1st > December > 2005 Archive
The American obsession with therapy may almost be considered as a neurosis in its own right. But quacks see promising material in a growing number of internet addicts. "6 percent to 10 percent of the approximately 189 million Internet users in this country have a dependency that can be as destructive as alcoholism and drug addiction, and they are rushing to treat it," reports the New York Times. Staff at an Illinois hospital said they see similar signs of withdrawal in net addicts patients as in alcoholics or drug addicts, including "profuse sweating, severe anxiety and paranoid symptoms". But is it so harmful? Something very strange is happening, to be sure. Consider the reaction around the web to a column in the Los Angeles Times this week by linguistics professor Naomi Baron. She expresses concern that the shallow nature of reading on the web diminished her students ability to reason. She's isn't the first to observe this. Academic researchers have found that net use creates a "problem solving deficit disorder" amongst children, and cognitive scientists have discovered the bombardment of email depletes IQ "faster than marijuana". Baron wrote, "If we approach the written word primarily through search-and-seizure rather than sustained encounter-and-contemplation, we risk losing a critical element of what it means to be an educated, literate society." Two years ago one would have expected bloggers to leap up on the Professor, admonish her for being a Luddite, and give her a generally thorough 'Fisking'. But instead her column provoked an outpouring of empathy. "It actually destroys brain cells or something, because if I've been doing too much online reading, I lose the patience for following a sustained or subtle argument, or reading a complex novel," wrote Body and Soul blog's 'Jeanne D'arc'. "As a fellow sufferer, lemme tell ya, the phenomenon that Jeanne D'arc is describing up there is real, and more than a little worrisome when you first notice it. It just feels so ... organic, somehow, like you've damaged a part of the brain itself," sympathizes blogger Jack O'Toole. " I'll run into a sentence that suddenly reminds me of something — and then spend the next minute staring into space thinking of something entirely unrelated to the book at hand. Eventually I snap back, but obviously this behavior reduces both my reading rate and my reading comprehension," writes journalist and blogger Kevin Drum. "Is this really because of blogging? I don't know for sure, but it feels like it's related to blogging, and it's a real problem. As wonderful as blogs, magazines, and newspapers are, there's simply no way to really learn about a subject except by reading a book - and the less I do that, the less I understand about the broader, deeper issues that go beyond merely the outrage of the day," he added. "I'm not sure if that argument really has any validity....Hey look, a bird!" adds a wag. Ironically, in a recent survey, 48.7 per cent of bloggers cited 'therapy' as their primary reason for maintaing a weblog. So this is a 'cure' that's turning out to be worse than the disease. "I need to get away from the fast and facile and let my brain heal," says Jeanne D'arc, recommending blog breaks. "It actually feels like recovering a bit of humanity that I forgot I had." If even bloggers are rejecting the Wibbly Web, and getting back to books, then things are taking a turn for the better. ®
Start-up hungry HP has fed on another software company, acquiring identity management specialist Trustgenix. HP currently taps Trustgenix as the basis of its OpenView Select Federation product and upon the close of the acquisition will make Trustgenix products a permanent addition to the OpenView portfolio. The start-up sells the IdentityBridge line of software for linking various identity management protocols. HP did not disclose financial terms of the deal and expects the buy to close in the next 30 days, pending on standard approvals. "Identity federation appeals strongly to companies in the telecommunications, financial services, manufacturing and government industries," said Todd DeLaughter, a vice president at HP. The OpenView Select Federation product can guide a user along different sites governed by the same security policies. This means that the user only needs to sign-in once to such a system and will have his preferences transferred to each site in the "federated" network. HP has been working to bolster its OpenView management software for a long time. Recently, it purchased AppIQ, RLX and Peregrine Systems as part of this OpenView quest. Away from the acquisition, it was revealed that Nora Denzel, HP's highest-ranking software executive, has resigned. As SVP and general manager of HP's software unit, the effervescent Denzel ran the show under previous CEO Carly Fiorina and appeared to be one of Fiorina's favorites. DeLaughter will take over her responsibilities for the time being. ®
Internet overseeing organisation ICANN has dimissed two lawsuits against it as "attempts to manipulate the public comment process" over future ownership of all dotcoms.
US District Judge James Spencer indicated today that he wants Research In Motion to settle its patent dispute with NTP once and for all. "I've spent enough of my life and time on NTP and RIM," said Judge Spencer earlier this month. With the Supreme Court turning down RIM's request to stay an injunction which might close down the Blackberry network, Spencer closed down two more legal options for the Canadian company, and instructed the lawyers to prepare arguments for suspending the service.
British think-tank the Institute For Public Policy Research wants to bring some reality to the digital copyright debate, with the publication of a report today designed to nudge the government in the right direction. The debate has been dominated by two unrepresentative extremes, argues IPPR's Will Davies, who authored the report titled Markets in the online public sphere. "The two sets of people who have dominated this debate, the rights holders and the geek utopians, are now describing completely different versions of the world," Davies told us in an interview. "We now have to knuckle down to hard econonic reality and stop looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses," he says. "We have to take the rights holders' concerns more seriously." "The debate we've heard puts the practical economics on one side of the argument, dominated by the content producers, and the fluffier, cultural issues on some other side. But it's not true that the economic logic is on the side of these content industries, and it's not true that the Open Access model has necessarily got the public interest at heart." You may remember his essay Circling The Wagons, debunking the frontier myths of the internet, from a year ago. In the new report, Davies notes: "At present, openness is exploited for piracy, while DRM is used to ring-fence content without prior public discussion or permission. The internet itself rarely offers the technical possibility of halfway houses between anarchy and control, so it falls to policy-makers and users to create these halfway houses normatively." It's odd that the debate has been dominated by these two soundbyte-friendly polarities, when the idea of copyright enjoys such popular support. But Davies' 21-page report does attempt to both widen the context of the subject in a way that offers some real guidance to policy makers, as well as tug it back from its US-centric perspective. "Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous writings on America in the early nineteenth century demonstrate the ambivalence a European feels in the face of a culture that maximises vibrancy and participation, but potentially at the expense of quality and memory,'" he notes. The report makes a strong case for the necessity of critical judgement in public policy. Government can't afford to simply leave questions to market forces. Although Shakespeare has been out of copyright for several hundreds years, er still need a publishing industry to provide the Bard's books, he reminds us. Not everything that can be saved is worth preserving, the report points out. "Critical judgement is needed to distinguish content that can be left to deteriorate from that which needs to be obtained and protected for the public interest. When this is still relatively recent, there can be considerable problems in obtaining the rights to this content. But this is an area of the public sphere quite unlike that of deliberation. Where democratic spaces rest on a relativist sense that everyone’s voice is of equal value, the normative foundations of heritage are that some forms of information are of intrinsic value, and others are not. There is a difference between ‘great works’ and lesser artefacts; some people’s thoughts are of timeless value, whereas others’ are of only ephemeral value, as deliberation. The question of who is to make this judgement is entirely separate (and it is not part of the remit of public libraries or archives to do so), but one way or another, qualitative judgements must be made." You'll be able to find a link to the report on the IPPR blog.®
Microsoft has released a free beta of its upcoming anti-virus application. According to Microsoft, the new anti-virus application known as Windows OneCare Live consumer beta is "like taking your PC in for a tune up at the service station". The release is part of the forthcoming Windows OneCare set of deliverables, and yesterday the OneCare team admitted that some users may be put on waiting lists while attempting to get the software in order for Microsoft to determine its effectiveness. Microsoft announced in May that it would be releasing an anti-virus application based on software developed by GeCad, a Romanian anti-virus company that Microsoft purchased several years ago. ® Copyright © 2005, SecurityFocus
CommentComment When I first heard about Computer Associates letting Ingres go my reaction was negative, to say the least. But having discussed the matter with CA I am not as concerned as I was, though questions still remain. The facts are simple: Ingres and OpenROAD will now be developed, managed and marketed by a new company called the Ingres Corporation, which has already been established. CA will hold a minority stake in this organisation and a number of the company’s staff have moved to the new company, which already has in excess of 100 employees. It is expected that the company will double in size over the next six months. As far as CA’s ongoing use of Ingres is concerned, it will continue to embed the database in its products. These fall into two categories: products where there is no current choice, such as eTrust Directory; and where there is choice, such as UniCenter, Ingres is the default option unless you prefer to use Oracle or SQL Server. This will continue to be the case. One thing that has not been decided is whether the OpenROAD development environment will also be moved into the Open Source community, as is the case with Ingres. CA has also assured me that it has no plans to sell off (or outsource, which would be another way of looking at this move) any of its other products and it says that such moves are likely to be extremely rare – the company says maybe one product every two years. Assuming that this is the case (and I have no reason to assume otherwise) then that should provide some sort of surety for users of other non-strategic products within CA’s portfolio. There are two remaining questions. The first is whether this move is good for Ingres users and for potential users of that product? My inclination is to suspect that it will at least be better than it might otherwise have been. The truth is that, the move to Open Source aside, CA has really done relatively little with Ingres since it acquired it so we can hope that we’ll see a faster pace of development in the future. Certainly, the fact that it is in the Open Source community should help: DATAllegro, in particular, has advanced the capability of the product since it started to use it. Whether Ingres can establish itself as a major competitor to MySQL and/or as the Open Source alternative to Oracle, remains to be seen. The second question remains as to why CA decided to take this action in the first place? The company says that it felt it was not best placed to take the product forward. I do not understand this answer. The company feels capable of taking ERWin forward, as well as its portal and ETL products; it feels capable of taking Datacom and IDMS forward; it feels capable of taking the Gen family of development tools forward – so why does it feel incapable of taking Ingres and OpenROAD forward? I can think of only one answer to this question: the company was not prepared to make the necessary commitment to Ingres. This raises two further issues: how committed will CA be to the Ingres Corporation on an ongoing basis? And what else might it decide it was not committed to? As I have already described, the company is making the right noises in answer to these questions but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Copyright © 2005, IT-Analysis.com
Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner has added his voice to those predicting Apple will announce a notebook computer based on an Intel processor in January 2006. "We are becoming more convinced that Apple will introduce its first Intel-based PowerBook at Macworld San Francisco," Gardner said in a note to clients, Reuters reports. It's hard to know whether Gardner has any specific information on the matter or is simply responding to the numerous claims regarding what Apple CEO Steve Jobs will unveil when he takes to the stage for his annual Macworld keynote.
Tiscali refused to give a pensioner an email addy with his own name - because part of it was deemed "offensive" by the ISP. Herbert Humphreys, 89, was so shocked by Tiscali's stand on the word "hump", he told his story to consumer affairs magazine Which?. "They said my name contains profanity, as it includes the word hump," Herbert told the mag. As a result the ISP said he couldn't have an email name bearing his surname. Asked to comment a spokeswoman for the ISP told us: "This is an automated part of our sign-up process designed to protect our users, ensure they stay within our acceptable use policy and prevent anyone creating an email identity that may be offensive to others. "This is constantly reviewed but by its nature will block certain harmless addresses," she said. Indeed. Just spare a thought for poor Mr and Mrs Cockerell from Scunthorpe who've just moved from Essex. They love gardening and are particularly fond of Alan Titchmarsh and read his books in earnest to ensure that Mrs Cockerell's prize bush is kept neatly trimmed. All completely harmless, you might think, but Tiscali's filters would be working overtime to keep out this unpleasant lot. ®
Intel's chipset supplies will remain "tight" throughout H1 2006, CFO Andy Bryant admitted yesterday. Speaking at the chip giant's manufacturing and technology summit yesterday, Bryant said the supply problems will continue through a "fair portion for the first part of next year", according to an EETimes report. Bryant said that Intel is looking to begin producing chipsets at its higher-yield, 300mm-wafer fabs during Q2 2006. Currently, its chipsets are produced in its 200mm-wafer fabs.
Prudential - the financial outfit with a majority stake in UK internet bank Egg - has completed a strategic about-turn by announcing plans to acquire the remaining slice of the business owned by shareholders. The Pru owns all but 21.7 per cent of Egg, and now wants the lot in a deal that would value the e-business at a shade under £1bn. Eighteen months ago the Pru slapped a "for sale" sign on Egg and after months of searching failed to find a buyer. It also legged it out of France following a rotten time there. In October, though, the Pru's new boss Mark Tucker announced plans to hang onto its stake in the business. Now he wants the lot because of "substantial opportunities" in the UK's financial services market. By folding Egg into Pru's existing UK business the firms reckons it can attract new punters and generate savings of £40m by 2007. Said Egg chief exec Paul Gratton: "There are considerable opportunities to grow Egg's revenues and profits within the Prudential Group, which will give us access to nearly 2.8 million additional marketable customers." By mid morning shares in Egg were up 13.83p (13.5 per cent) at 116.33p.
ExclusiveExclusive AOpen's Mac Mini-like Mini PC is coming to the UK next week, The Register can reveal, courtesy of an exclusive deal between the manufacturer and reseller Evesham. But while the machine may be compact, the price isn't: Evesham will want £699 including VAT for the MiniPC when it goes on sale on Monday, 5 December. That's rather more than the £359-499 Apple is charging for the comparably styled and sized Mac Mini. Like the Apple product, the MiniPC ships without a keyboard, mouse or monitor.
The release of a Trojan that exploits an unpatched IE hole has prompted speculation that Microsoft may release an emergency out-of-cycle security patch. The Delf-DH Trojan downloader uses an Internet Explorer vulnerability to infect unprotected Windows users who stray onto maliciously constructed websites. Delf-DH downloads other malware onto infected machines changing settings in order to monitor user activity and redirect surfers onto porn sites. The attack relies on a flaw in the way IE handles requests to the window() object, highlighted by proof-of-concept code last week and now used in anger by VXers. Even fully patched Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems are vulnerable. Until a patch is available to address this vulnerability, US-CERT strongly encourages Windows users to disable Active Scripting. Security experts at the SANS Institute Internet Storm Centre speculate that the attack, though not widespread, is serious enough for Microsoft to release an out of cycle patch rather than waiting for its scheduled monthly patching day, which this month falls on 13 December. Microsoft isn't commenting on when a patch might be available but the smart money is on Redmond following a June 2004 precedent and releasing an emergency security fix outside its regular Patch Tuesday updates. ®
When the SANS Institute, a computer-security training organization, released its Top-20 vulnerabilities last week, the rankings continued an annual ritual aimed at highlighting the worst flaws for network administrators. This year, the list had something different, however: the group flagged the collective vulnerabilities in Apple's Mac OS X operating system as a major threat.
MP3.com and Lindows/Linspire founder Michael Robertson has re-launched the service that got him into so much hot water with the music industry back in the late 1990s. His new operation, MP3tunes.com, yesterday launched its Oboe service, which allows users to upload their digital music collections to a secure "locker" and then access it for playback from any web-connected computer anywhere else in the world.
Three French mobile operators - Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom - have been fined a whopping €534m (£363m) for sharing information and rigging the country's cellphone market. France's competition commission (the Conseil de la Concurrence) ruled that the three had acted against the best interests of consumers and the economy by sharing confidential information and divvying up the market for themselves. The Conseil said this collusion had been going on between 1997 and 2003. Orange has been fined €256m (£174m), SFR €220m (£150m) and Bouygues Telecom €58m (£40m). Vincent Poulbere, a senior consultant at analysts Ovum, said the operators are likely to appeal the decisions although they could face yet further legal action from consumer groups. "This is really bad news for the French operators, for two reasons: first, because of the record amount of the fine, second, because of the bad press resulting from this decision and the damage it will do to the operators' brands and credibility. "We were surprised by the competition authority's findings about how operators exchanged confidential information and agreed on market shares," he said. Orange, which is owned by incumbent France Telecom, rejected the ruling and confirmed it plans to appeal. It described the ruling as "excessive" and warned that it could have a "serious impact on public confidence" in the mobile sector. "The idea that it would be possible to control a market of roughly 40 million customers sourcing their products from 20,000 points of sale, is totally unrealistic. During this period, which was extremely dynamic for the mobile sector, the market share (gross sales) of the three mobile operators varied by several points on a monthly basis, reflecting the intense competition in the sector," it said in a statement. Last month France Telecom was fined €80m (£54m) by France's competition commission for failing to open up its network to rival broadband providers. The telco also plans to appeal that decision too. ®
Samsung yesterday pleaded guilty to conspiring with other memory makers to fix prices. The plea was merely a formality - the South Korean giant coughed to the charge back in October. Then, it agreed to pay $300m to settle the case brought against it by the US Department of Justice. In November 2001, Samsung described allegations that it and other memory makers had secretly agreed to fix DRAM prices between 1 July 1999 and 14 June 2002 as "total nonsense".
Certified gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny scour Gizmoville for the oddest digital goodies, TV Scoop has all the hottest cult TV news and HDTVUK has all the latest High Def stories. Telewest has become the first British company to deliver a live HDTV (High Definition TV service) service. Starting from today it is offering a limited High Definition service to a select group of 400 viewers in south London. The service will be rolled out across the Telewest franchise early next year. Telewest hasn’t put a date on when it will available nationwide but it is likely to be before the summer. HDTVUK gained an exclusive peek at the new service with a live demo in Telewest's Woking HQ. While Sky will offer a HDTV service across at least seven dedicated channels, Telewest is taking a different approach. Its high definition transmissions will be available through its TV-on demand service Teleport. At the present time the service is fairly limited with a small selection of BBC series including Pride, The Blue Planet and Wild Weather. This will be followed by HD movies on demand early in 2006. The company is apparently in talks with a number of other TV broadcasters. Spokesperson John Moorwood believes that ‘TV on demand is an interesting proposition for some TV companies to trial HDTV. It means they can gauge viewer response and don’t have to go to the expense of setting up a dedicated TV channel.’ To view the HD programmes Telewest viewers need to upgrade to the company’s new hard disk-based video recorder system the TVDrive. This offers the viewer 160 Gigabytes of storage - enough for eighty hours of standard footage and twenty in HD. Users will pay between £10-15 per month for the new TVDrive box and access to the HD transmissions. Among the first HD programmes to be offered to Telewest viewers is Pride, the BBC’s live action/CGI documentary style programme that focuses on the lives of a group of young lions. It looks superb in High Definition with the rich colours of the African plains complementing the superb level of detail of the animals’ faces and bodies. Pride is shown in 1080i the higher definition of the two HDTV formats and Telewest says that many of its programmes will be screened in this format. Not all of Telewest HD offering looks quite as good as Pride though. Several of the programmes have been upscaled to HD while others are classic series like The House of Cards which have been remastered for HD. Sky is expected to launch its HDTV services in early 2006. It channel line up includes High Definition versions of several of its channels plus the National Geographic documentary channel. The BBC has also announced plans for HD experiments in the coming year. Both Telewest and Sky are hoping that the 2006 Word Cup, which will be filmed in HD, will be made available by the BBC via both satellite and cable platforms. Other top stories Sky's HDTV launch - now it is 'early 2006' Sky adds National Geographic to its HDTV line up Chris 'Brass Eyes' Morris returns Comic Strip is back Little Britain gets the South Bank Show treatment Xbox 360 returns at 3-5% Xbox 360 toast on eBay
Apple has updated the iPod Shuffle's firmware to version 1.1.3, saying only that the new code includes "bug fixes" but without detailing the release's improvements. Alas the update still does not remedy the recurrent Shuffle glitch that causes some tracks downloaded from the iTunes Music Store to be skipped when the pause button is pressed. The update is available within the newly released iPod Update 2005-11-17 utility, which can be downloaded through Mac OS X's Software Update control panel, or from the Apple web site. The firmware included for other iPods remains unchanged since the last iPod Update release on 12 October 2005. ®
The Rotting Dog BlogThe Rotting Dog Blog Damn Limeys November 27, 2005 - 20:11 pm Jesus. Looks like the Limeys and the Spanish are kicking off about this CIA terror flight business. According to ListenToMe.me.me.uk the US has been transporting terrorists to camps in Poland or somesuch former Soviet republic in unmarked planes. Apparently, they stop off in London or Madrid to restock on airline food which they're force-feeding the bastards in order to break their will. These camps, btw, sound pretty gross. There's not even dial-up internet access or a coke machine and the al-Qaeda boys spend all day crammed in 1ft by 1ft cells while the psyops spooks blast David Hasselhoff's greatest hits through really crappy speakers. Which is fair enough, I reckon. It's all very well the Brits whining about human rights and landing rights but they'd be packing planes full of Arabs quicker than you can say "Sinn Fein" if they had any first-hand experience at all of terrorism. Here's a recommendation for you bleeding-heart liberals over there in squirrel pie land: check out towelhead911armageddon.com if you want to see the real human cost of Islamic fundamentalism. Oh yeah, and have a look at stickitupyourjihad.com - it has a real cool Flash animation of Osama bin Laden doing the Moonwalk. There are  responses to this entry Gook spooking November 27, 2005 - 21:46 pm Dad called to say that when he was in 'Nam back in 68 they used to spook the Gooks by playing Mongolian throat singing across Vietcong lines. It didn't have any apparent effect on the godless commies at the time, but the upshot of it is that Saigon now has the highest number of throat-singers per capita of any city outside of Ulaanbaatar. There are  responses to this entry Mongolia my ass November 28, 2005 - 10:24 am Still in shock after downloading some Mongolian throat-singing mp3s from drmsucksafatone.ru. Jesus H Christ - they call that music? Had to lie down for an hour and put Hotel California on a continuous loop on my iPod. There are  responses to this entry Like, wow November 28, 2005 - 11:19 am This just in: according to Bob Berserker's TechnoKrunch, the Umbongo Linux Collective has just updated its Firestorm browser. In case you haven't caught up with it yet, Firestorm 1.56/2 includes improved tab nest clustering, real-time metaintegration with the Krapulous RSS aggregator (Krap desktop only, but what the hey) and - wait for it - a big red button which says "order pizza". I don't think I'm ever going to leave the house again. There are  responses to this entry Fire down below November 28, 2005 - 15:41 pm A panic-stricken call from one of the guys at the Linux users' group saying to get straight down to Java Cowboy's Blogodeedooda. Something about apocalypse vuln in Umbongo's Firestorm. At least I think that's what he said - most of it was a kind of strangled sobbing, sort of like bro' made when he found out Jodie Foster is a lesbian. There are  responses to this entry Oh Jesus November 28, 2005 - 15:46 pm Here it is: Java Cowboy confirms there is a critical vulnerability in Firestorm 1.56/2 which allows a malicious Trojan quasiexecutable to penetrate the Virtual Blog Navigator. Once there, it waits for the user to enter the trigger phrase "mud wrestling Linux babes" into Google Porn, then trawls your browser history looking for stuff like Natalie Portman nip-slip sites, Angelina Jolie labial piercing galleries and Jodie Foster pornalike portals. It then conglomerates them into an annotated list and emails it to your mom and the FBI. Oh Jesus. There are  responses to this entry Krikey November 28, 2005 - 16:03 pm Ok, according to Uncle Tom Cobbley's Hardware blog there's no effective patch yet for the "Shitstorm" Trojan - as it has now been dubbed by a hastily-convened international blog Soviet. Cobbley recommends erasing your browser history, disabling Virtual Blog Navigator, and switching to a locked-down Krikey browser in failsafe mode if you really have to have a Portman fix. Also, Cobbley says get rid of those collector's editions of Hustler before the Feds arrive. There are  responses to this entry Done November 28, 2005 - 16:43 pm Done. Thought I'd got away with it until mom rang to ask why I had emailed her a list of recommended sites including opensourcefacials.nu. Jesus, I need a pizza and a beer. There are  responses to this entry Sleepless night November 29, 2005 - 09:06 am I admit I didn't sleep well. Spent most of the night trying to think how I was going to explain to the FBI why I made 43 visits in a two-week period to ovinelolitas.com. I don't think my story about researching a master's paper into adolescent promiscuity in the Russian sheep community would hold up under interrogation - especially if I was being force fed airline food by CIA spooks in the back of a unmarked 767 en route to a holding camp in Eastern Europe. There are  responses to this entry Sony sucks! November 29, 2005 - 11:11 am Feeling better. Got a scrampulse blogmissile from SonySucksCocksinHell to say that Sony BMG sales worldwide are down 0.004 percent as a direct result of the blogosphere embargo on the company's products. At that rate, Sony will be out of business by 2287. I expect my new 42in plasma to arrive by next Friday and then my Sony-buying days are over for good, make no mistake. There are  responses to this entry Patch November 30, 2005 - 06:57 am Up at the crack of dawn to grab the Firestorm 1.56/2 "Shitstorm" patch. Once it's bolted onto the Virtual Blog Navigator I should be good to catch up on the latest news down at JediHardOn's Natalie Portman blogletch. There are  responses to this entry What horseshit November 30, 2005 - 09:32 am Angry email from some guy called redhandofulster claiming that the IRA commited several terrorist atrocities on mainland Britain before U2's Bono brokered a peace deal between the Provos and the UK government. What complete horseshit. Dad gave money to the IRA for years (he once shook hands with a man who owned an Irish setter, which pretty much makes you emerald green to the core in these parts) and there's no way he would give his hard-earned bucks to a bunch of armed maniacs. In any case, everyone knows that it was the English imperialists who jackbooted their way across Ireland, and every one of 'em sneering like that Alan Rickman guy. To get the facts straight, just go see Mel Gibson in Cry Freedom! - its historical accuracy about the Irish struggle for emancipation is beyond criticism. There are [1,113,493] responses to this entry 1,113,493 responses to "What horseshit" bonoisgod says: November 30, 2005 - 09:40 am i think you'll find actually that it was sting who brokered the peace deal between the ira and the british. bono was in the democratic republic of congo at the time giving some rebel guy an earbashing about the illegal trade in pirated u2 cds celluloidpropellorhead says: November 30, 2005 - 09:42 am Don't make me laugh. Cry Freedom is packed with howlers. For instance, when Mel enters the sneering English guy's castle, he has his sword in his hand. However, in the next shot, it's back in its sheath. Also, in the sword fight between Mel and the sneering guy, the two swords visibly clash when Mel is pushed backwards over the table, but no sound of clashing swords is heard. There's a list of all 743 cock-ups at iurgentlyneedtogetalife.co.uk. lambegdrum says: November 30, 2005 - 09:47 am bonoisgod wrote: i think you'll find actually that it was sting who brokered the peace deal between the ira and the british. bono was in the democratic republic of congo at the time giving some rebel guy an earbashing about the illegal trade in pirated u2 cds Sting my arse. As every loyal Ulsterman knows it was the combined intervention of Enya and the Corrs, may Satan roast their melodical Fenian souls, which sold us out to the Provos. blogpedant says: November 30, 2005 - 10:11 am celluloidpropellorhead wrote: Don't make me laugh. Cry Freedom is packed with howlers. For instance, when Mel enters the sneering English guy's castle, he has his sword in his hand. However, in the next shot, it's back in its sheath. Also, in the sword fight between Mel and the sneering guy, the two swords visibly clash when Mel is pushed backwards over the table, but no sound of clashing swords is heard. There's a list of all 743 cock-ups at iurgentlyneedtogetalife.co.uk. Hey, great list, but you missed one: when Mel is kissing Whoopi Goldberg just before the English burn her at the stake (btw, wasn't she just fantasic as Joan of Arc?) he is clearly wearing the magical ring of Brian Boru, but when the camera cuts to a close-up of him giving Whoopi a goodbye pat on the backside, the ring is gone. bonoisgod says: November 30, 2005 - 10:23 am lambegdrum wrote: Sting my arse. As every loyal Ulsterman knows it was the combined intervention of Enya and the Corrs, may Satan roast their melodical Fenian souls, which sold us out to the Provos. no, enya just provided the haunting background music to which the accord was signed. as far as I am aware, the Corrs were on tour in Lithuania at the time. gogglebox says: November 30, 2005 - 10:41 am blogpedant wrote: Hey, great list, but you missed one: when Mel is kissing Whoopi Goldberg just before the English burn her at the stake (btw, wasn't she just fantasic as Joan of Arc?) he is clearly wearing the magical ring of Brian Boru, but when the camera cuts to a close-up of him giving Whoopi a goodbye pat on the backside, the ring is gone. It gets worse: when Mel is at the Sherriff of Nottingham's banquet disguised as Richard the Lionheart, he is seen eating a leg of roast boar with his left hand. The reverse-angle shot, though, has him holding it with his right hand. lambegdrum says: November 30, 2005 - 09:47 am bonoisgod wrote: no, enya just provided the haunting background music to which the accord was signed. as far as I am aware, the Corrs were on tour in Lithuania at the time. THIS ENTRY WAS DELETED FOR BREACH OF THE BLOGFELCH TERMS AND CONDITIONS alanrickman1 says: November 30, 2005 - 10:34 am Sorry to bother you, but this tiresome stereotyping has really affected my career to the point where I am now reduced to sneering continuously through Harry Potter films. I'd ask you to look at some of my earlier work. In one film, I hardly sneer at all. Thankyou I may be away for a while... December 1, 2005 - 11:57 am THIS BLOG HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED BY BLOGFELCH AT THE REQUEST OF THE FBI AS PART OF AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION INTO OVINE PAEDOPHILIA. There are  responses to this entry
Skype - which is being acquired eBay for $2.6bn - is to offer video calls as part of the latest version of its internet telephony software. Released today, the beta version of Skype 2.0 is new and improved with "enhanced features that allow people to stay in touch and express themselves online". Key to that is Skype Video, which enables its 70m or so users to download software that will enable them to see the person they're calling. "At Skype we want to make talking over the Internet the most natural, simple thing for people to do all over the world," said Skype chief exec Niklas Zennström. "With the release of our new software, it's never been easier for people to talk to one another for free, and now they can see each other with video as well," he said. As part of today's video VoIP announcement, Skype is teaming up with Logitech and Creative who make webcams and headsets needed to use the Skype service. Two weeks ago Sony unveiled Instant Video Everywhere (IVE and pronounced "ivy") - a free video and voice service - backed by IP-based video communications service provider GlowPoint. ®
Capita looks set to grab a massive chunk of local government business Birmingham though a joint venture with the council. The services group said today that Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet will be issued with a report recommending Capita be its preferred partner for strategic services. Capita said it would work alongside the council in a joint venture, the Service Birmingham Partnership, which would be kicked off with a £424m, ten year contract to handle the city’s ICT. The majority shareholder in the joint venture would be, wait for it, Capita. Back in June, the council said the final two bidders on the project were IBM and Capita.®
Security researchers have discovered a way to trick some wiretap systems used in the US into switching themselves off, while leaving phones still usable. University of Pennsylvania researchers have also discovered it might be possible to falsify a record of numbers dialed recorded by older spy devices. "These countermeasures do not require cooperation with the called party, elaborate equipment, or special skill," the researchers write in a paper Signaling Vulnerabilities in Wiretapping Systems published in the IEEE's Security & Privacy journal this week. The trick involves spoofing a continuous low-amplitude "C-tone" audio signal on a monitored line that mimics the "on-hook" signal, thereby fooling some older wiretap systems to suspend audio recording. "Most loop extender systems, as well as at least some CALEA [Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act] systems, appear to be vulnerable to this countermeasure," the researchers say. But most (though not all) modern systems won't be fooled by the trick. The upshot is that paranoid crooks stand a one in ten chance of making unrecorded calls providing they can live with a buzz on the line. The ploy does not give targets any clue about whether they are being monitored or not. Matt Blaze, lead researcher and an associate professor of computer science at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times that the research has "implications not only for the accuracy of the intelligence that can be obtained from these taps, but also for the acceptability and weight of legal evidence derived from it." However an FBI spokeswoman told the paper that its experts already knew that older wiretap systems might be thwarted. Although as many as 10 per cent of state and federal wiretaps might be vulnerable "it's not considered an issue within the FBI," she said. Independent security experts say the research, which has been made available to law enforcement agencies, illustrates that the war against crime is increasingly been fought on a technological front. Fortunately most crooks are not cyber-savvy, at least according to one expert. "If you are a determined bad guy, you will find relatively easy ways to avoid detection," said Mark Rasch, a former federal prosecutor who is now chief security counsel at Solutionary Inc. "The good news is that most bad guys are not clever and not determined." ®
Your Communications - the telco that's part of United Utilities (UU) based in the North West of England - is definitely up for sale. Speculation about the future of the company has circulated for months. Last summer, for instance, it was linked to a possible take-over by The Carphone Warehouse. At the time a spokeswoman for UU told us that the company was looking at a "variety of strategic options for Your Communications" adding that the utility did not regard Your Communications as "an integral part of its core business" and would "look to exit the business at a point in time when shareholder value can be maximised". That time appears to now. Like many others in the industry, Your Communications is facing the big squeeze in the telco sector and is battling against "intense pricing pressures and sustained excess capacity". At the same time, it's seeing telcos being bought and sold on an almost weekly basis and wants a slice of the action. Or as outgoing UU chief exec John Roberts said today: "We have recognised for some time that consolidation of the telecoms sector has been overdue, and we are now seeing evidence of deals being done. [It is] our view that the interests of our telecoms business are best served by its participation in the current round of consolidation in its industry through a sale process." In preparing to flog Your Communications - which offers voice, data and mobile services to the public sector and SMEs predominantly in the Midlands and North of England - UU is taking a hit on the value of the business and halving the net asset value to around £98m.
StobStob Do you remember, earlier in the year, there was an episode of Doctor Who where the Dalek stuck its sink plunger through a computer screen and downloaded the entire internet? And then went on to commit suicide?
Japanese consumers will not have to pay an 'iPod tax', the country's government has decided. Japan has, since 1993, levied a duty on devices and media capable of recording music. This week, a government panel met to consider whether the duty should be extended to digital music players, website Japan Today reports. The royalty, which typically ranges from ¥4 ($0.03/£0.02) per MiniDisk to ¥400 ($3.36/£1.95) for a MiniDisk recorder, is paid to artists and other copyright holders. ®
Plans to update the General Public Licence (GPL), which underpins the distribution of most open source software, were released by the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center yesterday. The first discussion draft of the new license – known as GPLv3 – will be released at a public conference, due to be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on 16th and 17th January. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) will then coordinate a structured process of eliciting feedback from the community, with the goal of producing a final licence that best defends freedom and serves community and business. The process will include public discussion, identification of issues, considerations of those issues, and the publication of responses. Publication of the second discussion draft is expected by summer 2006 and a last call, or final discussion draft, will be produced in the autumn of 2006. The final licence is expected no later than spring 2007. Free software community projects, Global 2000 companies and individual developers, as well as non-governmental organisations, government agencies, small businesses and individual users will be invited to participate in the revising process of GPLv3. Individual comments will be reviewed and addressed primarily through committees to be set up at the MIT conference. Additionally, individual comments can be submitted on the GPL website or during one of the many public meetings being held internationally. "The guiding principle for developing the GPL is to defend the freedom of all users," said Richard Stallman, founder of the FSF, a US non-profit group dedicated to the promotion of free software. "As we address the issues raised by the community, we will do so in terms of the four basic freedoms software users are entitled to – to study, copy, modify and redistribute the software they use,” he said. “GPLv3 will be designed to protect those freedoms under current technical and social conditions and will address new forms of use and current global requirements for commercial and non-commercial users." Background The GPL is a licence commonly used for many free software projects, including the Linux operating system kernel. The GPL licences software free of cost but requires any re-distributor to provide the full source code and a copy of the full licence text. It was written by Stallman, who also founded the GNU Project – which developed a free UNIX-like operating system called GNU. Stallman's site explains that GNU, pronounced "guh-noo," is a recursive acronym for "GNU's Not Unix." Variants of the GNU operating system which use the Linux kernel are now widely used. These systems are usually referred to as Linux systems; but Stallman points out that they are more accurately called GNU/Linux systems. The current version of the GPL is now 15 years old and, while it has become central to the activities and operation of a large number of companies and governments around the world, it needs updating. The FSF has therefore started a project to bring together organisations, software developers and software users from around the world, over the course of 2006, to update the licence in as consensual a way as possible. The process will be overseen by the FSF, supported by its legal counsel, the Software Freedom Law Centre. European activities will be coordinated by the FSFE. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related links The GPLv3 website Details of the review process
"Alternative" software firms Ability Software and Panda Software UK are taking a stand against the illegal sale of their OEM products which they say is eating into their profits. Both companies, part of Formjet plc, said they would issue warnings to any organisation that offers OEM CD versions of either Ability Office (an alternative office suite), Titanium Antivirus or Platinum Internet Security (alternative consumer security products) directly to consumers or end-user businesses. If the practice is not stopped within five days, the two companies reserve the right to sue. OEM software is licensed only for sale alongside "original equipment" but some unnamed online retailers and high street retail outlets are flouting this restriction. A Formjet spokesperson declined to go into specifics about illegal OEM sales but said it was "finding that this problem is becoming more relevant. "We've had enough and are making a stand," she added. ®
Nokia today introduced its latest three 3G handsets, pitched at business users. The 110g Nokia 6233 candybar phone sports a 2mp camera viewed through the handset's 320 x 240 display. It's based on Nokia's Series 40 UI, and provides all the usual messaging and content services you'd expect from a 3G phone. It also has stereo speakers backed by a 3D sound engine. The phone supports hot-swappable MicroSD memory cards. Nokia claimed the 6233 provides over four hours' talk time using a GSM connection and over three hours on a 3G W-CDMA link. It offers two weeks' standby time.
A British website has been caught selling counterfeit Microsoft software which it obtained from what it thought to be a legitimate Chinese source. Microsoft was alerted when a customer of Monitorship.co.uk used Microsoft's Product Identification Service. Microsoft’s team identified the copy as counterfeit and began investigations which led to Monitorshop.co.uk. The Middlesbrough-based e-tailer was shocked when it learned that it was selling illegal copies, according to Microsoft. It had obtained Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 from what it thought to be a legitimate Chinese source. It unwittingly sold over £7,000 worth of pirate software. According to Microsoft, Paul Rowling, owner of Monitorshop.co.uk, was extremely supportive at all stages of the investigations. Rowling provided Microsoft with information on the software’s source as well as with the details of all customers who had purchased counterfeit software from his site. Monitorshop.co.uk then helped Microsoft to recover all of the pirate copies sold and has paid for those customers to receive full and legitimate versions of the software. “Monitorshop.co.uk has been in business just over two years and we’ve prided ourselves on providing top-quality software, hardware and gadgets at reasonable prices,” said Paul Rowling. “We were shocked to find out that the software we’d been selling was counterfeit and apologise unreservedly to any customers affected. We have done everything in our powers to put the situation right and will continue to assist Microsoft while investigations continue." Microsoft expressed concern that Monitorshop.co.uk, as well as its customers, had suffered at the hands of the Chinese counterfeit trader. “We’re delighted that our Product Identification Service has proved instrumental not only in closing down an illegal supply chain, but also in helping provide genuine versions of our software to victims of the counterfeit trail,” said Michala Alexander, Microsoft’s head of anti-piracy. “We will continue to pursue all vendors suspected of selling illegal software to ensure that customers benefit from the full functionality, support and protection of our legitimate products.” Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
The European biometric ID card takes another step forward this week, with the European Justice and Home Affairs Council set to approve "minimum security standards" for national ID cards. Alongside this the Council will be roadmapping the rollout of Europe's biometric visa system, which will contain the fingerprints of 70 million people within the next few years, and hearing European Commission proposals for greater sharing of fingerprint data. The latter proposals cover the existing Schengen Information System (SIS), its Visa Information System successor (VIS/Schengen II), and the EURODAC database of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, but the Commission will also be raising "other initiatives", including the consideration of "a system for monitoring entry and exit movements", a "frequent traveller" system and the creation of "a European criminal Automated Fingerprints Identification System (AFIS)." So although some European states (not the UK) are strongly against the creation of a central biometric database of all their citizens, the construction of large-scale pan-European fingerprint systems proceeds apace. The "minimum security standards" to be adopted for ID cards are effectively those already adopted for the European biometric passport, "bearing in mind the need for interoperability based on ICAO standards", and consist of an RFID chip containing facial and two fingerprint biometrics. Applicants will be required to attend in person (as is already planned in the UK), and "applications should be verified by authorised personnel against existing databases... for example, civil registers, passport and identity cards databases or driving licence registers." According to UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke, in a written statement to Parliament yesterday, these security standards "will be important in addressing the weak link in EU travel documentation." Up to a point, Home Secretary, but there's a deal of frog-boiling going on here, as the Ministers slowly establish the ID cards and the databases without involving the voters or the legislatures. Within the Schengen area of Europe (the UK isn't part of this) there are no permanent border controls, hence no need for ID at borders. Nor is an ID card necessarily required for air travel within the area (or for that matter between the UK and Ireland) - numerous different classes of identification are acceptable to various different carriers, and a fair bit of discretion is quite often exercised. Several of the current generation of European national ID cards are eminently forgeable, hence Clarke's "weak link", but as Europe's laws currently stand the holes a European biometric ID standard would plug are strictly limited. Although the requirement to carry national ID and produce it on demand exists in some European countries, there's no such general requirement, which limits the use of biometric ID for European internal controls. In the case of the UK, the ability to read non-UK ID cards at borders might be helpful, and this could initially be done via the biometric readers installed to support the biometric visa rollout. But in the absence of a central biometric database of European citizens it will only be possible to compare the bearer's fingerprints with the data on the card, so the system is only secure if the card really cannot be forged, and if cards don't end up being issued fraudulently. The "standard" ID card is also not entirely standard, in that its endorsement by the Justice and Home Affairs Council is actually non-binding. This theoretically means that member states don't have to adhere to it if they don't want to, but as it's being agreed by the states on an intergovernmental basis it's more a case of the Interior Ministers committing to a standard European ID card without it being subject to any national or European parliamentary scrutiny. Implementation via this mechanism (which Statewatch editor Tony Bunyan terms "soft-law", and says is becoming increasingly common) also allows the Ministers to implement programmes in areas where their legal standing is at best dubious (see Statewatch for the legal position on biometric ID and passports). Much of the current European security and anti-terror agenda falls into the "soft-law" category, with decisions made first by (in Clarke's words) "representatives of the Member States meeting inter-governmentally" in "the margins of the Council", then enshrined in law once an ill-balanced 'compromise' can be beaten out of the EU Parliament; Member State legislatures need not waste their time applying for a place in this process. ®
Research in Motion (RIM) has begun legal proceedings in the UK to invalidate a patent owned by a firm currently suing the Blackberry maker in the US for alleged infringement of said intellectual property. RIM yesterday asked the English High Court to rule that Luxembourg-based Inpro Licensing's patent claims are "simple" and "either anticipated or obvious", Bloomberg reports. Inpro maintains its intellectual property is being duplicated without permission by RIM's Blackberry. If Inpro prevails, RIM could be forced to suspend its service to some 375,000 users in the UK. Long-time Register readers may recall Inpro is the former intellectual property division of UK PC maker Elonex, spun off in the late 1990s to leverage patents won by Elonex for monitor power management techniques. It went on to sue a number of big-name monitor and PC companies, including Compaq (now HP), Apple, Dell, Viewsonic, Sanyo, Sharp, Sony, Gateway, Samsung, LG and a host of others. Inpro owns 16 patents which "cover features of PDAs, including those which incorporate thumbwheels and synchronisation via docking", on the back of which it's been attempting to sue RIM and T-Mobile USA since 2003. It also owns five patents "relating to a proxy-server system enhancing functionality of computers accessing servers on the internet", and it's suing T-Mobile in Germany for the alleged infringement of said. In the past, RIM has alleged Inpro has pursued it with "threatening and grasping behaviour". ®
Intel may well be looking to put a difficult two years behind it with an executive reshuffle that includes the appointment of a new CTO. Intel today unveiled four new SVPs - Anand Chandrasekher, Eric Kim, David Perlmutter and Bruce Sewell. The promotions reflect a marketing heavy focus with Chandrasekher and Kim both serving in the sales and marketing group. Kim has been upgraded to take on the additional role of Chief Marketing Officer, Intel said. Perlmutter heads the successful Mobility Group, while Sewell works as general counsel. Perhaps more interestingly, Justin Rattner, an Intel senior fellow, has been tapped as the new CTO. Current SVP Pat Gelsinger was Intel's first CTO. Intel's most recent spate of roadmap tweaks and processor delays started at the end of his CTO tenure. Gelsinger, however, seems to have escaped charges of bad decision making. Rattner will need to help guide Intel's server processor business back on course. Intel has fallen behind rival AMD on x86 chip performance and still struggles with its Itanium demons. Intel may well have picked the right man for this difficult task. Rattner is well versed in multicore processor technology, having earlier this year proposed a 100-core chip that could power an intelligent, stool-sampling toilet. Obviously aware of Rattner's ambitions, Intel CEO Paul Otellini had this to say about today's promotions, "As Intel continues to deliver technology platforms with increasing value and usefulness to consumers and business users, these key individuals are increasingly responsible for the execution of this strategy. With these new elections and promotions, we are recognizing that they play extremely important roles helping take Intel to its next level of success." ®
The proposed .xxx porn domain has been kicked into the long grass just days before it was due to meet final approval. ICANN chairman Vint Cerf stunned an open meeting of the governmental advistory committee (GAC) in Vancouver late on Tuesday when he announced that the whole issue had been pulled from the Board meeting agenda - where it had been the first topic of discussion. The reason given (this time) was that the GAC needed time to review a 350-page ICANN report on the domain's feasibility before it could provide its approval (or disapproval). That's a red herring though. The report was completed on 31 August, and is mostly complimentary about the proposed domain. Not only that but all the issues surrounding the domain are already well known to everyone involved, and up until Cerf's sudden announcement, had been effectively given the green light. ICANN has come under pressure to release the report and so provide adequate excuse for delaying .xxx's approval yet again. The people behind .xxx, ICM Registry, opposed its release, complaining that no other new domains had had their ICANN report released before they had been granted final approval and that they were being unfairly treated. However, if rumours are to be believed, ICANN took a top-level decision to release the report and so provide a delay excuse, after EU commissioner Viviane Reding called the head of ICANN Paul Twomey direct and threatened to withdraw all the EU's representatives unless the issue was pulled. Twomey this morning denied he had had any communication with Reding over the issue. If would certainly be an unusual decision on Reding's part, especially since the EU has been mostly supportive of .xxx. It is only Brazil and the US administration that remain opposed to the domain. More likely is that the US government intervened but is desperate to avoid being seen to do so because of the ongoing Internet governance conflict, where the US government retains unilateral control of the Internet but claims never to use apply it. The Bush administration has been very effectively lobbied by the Christian right, and the US is desperate to make it look as though other governments are equally concerned about .xxx. The conspriacy theory is that by delaying .xxx, the EU puts a spotlight on the US' attempts to sway the course of the Internet. Whether that's true or not, it still leaves one furious owner of ICM Registry, Stuart Lawley, who has sunk millions into the project and been consistently stymied at the last minute by unusual delays. ®
AnalysisAnalysis Now we know why MP3.com founder Michael Robertson hired 'DVD Jon' Lech Johansen. As we reported earlier today, the serial entrepreneur's company MP3Tunes has launched Oboe, a limitless online locker for the iPod that lets you play your digital music collection from anywhere, with a web browser and an internet connection. And not just iTunes - it supports WMA and Ogg files too. Oboe preserves your iTunes playlists and drops into iTunes as a simple plug-in: and it uses Bonjour (formerly Rendezvous) system services.