5th > December > 2005 Archive

Intellectual property rights to be reviewed in UK

The Chancellor Gordon Brown announced on Friday that he has commissioned an independent review into intellectual property rights in the UK. Andrew Gowers, former editor of the Financial Times, will lead the review. The review, which will run for 12 months, will look at the way in which Government administers the awarding of intellectual property rights, and the support given to consumers and business. It will consider how well businesses are able to negotiate the complexity and expense of the copyright and patent system, including copyright and patent licensing arrangements, litigation and enforcement. It will also look at whether the current technical and legal IP infringement framework reflects the digital environment, and whether provisions for 'fair use' by citizens are reasonable. The Government has previously committed to examining whether the current term of copyright protection on sound recordings and performers' rights is appropriate. This will also be conducted within the review. "I believe that intellectual property is at the heart of Britain's success in the knowledge economy,” said Andrew Gowers. “This review will ensure that we maintain a world-class environment for creativity, design and innovation." Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 05 Dec 2005

IBM goes open with office suite

IBM is adopting OpenDocument Format (ODF) for the first generally available release of its network-based collaboration and office productivity suite. IBM said Sunday its Workplace Managed Client 2.6, due in early 2006, would adopt ODF so users could easily share files and information. The Workplace Managed Client is currently available on a limited capacity, with more than one million deployed seats. The timing of IBM's announcement is designed to capitalize on debate and concern over the openness of file formats in Microsoft's Office, and appeal to governments in emerging markets like China and India as they start to digitize their data. "We are getting our biggest, best early interest form people in emerging economies and in the government sector. We expect interest to grow from that base," market manager for the IBM Workplace client Arthur Fontaine told The Register. Support for ODF comes as governments worldwide increasingly mandate that their users adopt software that meets "open standards" of interoperability. That came to a head recently with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' decision, subsequently reversed, to dump Microsoft's Office in favor of suites using ODF. Microsoft, which rejects ODF for Office, surprised everyone last month by announcing plans to submit its rival Office Open XML formats to an international standards group for ratification. Fontaine echoed what is turning into a common industry refrain over Microsoft's standards announcement. "We would like to see what the final output of those standards are, if the open source movement can live with it, and if anything its kept out of the standard for use by the single vendor," he said. Fontaine claimed that putting ODF into the Workplace Managed Client meant IBM's software could compete against traditional desktop suites like Office, OpenOffice and Sun Microsystems StarOffice based on features - such as management and deployment - instead of file formats. The Workplace client is a cross-platform collaboration suite spanning IBM's Lotus Notes, WebSphere portal, instant messaging and email. ®
Gavin Clarke, 05 Dec 2005

World chip sales exceeded $20bn in October

The world's chip makers together sold just under $20.1bn worth of semiconductors in October, up 6.75 per cent on October 2004's total and 2.5 per cent more than the sum sold in September this year. The sales figure, reported by the US Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), represents a dip in sequential growth from the August-September increase of 5.2 per cent. The SIA attributed October's sales to "strong demand for consumer electronics" founded on "a sharp rebound in consumer confidence".
Tony Smith, 05 Dec 2005

Toshiba wins review of Lexar trial damages

Toshiba has won the right to a new trial to appraise the "erroneous" $465m damages awarded to Lexar after the Japanese giant lost a NAND Flash trade secret misappropriation dispute. The Superior Court of California, which last week granted Toshiba the fresh trial, also set aside the original damages ruling, announced by a jury in March 2005, Toshiba said this past Friday. The ruling followed Lexar's successful claim that Toshiba had nabbed its intellectual property. Toshiba claims to have invented NAND Flash. Lexar maintains that Toshiba used its know-how to get its own NAND Flash chips to work reliably. Lexar alleged Toshiba gained access to the technology after taking a place on Lexar's board - one result of a 1997 $3m investment in the small US company. Since the March verdict, Toshiba has vigorously protested its innocence, calling the ruling "injust" and, this week, "erroneous". It has always said it would fight the ruling. The Court denied Toshiba's request for a judgement notwithstanding the verdict. Toshiba said it will appeal against that denial. Lexar has yet to comment on last week's ruling.®
Tony Smith, 05 Dec 2005

NTL and Virgin Mobile confirm bid talks

NTL and Virgin Mobile have confirmed they are in buy-out talks that could lead to a giant multimedia business better placed to slug it out with satellite broadcaster BSkyB and dominant telco BT. The deal values Virgin Mobile - which is 72 per cent owned by Richard Branson's Virgin Group - at around £800m and would give the enlarged business a four-pronged approach to punters - TV, fixed-line phone, broadband and mobile. A deal with Virgin Mobile also solves the problem of what to call the cable giant once NTL completes its merger with fellow UK cableco Telewest. Forget NTLWest or TeleNTL, with Virgin on board the new media group is gifted with the well-known Virgin brand. Or as NTL - already has an agreement with Virgin over the use of its brand for part of its broadband service - said in a statement today: "If the proposed combination with Virgin Mobile and the licence agreement are completed, NTL intends to use the Virgin brand to offer a quadruple play of internet, television and fixed line and mobile telephony." The go-ahead has already won the support of T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile's network provider, while Branson has already indicated he is keen for the deal to proceed. However, there is speculation that Virgin Mobile might still hold out for an improved offer either from NTL or even a rival bidder. In a statement today Virgin said that it has received an approach from NTL that "may or may not lead to a formal offer being made for the company". ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Dec 2005

Hynix readies GDDR 4 samples

Hynix will soon sample what it claims is the world's first 512Mb GDDR 4 memory chip, the South Korean chip-maker said yesterday. Hynix's part runs at 1.45GHz, the company said, and can shuffle up to 11.6GB of data every second. GDDR 4 can process almost double the data than GDDR 3 can in the same amount of time. GDDR 4 is essentially a tweak of the previous, point-to-point specification rather than a radical revision.
Tony Smith, 05 Dec 2005
For Sale sign detail

HMRC slams tax credit portal shut

HM Revenue & Customs shut down its tax credit portal website last week after uncovering an attempt to defraud the system using the identities of Department of Work and Pensions staff. It is understood that the scammers obtained enough information about individual DPW staff to be able to make fraudulent claims in their names. HMRC said “a criminal investigation” was being carried out into the scammers’ use of the DWP staffers identities. A spokeswoman for DWP said it was working together with HMRC to investigate the issue, and “none of our staff will be disadvantaged.” She added, “It’s more a personnel issue for us.” In the meantime, HMRC said it is working on “new checks to ensure the system remains secure.” This is not the first IT-related crisis to hit the tax credit system. EDS was fired by the revenue after the system it put in place degenerated into chaos, with families being over-paid credits, only to be hit with big claw-back demands from the department. While EDS carried that can for that debacle, plenty of fingers were pointed at the way the revenue developed and ran the tax credit system. Of course, that hasn't prevented EDS winning other government work, including a nice fat contract with... the DWP.®
Team Register, 05 Dec 2005

Swisscom calls time on Eircom take-over talks

Swisscom has ditched plans to buy Irish incumbent telco Eircom after being blocked from expanding abroad by the Swiss Government. Last month the Swiss Government - which owns 66 per cent of Swisscom - said it would vote against any plans to invest overseas. The Government's position has now been confirmed and Swisscom has been forced to rewrite its business strategy. In a statement today the telco said that in light of the Government's position, it will "not make any decisions on acquisitions of holdings in foreign telecoms companies with a public service mandate" until new strategic goals have come into force. As a result, the telco said today: "Swisscom has broken off talks, confirmed on 9 November, with Eircom of Ireland in relation to a possible transaction. Under the circumstances Swisscom sees no possibility of a takeover bid." Instead of looking to invest overseas, Swisscom intends to chuck €650m (£440m) a year invest in Switzerland's telecoms infrastructure and services such as broadband TV. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Dec 2005

Analyst blames Intel for missed chip sales forecast

Intel's chipset shortage was the reason investment house Handelsbanken Capital Markets' October global chip sales forecast overshot the mark, HCM strategist Bruce Diesen told clients last week. HCM had predicted sales of $20.3bn for October 2005. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), however, the month's total was $20.05bn. The discrepancy, according to Diesen's report, which comes by way of EE Times, was "probably due to a chipset shortage at Intel" causing a "big slowdown in shipments of notebook PC processors". The question is, who's to blame? Intel, for not allowing the chip industry to meet HCM's expectations, or HCM, for not accurately forecasting the state of the industry in October? Intel CFO Andy Bryant said early in September the chip giant had "sold out" of notebook chipsets, some months after the company admitted it was temporarily focusing its production away from low-end chipsets and on to higher-end parts. The industry has abounded with Intel chipset shortage claims since the early summer. Indeed, Bryant last week said the shortage doesn't look like ending until Q2 2006. Interestingly, the "slowdown" Diesen mentions also affected AMD's notebook CPU sales, which doesn't require Intel chipsets. Intel's notebook chips shipments are significantly higher than AMD's, but the latter's sales dip suggests there was a decline in demand for laptop processors that goes beyond any difficulty Intel had in shipping chipsets. Notebook vendors' difficulties sourcing Intel-based motherboards doesn't appear to have forced them to turn to AMD-based alternatives to make up the numbers. Overall, looking at both desktop and notebook segments, rival chipset vendors picked up the slack. That suggests notebook demand is weak, which is why Intel can afford to allow itself to run out of notebook chipsets in what Diesen describes as "a heck of a time to have a... shortage". In short, Intel may simply be reacting to diminishing demand rather than causing it. The truth, particularly in such a dynamic market, probably lies somewhere between the two. ®
Tony Smith, 05 Dec 2005

iPod shuffle voted top 'Chav Gadget'

Certified gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny scour Gizmoville for the oddest digital goodies, TV Scoop features all that’s cool in British telly and Propellerhead answers your PC queries. iPod shuffle is top Chav Gadget Put on your Burberry scarf and switch on your iPod Shuffle. While the iPod nano may be the king of cool, a panel of the UK’s top gadget experts and the staff of Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny have voted its budget sibling the iPod shuffle this year’s ‘Must Chav Gadget.’ 'The shuffle is perfect for chavs,' said the judge's citation. 'It’s cheap. It’s by a cool brand, and you can let others know you have one as it is designed to be worn round your neck. As it is white it also accessorises well with those classy gold chains Chavs wear. The sad part is that the shuffle is the worst player in the Apple range – more like some dodgy back street knock-off than the excellent other iPods. The fact it has no screen so you can’t program it or choose a track – it chooses the music for you – also saves Chav brain cells for the much more important business of, ahem, ‘pimping their rides.’ Runner up in Chav Gadget of the year is the ultra skinny Motorola phone the RAZR. 'Once the height of cool, this has now become standard fixture for every Tom Dick and Chav. Motorola has done it pink, maybe they should be thinking of a Burberry version.' It isn't all bad news for Apple though. The iPod nano scooped the Shiny Shiny icon award, and the same player was neck and neck with the Sony PSP in the race for Gadget of the year, as voted for by the wesbites’ readers, before the games console pulled away to win. The gong for most indispensable mobile phone was won by the Samsung SGH-D600 and the most bling gadget which went to BabyPhat’s gold-plated £20,000 case for the Sony PSP. The full list of winners are here. New SPV launches Over the past few years Orange’s range of Windows Mobile-powered smartphones – the SPVs - have gained something of a cult following. The latest in the series, the SPV C600, sports a similar candy-bar style and set of features to its predecessor the music phone the C550, but Orange has made a couple of significant improvements. The handset now boasts Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, which certainly speeds up menu navigation, and also the handset has a joystick control system as opposed to the slightly less usable rocker switches of its forbears. Other facilities include a 320 x 240 colour screen, a 1.3 megapixel camera and 64MB internal memory. Alas there’s no Wi-Fi and the phone is GPRS only in the UK, though it runs on EDGE in some other countries. Ear muff phones It’s one of life's trickiest decisions. It is freezing outside and you want to listen to your music player, but know those littler ear bud phones will do nothing too keep your ears warm. Fortunately Hammacher Schlemmer, the best named gadget shop in the world has the solution. It is offering neat little fleecey ear warmers combined with JVC speakers that let you listen to your music without your ears turning blue and dropping off. They'll cost US readers $35, UK shipping prices are available on request. Details here. Propellerhead tip of the day - Speed up your PC by switching off indexing This simple tip should help to speed up your PC by switching off the Windows XP Indexing Service. This runs in the background constantly checking through the folders and files on your drives to maintain an up to date index of its contents, it keeps the CPU busy and uses up a fair amount of hard disc space. You probably won't miss it, unless you make a lot of use of the advanced Search facilities but even if you do I'll show you another neat trick in a moment that will allow you to make use of the Index file already stored on your PC. All you have to do is switch indexing back on every so often to refresh the list. But first here's how to switch it off. Open My Computer, right click on your primary drive (you can do the others later) then select Properties and the General tab and uncheck 'Allow the Indexing Service to index this disk...' Click OK, select the All files and folders and files option and leave it to get on with it for a couple of minutes. Back now to making use of an existing Indexing Service file, If you want to find something in a hurry go to Search on the Start menu as usual and in the box 'A word or phase in the file;' prefix your search term with an exclamation mark '!' and watch it fly! Other top stories Buy a Kalashnikov for Xmas Get into Rebecca Loos' pyjamas for a tenner Channel Five in cool new imports shocker Telewest launches UK's first HDTV service iPod bed Xbox 360 review Jamo's iPod speakers Introdution to Linux
Tech Digest, 05 Dec 2005

ICANN Meeting blog: Indecision and insults

VancouverVancouver According to my computer's calendar, I have been in Vancouver for three days. And according to a search on the Internet, I have written six stories about events at the ICANN conference here.
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Dec 2005

Mutant rats menace Belfast

Residents in east Belfast have been "living in a horror movie" for more than a month after an invasion of fearless giant rats. Kids have been dragged off the streets by fearful parents and a dog attacked by the invading rodents - believed to have been displaced from their former abode when transport outfit Translink did work on a nearby railway line. June Brown, a worker at the local community centre in which she was presumably barricaded in a Dawn of the Dead stylee, told the BBC: "We see rats daily. One of the mothers was coming to the mother-and-toddlers and a rat came out and walked alongside her pram. The baby was actually delighted to see this furry friend. She did not want to react in case she frightened the child." Her shaken colleagues Gail Leemer and Jane Ormer added: "They are like cats. They are stone deaf, they fly up and down the road and play tig with the buses. They come out in daylight. Nothing seems to scare them. If a bus was coming, the rat would just dilly dally along the road. Nothing seems to deter them. They don't seem to be frightened of human people." The council has reportedly put down poison in an attempt to purge the streets of mutant rats, but in the circumstances and given the traumatised locals' description of the hell rodents, nuke-bearing stealth aircraft might be a better bet. ®
Lester Haines, 05 Dec 2005

US Patent Office rejects remaining NTP vs RIM patent

The US Patent and Trademark Office has rejected another patent owned by Research in Motion sparring partner NTP, effectively rendering invalid all eight patents RIM was judged to have infringed in whole or in part. The USPTO's ruling was made public last week, though it's merely a preliminary judgement, not the last word on the matter. A final, categorical ruling could be some way off - the wheels of the USPTO grind exceeding slow, it seems. In June, the USPTO issued preliminary rejections of seven of eight patents that underpinned NTP's legal action against RIM, and it has yet to issue a final verdict on any of them.
Tony Smith, 05 Dec 2005

Killer squirrel pack guts dog

A pack of Russian black squirrels is reported to have piled into a dog mob-handed, bitten it to death and then eviscerated the unfortunate animal after it ill-advisedly barked at them, the BBC reports. That, at least, is according to journo Anastasia Trubitsina who told Komsomolskaya Pravda: "They literally gutted the dog," before adding that the canicidal tree rats scattered when they caught sight of some people. Chillingly, according to the three witnesses to the outrage, some were "carrying bits of flesh". Locals in the town of Lazo attribute the savagery to a lack of pine cones. One said: "The little beasts are agitated because they have nothing to eat." Scientists are unconvinced. Mikhail Tiyunov dismissed the claim as "absurd", with: "If it really happened, things must be pretty bad in our forests." ®
Lester Haines, 05 Dec 2005

ITV close to buying Friends Reunited

ITV's bid to acquire Friends Reunited could be about to inked, according to the Sunday Times. The paper reports that the £120m take-over could be announced as early as this week after months of speculation about the future of the reunion site. The deal is expected to tie-in senior execs and key staff, who, in return, can also expect a pay-off of up to £50m if certain performance targets are hit over the next three years. Broadcaster ITV became the front-runner for the acquisition of Friends Reunited four weeks ago elbowing aside rival suitors including BT, News Corp and Daily Mail & General Trust. ITV - which is currently dipping its toes into the broadband TV scene - is keen to use Friends Reunited's huge user base to help it make money from the Net. Friends Reunited was asked to comment on the report but no one from the company was available for comment at the time of writing. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Dec 2005

Asus preps carbon-fibre cased laptop

Asus has rejected standard plastics, impact-resistant materials like polycarbonate, and even metals like aluminium and titanium to kit out its latest notebook computer opting instead for carbon fibre. The Taiwanese manufacturer last week introduced the W1 Carbon family, a line of Centrino laptops based on a range of Pentium M processors clocked from 1.6GHz to 2.13GHz. Curiously, Asus touts the way the machines' carbon fibre casing acts as an "effective EMI [electro-magnetic interference] protective shield". The snag here, of course, is that it also threatens to shield against desirable electro-magnetic radiation, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals. Wi-FI is a key component of Intel's Centrino platform, but Asus' press release doesn't mention it at all.
Tony Smith, 05 Dec 2005
fingers pointing at man

JBoss goes upscale with Arjuna deal

JBoss is zeroing in on BEA Systems sacred transaction middleware business with the acquisition of software from Arjuna Technologies - once part of the Hewlett Packard (HP) fold. The open source application server upstart has bought Arjuna Transaction Service Suite (ArjunaTS) and plans to both integrate ArjunaTS with its own growing middleware suite and release ArjunaTS under an open source license in the first quarter of 2006. Financial terms were not released. The deal also gives JBoss access to Arjuna's implementations of Web Services Transaction (WS-TX) and Web Services Composite Application Framework (WS-CAF), which interoperate with middleware and server software from Microsoft and IBM. ArjunaTS ensures the reliable delivery of messages in distributed networks and its ownership by JBoss closes a hole in JBoss's fledgling portfolio. Application servers like BEA's WebLogic that are used in distributed, mission-critical environments must be able to guarantee secure and reliable delivery of messages. WebLogic achieves this using the cross-platform Tuxedo, designed by AT&T in the 1970s and owned by Novell before it was acquired by BEA. JBoss, who has been stealing customers from BEA, lacked its own Tuxedo-like software. JBoss now believes it can challenge Tuxedo using the same tactics it used against WebLogic. JBoss is free to download while BEA charges $10,000 per CPU for WebLogic. Shaun Connolly, vice president of JBoss's product management, told The Register BEA's customers are paying "very, very high" license fees for Tuxedo. "I'd be willing to bet there is a significant portion of those customers who aren't using all the bells and whistles," Connolly said. The decision to branch into transaction processing middleware means a considerable stepping up of JBoss's competition against BEA. JBoss made early inroads against BEA in developer shops and with web-based applications but by folding in ArjunaTS, JBoss is now targeting higher-end tasks. As part of the acquisition, Arjuna chief architect Mark Little is joining JBoss as director of standards. Little is one of ArjunaTS's co-creators. ®
Gavin Clarke, 05 Dec 2005
Xbox_360_resized_SM

Microsoft Xbox 360

ReviewReview Unless you've been living in a Buddhist Temple in the mountains of Tibet for the past few months you will be well aware that the Xbox 360 has launched in the UK. Although there has been a massive amount of coverage and speculation in the technology press regarding the 360, the general marketing has been slightly subdued. OK, so you may have seen the odd advert on TV over the past couple of weeks, but there hasn't been what I'd call a major marketing push. Perhaps Microsoft is waiting for Christmas to spend the marketing dollars, or perhaps the it knows that pretty much every 360 is going to sell on launch day whether it advertises it or not.
Riyad Emeran, 05 Dec 2005
channel

Adobe completes Macromedia acquisition

Adobe has completed the acquisition of Macromedia Software and is marking territory on day one by hawking three bundles combining software from both companies. The hard stuff comes a little later with the two operations beginning their integration later this week. This will see them "ensure a smooth transition and immediate value for customers, partners and investors". Which is nice. The all stock deal, waved through by US regulators last week, sees Macromedia valued at $3.4bn. ®
Team Register, 05 Dec 2005

Entire porn outfit for sale on eBay

Fancy a change of career? Well, if you've got more than $100k hanging around doing nothing, and have always fancied going into the movie business, then point your browser at eBay in the US where someone is flogging an entire porn company - lock, stock and (judging by the description) plenty of smoking barrels. You'll get plenty of bangs for your bucks, too - camera equipment, edit suite, DVD stocks, black book with porn entertainers' cellphone numbers, etc, etc. What's more, the company is turning over a profit, and the reason for the sale is given as "moral issues between family members and partners and an early retirement of another partner". Accordingly, the blurb warns that you must have "a very open mind towards this type of business" and that "your immediate family members must approve of this lifestyle". Fair enough. You'll also need to be over 22 and preferably living in a "state with a predominantly non-conservative attitude (Blue States)". Solid advice. ® Bootnote A hot steamy ta very much to reader Alex for alerting us to this business opportunity.
Lester Haines, 05 Dec 2005

Bush administration control will cause net to split

The continued control of the internet's organisational structure by the US government - in particular the Bush administration - could result in the splitting of the Net, one of the leading Arab internet voices has warned. CEO of the Multi-lingual Internet Names Consortium (MINC) and member of the recently created international advisory committee for internationalised domain names, Khaled Fattal, made the warning in a letter [pdf] to the heads of internet overseeing organisation ICANN. The US government's "de facto monopolistic control" over the internet combined with the "serious and growing unpopularity of the Bush administration internationally" could "lead to serious forms of balkanisation", Fattal warned. The letter was sent soon after the first series of meetings of the ICANN Presidential Advisory Comittee on IDNs at ICANN's meeting in Vancouver last week. That committee hopes to find a solution to the thorny issue of how to make the internet readily available in languages other than English and those based on the Western alphabet. Four billion out of the six billion people on the planet use a non-Western (ASCII) alphabet, Fattal stressed. Everyone recognises the need to make the internet more of a global medium, especially with efforts in China and elsewhere starting to step outside the existing internet infrastructures to provide the services they want. At the Vancouver ICANN meeting, the subject of IDNs popped up in every supporting organisation. However, Fattal told us that he felt the issue of US government control had to be dealt with openly. It would be in everyone's benefit - including the US government's - to pool resources and create a multi-lingual internet in the same hub, he said. But at the same time he warned that the "double standards" set by the US government - he cited in particular recent revelations that US president George Bush had considered blowing up the headquarters of Arab news station Al-Jazeera - had dealt the US' claims of freedom of expression on the Internet a "serious blow". The ongoing situation - strengthened at the recent World Summit in Tunis - where the US government has oversight of ICANN and the infrastructural IANA function has "inadvertently caused serious damage to the standing of ICANN and IANA in the eyes of the international community", Fattal claimed. The risk was that the "legitimacy of IDN effort so far be totally dismissed simply because of ICANN IANA ties to the US government". ICANN is well aware of the problems for many across the world caused by continued US government control, and is pushing forward several reforms that will redress the balance for other world governments. A new Internet Governance Forum (IGF), plus "enhanced co-operation" by governments within ICANN's Governmental Advisory Council (GAC) will contribute to a more international version of the current infrastructure. The creation of the IDN Presidential Advisory Committee - which Mr Fattal is a member of, should also address issues. However, the warning is a timely remider of the strength of feeling that still exists and the challenges that ICANN, among others, face in the next few years.® Related link MINC letter
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Dec 2005

Investigations into ICANN transparency continue

A new lobbying body calling itself itself the Campaign for ICANN Transparency (CFIT) has expanded its investigation into the internet overseeing organisation with a freedom of information request served on the US Department of Commerce. The organisation has already served ICANN with a lawsuit in its home state of California claiming anti-trust abuses, and caused the EC to open an anti-competition investigation following a formal complaint. Now it hopes to discover examples of ICANN being less than truthful by requesting "materials related to discussions, memos and meetings and related contact that the government agency has had with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on matters relating to the .net and .com registry agreements". The request covers 1 January 2004 to 1 December 2005 and asks for all correspondence from the DoC to Department of Justice (DoJ), ICANN and VeriSign over the two contentious extension of the registry ownership. CFIT has promised to make all the materials it receives public. "It is clear too much has happened out of public view and contrary to the bottom-up, consensus-driven decision-making that is a founding principle of ICANN," said CFOT spokesman John Berard. He cited an example: "The day ICANN announced the .com deal with VeriSign, news reports were already quoting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Michael Gallagher endorsing it, yet reports from the agency since that time suggest the deal is still to be seen, let alone endorsed." The relationship between ICANN and the US government has come under increasing scrutiny following the US government's successful retention of its oversight role of the Internet and the recent World Summit in Tunis. Both the dotcom and dotnet contracts have been mired in controversy. The proposed new dotcom contract grants VeriSign perpetual ownership of all dotcoms, plus the right to raise prices by seven percent a year. Critics say this is grossly unfair and uncompetitive. Meanwhile, the dotnet contract was re-awarded to VeriSign despite widespread criticism of the evaluation process and evidence that ICANN staff had swayed the process in VeriSign's favour. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Dec 2005

OneTel sale in doubt

Centrica is on the verge of scrapping the sale of its OneTel telco operation after failing to receive a decent bid for the business. The Sunday Telegraph reports that parent company Centrica only received one offer for the telco and that was just a smidgen over £100m - well down on the £300m - £350m valuation put on the company back in September. As a result the utility giant looks set to pull the sale rather than part with a business which has some 1.7m fixed line and broadband punters for a cut-price. The few months since September have seen a massive overhaul of the industry forged by a number of mergers and acquisitions. Only today NTL announced plans to buy Virgin Mobile even as it grapples with its merger with Telewest. Since the end of the summer Sky has lined itself up for the take-over of broadband operator Easynet while a rack of others including Caudwell Communications and Your Communications have been put up for sale. With so much activity, potential buyers are getting picky. And although the deadline for bids for OneTel has now passed, it's possible the telco could still be prepared to leave the "for sale" sign up for a while longer yet. Asked to comment a spokesman for OneTel told us: "I can confirm that the deadline last Friday has passed and we are considering our options." ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Dec 2005
cloud

Codename cornucopia reveals Intel's 65nm CPU plans

Intel may be preparing to segment its next-generation 65nm desktop and mobile processor lines by taking a leaf out of arch-rival AMD's book and offering chips with a range of different cache sizes. So we might conclude from the list of upcoming Intel CPUs for 2006 and 2007 published by Tom's Hardware. The list is a veritable dictionary of new codenames, but you can see some patterns begin to emerge.
Tony Smith, 05 Dec 2005
channel

Eolas patent ruling provokes IE tweak

Microsoft is planning to launch a slightly amended version of Internet Explorer that works around a disputed patent for technology allowing web browsers to access interactive application programs, according to reports. In September, the US Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it had reexamined the patent and determined that it was valid. The patent is owned by the University of California and licensed by tiny tech firm Eolas Technologies, both of which sued Microsoft for infringement in 1999. In 2003, a jury agreed with the claim and awarded damages of $520.6m plus interest. Microsoft appealed and, in March this year, it won a retrial. The case has been sent back to the District Court, where Microsoft effectively has to show that the Eolas patent is invalid because the technology behind the patent was already in the public domain. Its case will be made more difficult by the USPTO September ruling. Microsoft announced in September 2003 that it was planning changes to its browser software in case it lost the case, but then appeared to put matters on hold. According to reports, the company has now confirmed that, from January, it will be releasing patches containing new code that works around the Eolas-related patent. New versions of Windows 2000 and Windows XP containing the amendments will also be shipped from early next year. The changes are said to be minor, and may only require users to click twice in order to access embedded applications, according to reports. See: Microsoft on the changes Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 05 Dec 2005

Intel's 45nm shift will mean octo-core desktop CPUs

Intel isn't due to begin shipping processors produced using its 45nm process until 2008, but it's already naming the chips that will be made using the technology. According to a list of upcoming Intel CPUs for 2006 and 2007 published by Tom's Hardware Guide, the ballooning transistor budget made possible by the 45nm process will be used to drive up L2 cache sizes.
Tony Smith, 05 Dec 2005

'Game manager' flogs Xbox 360 consoles on eBay

UK computer game retailer Game is looking into claims that one of its store managers is flogging eight Xbox 360 bundles on eBay. The auction - which closes Tuesday evening - is for "brand new, factory sealed, Xbox 360 Premium Pack with three games".
Tim Richardson, 05 Dec 2005

El Reg launches site for professional software developers

Site NewsSite News The Register has launched a sister publication for professional software developers. Called Reg Developer, the site is co-edited by veteran IT journalists David Norfolk and Martin Banks and lives at www.regdeveloper.co.uk. David and Martin formerly edited Application Development Advisor (ADA), a well-respected UK print-based magazine that suspended publication in the summer.
Team Register, 05 Dec 2005
globalisation

WStore swallows Inmac France

WStore, the online reseller, has bought Inmac France, a company almost three times its own size, for an undisclosed sum. WStore, which is headquartered in France was supported in the purchase by its existing investors. And Inmac France's previous owner, the US private equity firm The Gores Group, will have a stake in the enlarged business. WStore operates in France and the UK and specialises in selling IT equipment online to small and medium-sized businesses. The group turned over €73m in 2004. Inmac flogs kit mostly through catalogues and claims 40,000 customers in France. Turnover in 2004 was €208m. The company says that Inmac France will take it into bigger accounts and will help it reach its goal to "become the number one choice for IT purchasing among businesses in France". Once upon a time Inmac was owned by MicroWarehouse, at its peak a major apple reseller on both sides of the Atlantic. MicroWarehouse got itself into trouble and was bought by Gores. Last year, Gores sold MicroWarehouse UK, which included Inmac in this country, to PC World Business, part of Dixons Stores Group. ®
Team Register, 05 Dec 2005
fingers pointing at man

TSG buys Accounting Answers

Technology Services Group has bought its 18th reseller, Southampton and London-based Accounting Answers. The move gives Newcastle-headquartered TSG a bigger foothold in the South - to date it has concentrated on buying companies in Scotland, the North and the midlands. Established in 1989, Acounting Answers is a Pegasus and Sage specialist employing 40 staff. It also flogs hardware to small and medium-sized business. TSG was set up in October 2003 by Sage co-founder Graham Wylie, as a vehicle to build a computer services firm with a national footprint, specialising in the SMB sector. This year, the company secured a £25m facility from Lloyds TSB Corporate Facility to fund acquisitions: it has dipped into this pot to buy Accounting Answers. Post-acquisition TSG claims an annualised turnover of £44m, 500 staff and 11,000 SMB customers. ®
Team Register, 05 Dec 2005
cloud

Quantum prepares for tape storage lock down

Tired of the delivery man pocketing your precious tape cartridges and selling them to the highest bidder? Yes, aren't we all. Well, Quantum has stepped up with a new arsenal of security technology meant to keep data stored on tape devices safe via both simple locks and encryption. Quantum has developed a three-phase attack for improving tape protection, starting with DLTSage Tape Security. This product arrives via revamped firmware that slaps an electronic key into tape headers. Customers can only read and write data on the cartridge with that key. Quantum believes this provides a nice basic level of security without the performance overhead of more complex techniques. "We are not encrypting the data," said Mark O'Malley, a manager of product strategy at Quantum. "The data is still in the clear. We are just adding a lock on the cartridge." Customers can manage the keys on each individual drive or use software from Quantum and third parties to handle the information. The DLTSage technology will be available in the first quarter of 2006 via a firmware upgrade for DLT-V4 drives or on new DLT-S4 drives. Tape drives can seem so boring and harmless until you lose them and enter a business and PR nightmare. Just ask Citibank, Bank of America and Time Warner, which suffered when their tape storage went missing, potentially exposing the information of millions of customers in some cases. These high-profile incidents along with more stringent government regulation have made tape security a priority, according to Quantum. "We used to look at adding more security, and there was no market demand for it," O'Malley said. "Now, we think this area is hotting up and that storage security will be one of the big themes for 2006." The second phase of Quantum's security plan centers around a partnership with Decru - a division of NetApp since being acquired in June. Quantum will resell Decru's DataFort storage appliances that provide speedy data encryption. And lastly, Quantum plans to offer native data encryption across it tape product line, starting in the second half of 2006. Performing a tape backup is often that dreaded task foisted upon an innocent admin at smaller shops. This means that many companies have enough problems simply remembering to do the backups let alone figuring out which key goes with which cartridge. And Quantum seems to recognize some of these challenges with the new security line. Still, it reckons companies can ill-afford to see their tape storage get lost in the mail. This means that many firms will take the time to set up solid storage and security procedures for keeping their tape storage safe. We'll see. ®
Ashlee Vance, 05 Dec 2005

IBM mainlines on SOA

CommentComment This is the first of several articles following on from IBM’s recent Software Group annual analyst conference. Typically at these events there is some sort of theme that runs through all the presentations but this is usually as much notional as a reflection of reality. When it comes to individual product or product group presentations the theme conveniently gets lost. Not so this year. This year not only was it clear what the theme was but all of the various IBM product groups – Lotus (Workplace), Tivoli, WebSphere, Information Management (DB2 et al) and Rational – were an integral part of the message. And the message of course is SOA (service oriented architecture). The first thing to note is that while IBM talked more or less non-stop for two days about SOA it barely mentioned web services. The point being, of course, that you can build an SOA without web services. It is unlikely that you would but it is conceptually possible. But even if you do use web services they are not likely to be 100 per cent pervasive. And, even if they were then that is still only a small part of the SOA story. So, CICS 3.1 (which supports the generation of web services for CICS transactions) was barely mentioned, while the construction of web services in Rational was not discussed much either. Actually, there were a number of processes demonstrated that were actually generating web services but that wasn’t really the point of the presentations. For example, building composite applications using the Workplace portal (by end-users) or the WebSphere Portal (by IT) was demonstrated to illustrate how easy these environments are to use, rather than the generation of web services per se. Similarly, the demonstration of Information Server (to be released next year and discussed in a subsequent article) in which you could simply lasso an ETL (extract, transform and load) process and publish it as a service operation by means of a wizard was more aimed at illustrating the functionality of this product than at the fact that you were actually creating a web service. No, web services was not the issue but SOA on a much broader basis: the governance of the SOA environment (both in development and on an on-going basis), the lifecycle of SOA, the business process management that underpins SOA, the way that master data management supports SOA, the importance of integration to SOA, the need for open standards to drive SOA, the monitoring of SOA and assuring that it meets service level agreements, and so on and so forth. Once you start to appreciate the relevance of all of these tasks to SOA, you start to appreciate why IBM has 25 times more SOA customers to-date than its nearest rival (according to IBM’s figures). There is simply a breadth of requirement that is needed that no-one else can match. That doesn’t, of course, mean that the company will continue to dominate the market to this extent: it will come back to the question of whether you want a best-of-breed solution (because, undoubtedly, there will be suppliers that can offer particular point solutions that are superior to IBM’s) or a single vendor that can supply a full breadth of capability. There is enough demand for the latter approach that IBM is likely to continue to be the market leader for SOA for the foreseeable future. ® Copyright © 2005, IT-Analysis.com
Philip Howard, 05 Dec 2005