 'Yonah' to ship at 2.16GHz

Intel's upcoming 65nm, dual-core notebook chip, 'Yonah', will ship as the Pentium M T2600, computer manufacturer moles have claimed. The sources, cited by Japanese-language website PCWatch, claim the T2600 will be clocked at a mere 2.16GHz. It will be accompanied by the T2500, T2400 and T2300 - all dual-core parts, hence the '2' -clocked at 2GHz, 1.83GHz and 1.66GHz, respectively. Intel has already said it will offer a single-core Yonah - it will ship as the 1.66GHz Pentium M 1300.
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005

Demon scores broadband ton

Demon - the internet business owned by Scottish telco Thus - has more than 100,000 broadband punters, it reported today. The increase of 30,000 or so high speed net users on the year helped push broadband revenues up 24 per cent to £17.4m. Snag is, the telco continues to be hit by a fall in narrowband revenues as punters ditch dial-up for high speed connections. As a result, total internet turnover at Thus fell 3 per cent to £43.6m. Overall, the telco racked up £176.8m in revenues for the first six months to September, down from £177.5m on the same period last year. But operating losses fell 75 per cent down to £5.8m compared with £23.3m last year as the telco managed to reduce overheads and attract new public sector and corporate customers including Brewin Dolphin, British Waterways and Cheshire County Council. And just as it said two months ago when it delivered its last update, Thus is still on the look-out for possible mergers and acquisitions. "We confirm our intent to explore and capitalise on opportunities from industry consolidation but only if these opportunities create value for our shareholders and accelerate our business plan to generate a return on capital employed," said the company in a statement. By mid morning shares were up a halfpenny at 15p. ®
Tim Richardson, 21 Nov 2005

DVD Forum approves twin rewriteable HD DVD formats

Re-recordable HD DVD discs will be branded 'HD DVD-RW', the DVD Forum confirmed at its most recent steering committe last week. But in a move which would seem to be calculated to win support from as many firms as possible, the Forum also said re-writeable discs will be branded 'HD DVD-RAM'. They were originally supposed to be called 'HD DVD-RW'.
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005
fingers pointing at man

Insuring IT security

Quocirca’s Changing ChannelsQuocirca’s Changing Channels There is little difference between the aims of IT security and insurance. Businesses make investments in both because they know they have to and it would be irresponsible not to. IT security products are purchased to protect against threats that it is hoped will never occur. In the same way, when we insure our houses, we do not intentionally burn them down (OK, there are some exceptions). Investment in IT security needs to be proportionate to risk and the problems that arise if it fails. In some cases the actuality is more serious for some organisations than others. It is worthwhile for a bank to take the step of storing customer data as encrypted because if the data falls into the wrong hands there is the potential for financial loss, brand damage if the media find out and legal consequences arising from breeching regulations. The copy for this article was not stored as encrypted, because if it fell into the wrong hands – most likely by theft of the notebook PC it has been stored on – it is very unlikely that the thief would submit it in their own name. The thief is more likely to delete this article and all the rest of the content stored on the PC before selling the device on. Quocirca is insured against the loss of the device, but if the article was written since the last backup, it will have to be rewritten, so there is potential loss of analyst time. But this does not justify the cost of encrypted storage software. For the bank, investing in encryption software is problematic. Its data is valuable to the bank and its customers but also to thieves. The later might seek to break the encryption algorithms to get hold of the data. So, the bank then has to evaluate stronger encryption products and invest in the one it deems up to the job. Encryption is not for all, but basic security products like firewalls and anti-virus should be – and here there is huge choice, wide ranging quality and price differences. How does a business select the most appropriate level of protection at the best price? This is best viewed from the threat angle. A business buys anti-virus software to ensure its computer networks do not become infected with certain types of malware. It wants a level of assurance from the anti-virus supplier that its products will provide this. The top vendors will identify viruses early and accept the consequences if they do not. For example Trend Micro, an IT security company, offers a Virus Response Service alongside its anti-virus software. If the anti-virus software fails they will come and clean up the mess within 2 hours and if they fail to do this they will provide financial compensation. This sounds as much like insurance as IT security. In fact, there are insurance companies like ACE, whose Dataguard product does insure against the consequences of the failure of IT security. Why bother with IT security investment at all if you can just as easily buy insurance? Well obviously ACE would not insure a completely unprotected network, so they require that basic security measures such as anti-virus and firewalls are in place. But that is as far as it goes; ACE does not recognise that some products are more secure than others. Perhaps it should. Better anti-virus, firewalls etc. mean less risk and less likelihood that the insurance will have to pay out. Trend Micro offers financial compensation, not because it has cash to burn, but because it is confident that its products and services will work in the first place. Analysts like to talk about convergence – and why not the convergence of IT security and insurance. Better security would mean lower premiums for the residual threat from a security breach and businesses continuity is covered even when IT security fails. Trend Micro and ACE both offer examples of where this convergence is starting to happen, if it goes mainstream the market will recognise the better IT security products and offer lower insurance premiums when they are in place. Who knows if IT vendors or insurance companies will further embrace this in the near future, but as with all types of convergence the channel need not wait – resellers could just offer the combined offering themselves. Copyright © 2005, Bob Tarzey is a service director at Quocirca focussed on the route to market for IT products and services in Europe. Quocirca (www.quocirca.com) is a UK based perceptional research and analysis firm with a focus on the European market.
Bob Tarzey, 21 Nov 2005
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Patchy response to reducing security exposure

Enterprises have improved their patching practices over the last 12 months but two out of three (70 per cent) are currently vulnerable and in jeopardy of potential exploit or attack, according to a study by on-demand vulnerability management firm Qualys. Qualys's third annual Laws of Vulnerabilities research shows organisations have improved patching processes on internal systems by 23 per cent and on external systems by 10 per cent. In the last year, the half-life of critical vulnerabilities (the time it takes users to patch half of their systems) for external systems has been reduced from 21 days to 19 days and from 62 days to 48 days for internal systems. Vulnerabilities released on a predefined schedule (such as Microsoft's monthly Patch Tuesday) witnessed an 18 per cent increase in patch response. However, the time it take hackers to develop security exploits is also shrinking faster than the remediation cycle. The vast majority (85 per cent) of damage from automated attacks occurs within the first fifteen days from the outbreak. According to Qualys, 90 per cent of vulnerability exposure is caused by 10 per cent of critical security bugs, which frequently lend themselves to the creation of computer worms. There has also been a significant shift from server-side to client-side vulnerabilities. More than 60 per cent of new critical vulnerabilities occur in client applications, such as web browsers. "2005 has been the year of improvements for patching and updating vulnerable systems," said Gerhard Eschelbeck, CTO at Qualys. "This is heavily driven by the fact that vendors like Microsoft and others are now issuing regular advisories with patch updates, which ends up speeding the prioritisation and remediation efforts within organisations." "There's still room for improvement in prioritising patching which, even allowing for time to test patches, can be brought down to 14 to 15 days. Industry developments such as improved remediation through programs such as Network Access Control can also reduce security exposure," he added. Qualys's research is designed to identify network security trends and compare their remediation efforts with the rest of the industry. This year, the Laws of Vulnerabilities was drawn from a statistical analysis of nearly 21m critical vulnerabilities, collected from 32m live network scans, the largest sample to date. Full findings of the research can be found here. ®
John Leyden, 21 Nov 2005
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Atsco warns on foreign BOFHs

ATSCO, the lobby group for temp agencies, says 22,000 "foreign" IT staff were given visas to work in the UK in the last year. Atsco defines "foreign" as outside the EC, and Indian workers made up 85 per cent of successful visa applications between June 2004 and June 2005. In second place is the US with 1,081 successful applicants. The group said the figures showed movement of jobs was now a two-way process - some low-paid jobs are still being offshored to India but equally some high-paying jobs in the UK are being filled by foreign staff being brought "onshore". Atsco said the figures were the first evidence in the UK of multinational companies recruiting workers in low cost markets and transferring them to high cost markets. Ann Swain, chief executive of Atsco, said: "Skills shortages continue to be a major pull factor in bringing foreign IT workers to the UK, but the concern is that some organisations may be taking advantage of the visa system to import cheap labour from abroad." The figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from Work Permits UK - the Home Office department which grants visas. Atsco believes the number of Indian staff coming to the UK on intra-company transfers has also risen in recent years.®
John Oates, 21 Nov 2005

Where have all the physics teachers gone?

The government must take urgent action to combat a chronic shortage of physics teachers, the Institute of Physics said today, as a report links a steep decline in the number of A-level physics students with a lack of expert physics instructors coming into the profession. The report, written by Professor Alan Smithers and Dr Pamela Robinson from the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, says that government initiatives to recruit more specialist physics teachers are failing. It also stresses that biology and chemistry graduates teaching general science need better support and more training to help them when they are teaching their students physics. Professor Peter Main, director of education and science at the Institute of Physics argues that the government must set recruitment targets for individual sciences, not just for graduates from any science subject. "We urgently need to recruit more specialist physics teachers. There are far fewer physicists going into teaching than chemists or biologists," he said. "This report clearly shows that pupils being taught physics by non-specialists are not performing as well. Professional development for non-specialists must be seen as a priority by both schools and the government." As many as 30 per cent of current physics teachers are due to retire in the next ten years, and the IoP warns that if the issue of recruitment is not addressed, this will have "major ramifications" for the country's economy, according to a press statement. "The number of trained physicists entering teaching will not be large enough to repair the damage for the foreseeable future," Main continued, before again calling on the government to make support for non-specialist teachers a priority. "Government should provide ring-fenced funding and incentives to allow non-specialist teachers to get the training and support for teaching physics that they need," he added. For more information on what the IoP itself is doing about this issue, point your browser here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Nov 2005

Rogue diallers fingered by Ofcom

Ofcom is looking to clamp down on rogue diallers by closing existing loopholes. Existing Premium Rate Services (PRS) regulation only applies to rogue diallers using 09 premium rate or international numbers. Instead, Ofcom is proposing to take action against any rogue dialler - software that hijacks computers and dials expensive numbers racking up massive bills for their owners - regardless of what type of number is called. No doubt critics of the regulator will question why such loopholes existed in the first place and why Ofcom has only suggested introducing this safeguard now. According to the latest info available, complaints about rogue diallers have plumetted. Much of this is down to the shift from dial-up services to broadband, but PRS regulator ICSTIS can't help but also take some of the credit. "By Autumn 2005 we had achieved a 99 per cent reduction in the enquiry and complaint levels linked to Internet dialler services," said the latest activity plan from ICSTIS. "This was achieved through effective crisis management and partnership management with originating networks, Ofcom, DTI, trade bodies and others including the police." So, Ofcom's "Action on rogue internet diallers" which is open for consultation until December 22 looks...better late than never. ®
Tim Richardson, 21 Nov 2005

Chinese float liquid condom concept

China's first liquid condom went on sale today after the country's health and drugs administration formally gave the hi-tech prophylactic the thumbs-up, the China Daily reports. Dubbed the Nanometer-silver Cryptomorphic Condom (NCC), it's designed for female rather than male usage. The condom-in-a-can is essentially an antiseptic foam spray that the manufacturer claims forms a physical membrane inside the vagina, protecting it from infection, acting as a barrier to pregnancy and providing a lubricating effect. It's not known who makes the NCC, but Beijing-based Chinese-Canadian condom maker Blue Cross Biomedical has been touting something along these lines for a while now. It maintains its spray-in condom "can effectively kill gynaecological disease pathogens such as staphylococcus aureus, Candida, coliform bacillus, and can prevent sexually transmitted diseases. "It can remain in the vagina for a long time without destroying the vagina's chemical balance," the company adds. "Daily use of this product can help maintain genital hygiene and prevent infection by pathogens". The condom's antibacterial properties presumably arise from the nano-particles of silver incorporated into the spray. Or do they? In South Korea last week, the Korea Consumer Protection Board (KCPB) lambasted local washing machine vendors for claiming their products, which are coated internally - not unlike... - with a nano-silver spray, kill 99.9 per cent of germs in the wash. Not quite, said the KCPB - it's the hot washing water that's killing the bacteria, not the coating. And, judging by the photo, we can't help thinking at least some customers will find applying the product more stimulating that actually putting it through its paces. Making whether it actually works or not a somewhat moot point. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005
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Gaffer tape defeats Sony DRM rootkit

UpdatedUpdated Sony's controversial DRM technology - which installs rootkit-style software when users play Sony BMG CDs on Windows PCs - can be defeated easily with nothing more than a piece of masking tape, security researchers have discovered. Sony BMG has endured a public-relations and legal nightmare after it emerged digital rights management (DRM) software installed on some of its music CDs (First4Internet XCP program) created a handy means for hackers to hide malware from anti-virus scanning programs. Under pressure, Sony has been forced to recall discs loaded with the technology and create an exchange program for consumers. The music label still faces class action lawsuits by users who allege that their PCs have been damaged by the technology. Now analyst house Gartner has discovered that the technology can be easily defeated simply by applying a fingernail-sized piece of opaque tape to the outer edge of the disc. This renders session two — which contains the self-loading DRM software — unreadable. "The PC then treats the CD as an ordinary single-session music CD, and the commonly used CD 'rip' programs continue to work as usual. Moreover, even without the tape, common CD-copying programs readily duplicate the copy-protected disc in its entirety," Gartner (which is at pains to say it doesn't endorse the use of rip technology) explains. So Sony's DRM technology is not going to prevent tech-savvy home users - much less pirates - from copying CDs to their heart's content even though it loads "stealth" software onto the PCs of the less informed. "After more than five years of trying, the recording industry has not yet demonstrated a workable DRM scheme for music CDs," Gartner concludes. It reckons the music industry will abandon attempts to encumber CDs with DRM software and refocus its efforts on pushing legislation to require that DRM technology be integrated into PCs. ® Update Placing gaffer tape on the edge of a CD may make it unbalanced and could cause damage to the disc or (worse) drive as it spins at high speed. A better option, as Reg readers point out, might be to disable Windows autorun.
John Leyden, 21 Nov 2005

ZyXel ZyAir AG-225H Wi-Fi sniffer

ReviewReview There may be plenty of wireless hotspots in the UK but they're not always that well advertised, making it a real pain for mobile workers looking for a quick Internet fix. Windows XP and its zero configuration wireless features make life a lot easier but this still means firing up your notebook to see what's available. ZyXel's new AG-225H could be the answer as this little baby is a combined wireless network locator, 802.11a/b/g USB adapter and access point as well. We've heard the device being likened by some to a wireless sniffer but this isn't strictly correct as the device merely displays basic information about the networks it finds and doesn't have the ability to intercept wireless data packets.
Dave Mitchell, 21 Nov 2005

Londoners, roll up for your free leadership training

Site offerSite offer El Reg has teamed up once again with Internet Exchange to offer 50 readers free training online. This time around, Internet Exchange has secured funding from BusinessLink London to deliver free leadership and management training worth £1,000 to directors or senior managers of small and medium-sized businesses (under 250 employees) based in London. Sign-up details are here. Now for some bumf: The programme is designed to help business leaders who have a significant part to play in the success and growth of their business. Its aim is to identify exactly what their needs are and to assist in meeting those needs. The courses cover a wide range of subjects including Project Management, Finance for managers, Personal development, E-Business, HR, Administration, Business strategy and Operations. Included with the training is a free Training Needs Analysis that highlights which courses would be the most useful. This analysis is done at the recipients office so that the whole process is as convenient as possible. Interested parties can access a demo of some courses on the website. Interested? Call Tanya Koch on 0208 742 4000 or bung her an email on Tanya.koch@internet-exchange.co.uk. ®
Team Register, 21 Nov 2005

French woman tried to pop out for mid-flight ciggie

A French woman nearly disappeared in a real cloud of smoke when she tried to open the door of an airliner so she could pop out for a mid-flight fag. The BBC reports that Sadrine Helene Sellies has an acute fear of flying, and on a long flight from Hong Kong to Brisbane, resorted to a traditional Gallic remedy – sleeping tablets washed down with alcohol. That little cocktail certainly did the trick. In fact, Sellies' sense of fear was so dulled that she thought it would be a good idea to pop out for a relaxing fag. She was seen heading for one of the emergency exits clutching her lighter and tabs. Sellies began “tampering” with the door and was only prevented from enjoying her last cigarette by a sharp-eyed flight attendant – perhaps she was concerned that Sellies had cracked open the duty free mid-flight. Sellies subsequently pleaded guilty to endangering the safety of an aircraft at Brisbane Magistrates Court. She was hit with a AUS$1,000 good behaviour bond. If she makes another attempt to join the mile-high smoking club in the next year, she’ll forfeit the dosh. Presumably the bench looked kindly on Sellies’ defense – her brief said the hapless Madame had no memory whatsoever of the incident. We’re pretty sure a couple of hundred other passengers are wishing they could erase the incident from their memories too.®
Team Register, 21 Nov 2005

Cellcos failing deaf people, says charity

Ofcom has come under fire from the RNID - the charity which represents nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK - for failing to enforce legislation that would improve the lives of disabled people. As a result, the charity claims, deaf and hard of hearing people are being treated like second-class citizens and are being excluded from mobile services. In 2003, a series of obligations called General Conditions of Entitlement were introduced and applied to "anyone who provides an electronic communication service or an electronic communications network". As part of General Condition 15 (GC15), telcos (and for the first time cellcos) had to offer mobile access to text relay services such as RNID Typetalk, the UK text-to-voice relay service for deaf people. Typetalk allows people to communicate via a phone using trained operators to act as a go-between hearing and deaf people. A deaf person taps out their message on a textphone (a phone with a built-in keyboard) and the text is then read aloud by the operator to a hearing person. In return, the operator will convert any voice reply into text that can be read by the deaf person on a textphone. Typetalk handles more than 35,000 calls a week, which the RNID says illustrates just how vital this service is for many people. Yet, the charity maintains that the failure of mobile companies to comply with the GC15 legislation means that deaf people are unable to use Typetalk via their mobiles. According to Ofcom, Vodafone, Orange (and more recently O2) are already offering a service. As for the others, T-Mobile says it believes that it is "compliant with General Condition 15, except in the provision of real-time text/voice calls" and expects to unveil its solution by the end of the year. Ofcom is currently "in dialogue" with 3 at the moment. A spokesman for the regulator said the 3G operator was experiencing "teething troubles" and that no concrete date has as yet been set for when its service will become available. According to the RNID (The Royal National Institute for Deaf People), only one operator - Vodafone - currently has a system in place which is of any real practical benefit for people with hearing problems. Vodafone's service is based on a Nokia Communicator 9210i which includes a built-in keyboard. Orange's answer is plug a portable textphone into an existing handset to make calls. O2 also looking to promote a similar system but it has yet to begin publicising the service on its web site. However, the RNID is critical of this approach since it means deaf people have to carry around two devices if they want to make calls. The charity maintains this is as "silly as asking a hearing person to carry around a desktop phone" to plug into their mobile. Said Guido Gybels, Director of New Technologies at RNID: "In a world where the ability to communicate effectively is so important to participate as a citizen, the failure of these mobile companies to offer real, usable mobile solutions that would make a real difference to people with a profound hearing loss, is appalling. Technical solutions that are economically feasible have been around for years, yet most operators simply refuse to implement them. Vodafone is the only operator offering a mobile textphone. All operators should follow the Vodafone example and we also urge Ofcom to use their influence to bring about change, so that textphone users can become fully enabled UK citizens." Orange defended its position, insisting that it's considered the different technical options on offer and has concluded that its approach makes the most sense. "The solution offered by Orange requires two pieces of equipment to make a Textphone call," said a spokeswoman. "We believe that this offers customers the maximum possible flexibility by allowing them to carry a single small mobile device for sending text messages, (and email on some Orange devices, such as the SPV) etc., whilst also retaining a keyboard that is large enough to be able to easily hold a Textphone conversation. "Whilst we investigated stand alone mobile devices, we concluded that the vast majority of mobile devices had keyboards which were too small for a Textphone call of any significant duration. Should an alternative device become available at some point in the future which meets our customers' needs better, we will be happy to investigate such alternatives if there is sufficient commercial demand." But this fails to impress Gybels: "It is perfectly feasible to offer mobile text telephony on current handsets and with current networks. The real issue is that operators are not prepared to spend even one penny on something they see as a burden, not an opportunity. "What annoys me and many others is this patronising tone of some other operators. It is not up to them to tell deaf people what deaf people need. Deaf people want to be as mobile in their communications as hearing people are. "Telling them to carry around a desktop textphone is as silly as asking a hearing person to carry around a desktop phone. There are several handsets around that offer excellent keyboards for text communication while on the move and there are proper mobile keyboards to connect to them, like Bluetooth foldable keyboards or even one that project a full keyboard on a flat surface and is no bigger than a cigarette lighter." For its part, Ofcom argues that while there is a specific requirement for mobile operators to offer access to text relay services, operators are facing technical challenges. "We're continuing to talk to operators and work with them as quickly as is possible," he said.
Tim Richardson, 21 Nov 2005
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Nigerian fraud duo jailed for 37 years

Two Nigerian fraudsters have been jailed for a total of 37 years following their conviction for involvement in what has been described as the biggest scam in the West African Country's history. Emmanuel Nwude was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment and Nzeribe Okoli to 12 years imprisonment after they plead guilty to conspiring to defraud a Brazilian bank of $242m (£141m). The duo will also forfeit $121.5m in compensation to victims of their scam, which resulted in the collapse of Sao Paolo-based Banco Noroeste. A third fraudster, Amaka Anajemba, who was jailed for two and a half years after agreeing to pay $48.5m in compensation. The crooks milked millions from staff at the Banco Noroeste by offering huge commissions in return for brokering a non-existent construction contract to build an airport in Nigeria's capital Abuja. "The activities of the accused persons not only led to the collapse of a bank in a foreign country, but also brought miseries to many innocent people," said Justice Joseph Oyewole, Reuters reports. The convictions are the first by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), established two years ago to combat the country's burgeoning trade in email scams. EFCC said it has arrested more than 200 email scam suspects since 2003, secured a dozen convictions and confiscated property worth $200m. ®
John Leyden, 21 Nov 2005

ITU refuses to accept net governance agreement

The ITU has refused to accept the internet governance consensus reached after torrid negotiations during its own summit process, further damaging its credibility in eyes of the net community. Speaking at the closing press conference for the World Summit in Tunis, ITU secretary-general Yoshio Utsumi said that while it would continue to discuss issues in the newly created Internet Governance Forum (IGF), an increased "regionalisation" of the internet would mean the ITU will be called upon to take over in five years' time. "The internet need not be one Net controlled by one centre," he said. "Regionalisation has already started and I suspect in a few years, the simile of the internet will be a quite different one." As an example of this "regionalisation", Utsumi, a Japanese national, brought up the controversial topic of China's efforts to create a form of intranet within its country in order to more easily control access to information. "In China, they have already started on a Chinese address not provided by the so-called global ICANN system yet." Claiming that domestic networks were "more efficient and economical", he then tried to draw a parallel to the existing telephone system, saying: "Telephone networks are made up of regional, domestic networks united together in agreement of the ITU framework. A similar situation may start with the internet." And, in that case, "the role that the ITU plays for the international telephone network will be called upon." The statement is a depressing pointer to the fact that the four-year debate on net governance, which ended in agreement on Tuesday with only hours to go, may have achieved very little. Utsumi effectively said that the international consensus reached was the wrong one. It is the second time recently that the outgoing head of ITU has made a major blunder with regard to net governance. At the end of September's PrepCom meeting in Geneva, Utsumi told the assembled world governments that the ITU was ready to take over running of the internet. It was this bold and unthinking statement that lent much of the power behind the subsequent lobbying for the existing infrastructure to be retained - a view that eventually prevailed. There are very strong historic reasons why people do not wish the ITU to be involved with the internet in anything but an advisory role. If it were up to the ITU, the internet as we know it - a vast, cheap, interconnected network - simply would not exist. In the early days of the net, the ITU saw the network as an extension of the international telephone network that it oversees. It foresaw - and heavily pushed - the image of a network where governments and telephone companies controlled the means of access, something that would have resulted in enormous connection charges and greatly reduced individual freedom on the Net. In many ways, the ITU is the antithesis of the culture borne up through the dedicated engineers and academics that created the Net and for that reason the organisation will remain public enemy number one in many people's eyes. Utsumi's comments will not only uphold that view but strengthen it because they come after an exhaustive discussion process that clearly rejected the notion of ITU control. It will now be up to the new head of the ITU, to be chosen in just under a year's time, to try to repair bridges if the ITU is to have any credibility within the internet community. You can listen to Utsumi's exact words here. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Nov 2005

Reg saves World Summit with multi-million-pound commitment

The Register has put its money where its mouth and saved the World Summit from being branded a waste of everyone's time. Yes, the United Nations has added our "commitment to provide the peoples of the world with excellent IT news coverage" to its official list of projects achieved under the WSIS process, called the Golden Book. Far from being an open database, without any checks or balances - which would of course have made the whole thing a nonsense - we are delighted to announce that ITU fact-checkers have pored over our application and decided that The Register's pledge to "put forward significant resources to producing and promoting news on all IT subjects for the perusal and enjoyment on any Internet user in the UK or anywhere in the world" is worthy of entry into the database. It is a great honour, especially since the head of ITU Yoshio Utsumi himself pointed to the Golden Book as the summation of everything that has been achieved at the Tunis World Summit. The Reg's pledge (no. 3483617) - listed as having been put forward by the UK government, even though we forgot to ask them - now joins the 200 or so other entirely reliable entries in the database and, we are pleased to say, is one of the largest monetary commitments there. Reviewers of the Golden Book will no doubt be pleased to know under other information that "the site's great", and will be excited to realise that our partners in this enterprise will be "journalists, alcoholics and cuddly animals". So that settles once and for all the question over what has actually been achieved by this entire summit process. With our commitment coming in between one million and ten million euros, it may just have tipped the balance between the money realised from what the summit purported to promote, and the amount actually spent on hosting it. You can see the full commitment on the ITU's website here. Why not add your own and help the process along? ® Related link Register commitment no. 3483617
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Nov 2005

Napster launches XM tie-in software

Napster and satellite radio company XM today provided the first glimpse of the results of their strategic alliance, announced in July. XM's 5m US subscribers can now grab a public beta release of the XM+Napster software that connects Internet-streamed radio broadcasts to digital music downloads. The application tunes into and plays over 80 XM Radio Online-hosted music channels and allows listeners to buy songs from Napster that they've just heard on the radio. XM subscribers can pay a monthly subscription fee for unlimited-but-tethered downloads or they can purchase individual songs on a one-off basis. How often XM listeners will purchase recently heard songs remains to be seen. With so many music channels available, we're sure XM listeners may quickly find that they're downloading less and less stuff once the novelty wears off. After all, music is about listening, not possession - something too many P2P advocates appear to forget - and with a decent channel to tune in to - Radio Paradise is our personal favourite - it's surprising easy to find yourself spending less time listening to albums. And that means spending less money on them, which may not be the result Napster is looking for. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005

This is how a government-filtered internet looks

There been alot of argument in Tunis during the World Summit over the fact that the government filters internet access to remove websites it doesn't like. We thought we'd show you what it looks like if you're on the end of it. As such, here is a screengrab of the Swissinfo.org site as seen from the Tunisian perspective. It is a fake 404 page, implying that the site doesn't exist. It does of course, except by using a piece of software from US company Secure Computing, called SmartFilter, the Tunisian internet agency ATI can click it out of existence - at least for its own citizens. The Saudi Arabian version of this internet filtering, which uses the same software, is more honest about its approach and replaces the 404 message with a "Forbidden Content" page. All ISPs in Tunisia are forced to run their traffic through ATI, which then watches where its citizens go and checks out what is on the other end. If it doesn't like what it sees - usually criticism of the government - it simply blocks the site altogether. There are a large number of sites it does this to, including Reporters Sans Frontieres (www.rsf.fr), Tunisian opposition political party CPR (www.cprtunisie.com), and Tunisian human rights organisation LTDH (www.ltdh.org), but the one that caused the biggest ruckus this week was Swiss news website Swissinfo.org, which was added to the list while the summit was still going on because it printed details of its president's speech. The speech was very critical of the Tunisian's government censoring and, ironically and inevitably, was itself was censored across Tunisia. This whole process, incidentally, is extra-legal. That is, there is nothing in Tunisian law that allows the government to do this, and it continues to pretend that it offers a "free and open internet" to its citizens. But, it would seem from having toured around the Tunisian version of the Internet for a few hours that you need only worry about being effectively wiped off the map if you are writing in French (and possibly Arabic). There are al ot of Tunisians, especially among the young, that speak enough English to broadly understand what is being said, but it seems that the censors at the ATI haven't benefited from the same education and English websites have so far escaped the Net (pun intended). And so the Internet finds another way around efforts to control it. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Nov 2005

Light regulation will beat child porn, says trade minister

Light-touch regulation, minimal legisation and a close working relationship with business is the answer to the net's problems, not least child pornography, according to UK secretary of state for trade Alun Michael. Speaking to us at the World Summit, where he was the UK government's most senior representative, Michael said that working with industry on the child porn issue in particular had achieved more in one year that legislation could have done in five - and at minimal cost. "Light regulation is the way forward. And a partnership between government and industry, and government and the voluntary sector. If you get those relationships right, you can get further than with a top-down regulatory approach. "It’s not a soft approach, in many ways it’s a tough approach, but it’s one built on building relationships, building confidence and moving forward together." It was in government's own interest to work with business and civil society, rather than attempt to deal with the internet and the problems it throws up with new laws, he said. "Convergence of technologies makes it very difficult to have a rigid approach to regulation and to government. There are things that need to be dealt with - issues like international terrorism and child pornography - but our approach is light-touch regulation in co-operation with industry wherever possible. And we shouldn’t have regulation that anticipates problems that may never arise. Flexibility is very important." Part of that flexibility can come within government itself. Picking up an e-content World Summit Award for www.direct.gov.uk, Michael said the reason for its success was that it provided a simple "front door" for citizens wanting information. "An awful lot of people don’t necessarily want to now about the structures of government, and therefore which department to go to. What they want is the information that they need." Direct.gov.uk links 18 government departments, local and national with various agencies in one portal. With respect to the controversial issue of internet governance, Michael said it has shown the UK in the best light. "The UK has come out of this with a great deal of credit. We are leading the EU representation, we have managed to reach agreement across the EU on a single position. And we’ve ended up with a document coming out of the Summit - one that even at the quite late stages looked as if there would not be agreement - which has helped everyone to move forward." He acknowledged the intense lobbying effort of the US to maintain the existing structure, and also that UK business also pushed in the same direction. "Business was afraid that this conference would come out with something that would be unworkable, which would interfere with the way business could develop and expand. We're very pleased that we’ve come to the right outcome." In the end it was a matter of "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it", he said. "We feel there is a system that is working well at the moment. We recognise there are concerns, but the important thing is that people are talking to each other and listening to each other. "We know that the American had concerns, because they made them clear both publicly and privately, and that there were other countries that wanted to take things into a governance structure. What has come out of this is strengthened relationships, listening to each other, and a flexible strucutre that allows talking and listening to take place." As to the issue of human rights and freedom of expression on the internet, which also became a big topic at the summit, Michael declined to expand on the UK's official representations to the Tunisian government, stating only that: "Freedom of the internet is very important to us, and we have made that clear both on behalf of the EU and UK in the build-up to the conference and during it." Adding his weight to the sea-change in United Nations meetings (the Geneva and Tunis summits have been the first ever to include civil society as an equal member), he added: "The UN has made it clear that the involvement of civil society is absolutely basic to any country hosting a conference of this sort. Where it has been necessary for us to also make that clear, we have been willing to do so." ®
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Nov 2005

Sky demos HDTV in UK

The UK’s first and best blog devoted to High Definition TV - HDTVUK . From the makers of Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny. Sky demos HDTV Well the big news from Sky on HD is that there is no news, not yet anyway. The satellite broadcaster treated journos to a coffee or two in the wonderful Bar Italia – the place where John Logie Baird cracked television for the first time - and then shipped us over to Groucho's for the first ever live demo via satellite of its new service. But Sky stopped short of naming the day its service will launch and how much it will charge. The demo itself was pretty impressive with a large projector and several 40inch LCD screens carrying a trailer that showed clips from movies, documentaries and the Champions League final in HD. After the demo, Sky's Director of Customer Products and Services, Brian Sullivan, gave a fairly detailed speech about why Sky is launching HDTV and followed up with some reasonably candid responses to questions from the floor. Sky had originally planned to launch HD in 2008 but brought the debut forward because of the growing availability of both HD video cameras and flat screen TVs. The development of the MPEG4 video compression system also eased its bandwidth worries. The launch date will be announced in ‘the very near future’. We think that the hot money should be on spring 2006. Pricing details will be announced in the new year. Sullivan did stress though it ‘will be affordable to the mass market from day one.’ Later in the Q&A sesh Sullivan added that there would be more than one programme package, but that Sky was very keen on keeping the pricing simple. We think that subscribers will pay an extra £10 a month over their existing Sky subscription costs for the service. It will be a Sky+ box. There are no details on the size of the hard disk, but the hot money is on 300 Gigabytes. It'll certainly have more storage than the current model which has a 160 Gigabyte hard disk. Users will be able to watch one HD channel while recording another too. The box will also feature an Ethernet connector to enable it to connect with, hazarding a guess, a Sky Easynet broadband box which will most likely launch next year. This could download HD video to the box, or be used for interactive services. Sky Sports will feature the best of the action from Sky's four existing channels the vast majority of which will be in HD. The two movie channels will almost certainly be completely all HD, but the HD Sky One and the Artstworld channel may include some standard definition footage. Among the top HD shows for Sky One are 24, Stargate, Bones, and Over there. Sullivan suggested that there will be two third party channels at launch. As Sullivan pointed out the BBC and ITV owns the rights to the live coverage of the World Cup and Sky would obviously love for one, or indeed both broadcasters to make HD football games available via free to air satellite. ‘We are prepared to give them the full depth of our technical resources,’ he quipped. Other top stories on HDTVUK Sky’s push video-on-demand service Telewest to launch HDTV in December shocker State of HD in the UK
Tech Digest, 21 Nov 2005

Apple to spend $1.25bn to secure Flash supply

Apple has come clean on the much-rumoured but until today officially unconfirmed Flash memory supply deals it's banking on to continue pumping out iPod Nanos and Shuffles. The company also revealed it has sold more than 30m iPods since the player launched in November 2001. iTunes has sold more than 600m downloads. The Mac maker today announced it has signed "long-term supply agreements" with not only Hynix and Samsung - the two NAND Flash produces most closely connected with Apple - but also Intel, Micron and Toshiba.
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005
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Lockheed pulls out of CSC buy

Defence contractor Lockheed Martin is pulling out of discussions which could have led to it buying Computer Science Corporation (CSC). The defence supplier was leading a posse of private investors including Blackstone Group, Texas Pacific Group and Warbug Pincus. The original claim was that Lockheed would pick up the government contracts while commercial agreements would go to the other investors. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the original story, reports CSC wanted a starting price of $65 dollars a share, or a total value of $12bn - which proved too rich for the would-be buyers. CSC shares are currently changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange for $54.80. The deal was seen as bolstering Lockheed's traditional IT services business as well as bolstering its defence work which increasingly requires the support of a bundle of IT services and software.®
John Oates, 21 Nov 2005

Apple iPod sales pass 30m

Apple today said it has shipped more than 30m iPods since it launched the first member of its MP3 player family back in November 2001. That leaves it with just over a month to sell around 7m more - if it's to meet the 37m target set by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster earlier this month.
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005

Infinium CEO quits after 14 weeks

Kevin Bachus, the ex-Microsoft Xbox chief who took charge of online games service Infinium Labs in August, has quit the company after barely three months on the job. Stepping in to fill the now-vacant CEO post is Greg Koler, who was head of Infinium's European operations. Koler is now Interim CEO. He's also the company's CFO and President. He may even be the guy who makes the tea, too.
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005

No .eu domain for the Swiss

The Swiss won't be able to register for the ".eu" web domain when the European Union (EU) begins accepting registrations for internet addresses next month, even though the country is in the heart of Europe. EU regulations prohibit non-members from registering. Only people resident within the EU or undertakings having their registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the European Community can apply. Beat Fehr, head of one of two Swiss internet firms accredited to sell ".eu" addresses, now fears that cybersquatters may snap up Swiss names. Companies such as Nestle and Swatch may lose their .eu web names to foreigners. Fehr says that the ".eu" domain should be assigned to all European countries. But that is not likely to happen. According to Swissinfo The Swiss Federal Communications Commission sought talks with the EU, but to no avail. The Swiss are not the only people left in the cold. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are also non-EU members.®.;
Jan Libbenga, 21 Nov 2005
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Inter-Mediates goes bust

Another British software and games vendor has gone to the wall - thanks to the grim retail environment. Inter-Mediates Ltd, which traded as Special Reserve, is going into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation. A creditors meeting will be held 5 December. There will be a sale of remaining assets but creditors are unlikely to get much back. The Sawbridgeworth, Herts-based company operated several websites including: gameaday.co.uk, ukchatforums.com, ukcheats.com and ukwalkthroughs.com. Special Reserve offered discount games and gadgets to members of its website. The company also had eight shops in the south and midlands of England. The firm's websites currently carry an apology to customers and recomends they contact their credit or debit card provider if they've paid for goods or services which they are still waiting for. Eric Walls, director of insolvency practioners MarlorWalls, which is representing the firm, told the Reg: "They proposed a Creditors Voluntary Agreement on 29th September based on approval by creditors and an injection of further working capital. Despite sending out sixty information packs they could not find investment." Walls blamed the current retail environment for the firm's collapse. Anyone requiring more information is requested to email Julia at marlorwalls.co.uk More info on MCVhere.®
John Oates, 21 Nov 2005

Intel and Micron form Flash firm

Intel and Micron are to form a third company to make NAND Flash memory chips, the two companies announced today, almost as soon as Apple said it was paying $1.25bn to secure Flash supplies through 2010. Apple's largesse will be spread among five chip makers - Intel, Micron, Samsung, Toshiba and Hynix. Apple didn't say how the money would be shared out, but Intel and Micron have since said they're getting $250m each. The $500m will, in part, go into the formation of their joint venture, IM Flash Technologies, which will "exclusively manufacture product for Micron and Intel". The partners said a "significant portion" of each of their shares of IM's output will be delivered to Apple. Shareholders and regulators have to approve the deal, of course, but if they do it will become a legal entity by the end of the year. Intel and Micro will both put up $1.2bn in "cash, notes and assets" for IM, and then both contribute a further $1.4bn over the next three years and "make additional investments as appropriate to support the growth of the operation". IM will be 51 per cent owned by Micron and 49 per cent owned by Intel. It will begin production in Boise, Idaho, Micron's home town, though plants in Manassa, Virginia and Lehi, Utah will also be among IM's first fabs. Micron and Intel said IM will "aggressively" convert to its parents' 72nm and 50nm fabrication technology. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2005

Nuclear power: splitting the Cabinet?

The Cabinet could be headed for an embarrassing split over nuclear power as the UK establisment frets over the country's energy policy. Margaret Beckett, secretary of state for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), has warned that concerns about nuclear power have not all been resolved. She argues that in particular, the cost of building new stations has not been worked through fully. Although Beckett denies being anti-nuclear, her stance appears to put her at odds with the prime minister who is pressing ahead with plans to include nuclear power stations in the government's energy policy. Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser said this week that nuclear power must be included as an option if Britain is to reduce its CO2 emissions, but Beckett argues that nuclear power won't help Britain meet its short term targets - to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2010. She told The Politics Show: "There’s the cost, which has never really been properly explored. There is the issue of the waste and how we deal with it and what the consequences are of having new nuclear build." Meanwhile, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has lambasted the government's "incoherent" energy policy, saying that the government has failed to tackle any of the challenges identified in a 2003 white paper in energy. Digby Jones, director general of the group said that a third of the UK's energy resources will need to be replaced by 2020, The Times reports. "Government must grasp the nettle and make tough decisions," he said. Interested readers might want to wander over to the archive of George Monbiot's columns and read his recent thoughts on Sir David's position. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Nov 2005

Match.com accused of faking romance

Match.com has been sued by a man who says the online dating agency wrote him romantic emails and even sent him on a sham date with an attractive employee to encourage him to renew his subscription, Reuters reports California-resident Matthew Evans filed the suit in a Los Angeles District Court, and believes the actions represent a pattern of behaviour by the US company. His lawsuit is seeking class action status. Match.com denied that the firm pays staff to go on dates with subscribers or send them bogus emails. In a separate lawsuit, Yahoo! is accused of posting fictitious profiles of singles to its rival dating service. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 21 Nov 2005