18th > January > 2006 Archive

Google buys into digital radio ads

Advertising giant Google has paid $106m for dMarc, which provides media-buying technology for digital radio. dMarc also provides the technology infrastructure for "station automation" - enabling the unmanned "ghost" stations so beloved by ClearChannel, and loathed by everyone else. dMarc claims to have 4,600 stations under its umbrella. Google says it will integrate dMarc's digital advertising platform into its AdWords program. A new medium for the Google monster? Disgraced dotcom analyst Henry Blodget, now reborn as a blogger, seems to think so. "Swallow radio and all other media... Create a combined platform for researching, designing, and managing campaigns across all media, from a single interface," he burbles on John Battelle's weblog. Not so fast, Henry. As Google itself points out, the integration of dMarc's digital ad distribution is about "creating a new radio ad distribution channel for Google advertisers." Digital radio is simply an MPEG stream, and contextualizing digital streams, and injecting advertisements into them is Google's core competency - and not some untethered spacewalk into the unknown. And while creative agencies are certainly looking at the growth of paid web search with some trepidation, Google has shown no inclination to get very "creative" itself. It's as much a recognition that the phenomenal growth in paid web classified advertising can't, as Google has itself long predicted, be sustained. It's simply looking to the future - a not to near future. Digital radio was launched in the UK in 1997, but it was only this Christmas that it reached the wider-buying public. It's still more expensive and cumbersome than FM, and usually sounds worse. But Google faces such an infantile press these days, that even when its being transparent - and it couldn't be more clear about its intentions than the accompanying release today - Google watchers prefer to believe a myth. Ironically, dMarc also launched AdForce, a web-advertising broker which soared before crashing in the wake of the dotcom downturn.®
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jan 2006
Cat 5 cable

Intel stuns market with Q4 sales miss

Lower than expected PC chip sales forced Intel into a rare revenue miss during its fourth quarter. Investors then punished the chip-maker in the after-hours markets, sending Intel shares down as much as 10 per cent. Intel's Q4 revenue rose six per cent to $10.2bn. That figure, however, fell below a previous forecast provided by the company of fourth-quarter revenue between $10.4bn and $10.6bn. Such a miss indicates that Intel unexpectedly saw sales drop off at the tail end of the fourth quarter. Intel attributed the sales slide to "lower than expected desktop processor unit shipments and prices." "2005 was our third consecutive year of double-digit revenue and earnings growth, leading to the best operating results in the company's history," said Intel CEO, Paul Otellini. "Although we fell below our expectations for the fourth quarter, we enter 2006 with exciting new products, such as the Intel Core Duo and Viiv." It has been quite a while since Intel's chip revenue fell year-over-year, but fall it did during the fourth quarter. Intel's Digital Enterprise Group reported chip sales of $4.93bn, which compares with sales of $5.26bn in the same period last year. AMD fans will no doubt claim a victory here, saying strong server and desktop chips have finally taken a toll on Intel's bottom line. We'll see if such boasting holds when AMD reports fourth-quarter results tomorrow. During the fourth quarter, Intel's net income jumped 16 per cent year-over-year to $2.5bn. For the full year, Intel enjoyed a 14 per cent revenue hike to $38.8bn from $34.2bn in 2004. Net income rose 15 per cent to $8.7bn. Turning back to the fourth quarter, Intel boosted sales in Japan and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, seeing a double-digit rise in revenue. Sales in the Americas, however, dropped 10 per cent while Europe was flat. Strong notebook sales helped Intel out once again, offsetting the weaker "enterprise" processor sales. The strength of Intel's mobile chip group was especially apparent when comparing full-year figures. In 2005, Intel moved $8.7bn worth of notebook chips compared to $5.7bn in 2004. By contrast, Intel shipped $19.41bn worth of desktop and server chips in 2005 versus $19.43bn in 2004. AMD's impact seems clear in those figures. In the first quarter of 2006, Intel expects to pull in between $9.1bn and $9.7bn. For the full year, Intel is looking for revenue to rise between six per cent and nine per cent. Despite winning Apple's "massive" computer business, Intel does not appear to be feeling terribly bullish about the year to come. ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jan 2006
channel

Third XP Service Pack slips to boost Vista sales tools

Microsoft is planning its third Windows XP Service Pack (SP) for release in 2007, three years after the last SP, in order to concentrate engineering resources on Windows Vista. The company has set a preliminary release date of the second-half of 2007 for SP 3, for use with Windows XP Home and Professional editions, meaning that the pack will ship after the release of Windows Vista, which is due in the second-half of 2006. Previously, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, speaking at last year's National Security Day Sweden event, reportedly said Microsoft might ship SP 3 before Longhorn - the well-worn codename given to Windows Vista until last year. Microsoft reportedly said Tuesday it was making the change to prioritize Windows Vista. The company was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press. The company last released an SP for Windows XP in 2004. SP 2 was an all-encompassing response to surging spam, phising and worms that saw Microsoft introduce a so-called security center to improve the firewall and ensure a PC's virus protection is up-to-date and a pop-up blocker for Internet Explorer. Chief software architect Bill Gates called SP 2 a "significant step" in protecting PCs from "increasingly sophisticated attacks." Ironically, the rush to develop, test and release SP 2 helped significantly delay the release of Windows Vista.®
Gavin Clarke, 18 Jan 2006

Yahoo! lowers! outlook!

Despite posting a record fourth quarter, Wall Street punished Yahoo! for lowering its outlook today. The figures were solid. Revenues excluding distribution costs (traffic acquisition costs, or TAC) topped a billion dollars for the first time with income recorded at $1.06bn, up from $785m quarter-on-quarter, and $932.1m in Q3. Overall revenue before TAC was $1.5bn, of which fees contributed $186m. Net income was $246.6m after adjustments for tax and divestitures. Revenues for the fiscal year 2005 were $5.25bn, or $3.69bn after TAC, with a gross profit of $3.22bn, up 42 per cent on 2004. On average, Yahoo! nets 99 cents per unique user, a figure that's trending steadily upwards, with 12.6m paying users. But Yahoo! lowered its profits outlook for Q1 2006 to the $410m to $440m range, down from the $475m suggested by bullish analysts. Shares fell by over 12 per cent in after hours trading. Yahoo! added 700 staff in the period, ending the fiscal year with 9,816 employees.®
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jan 2006

Developers asked to queue for Windows IM beta test

Developers eager to join Microsoft Windows Messenger beta program can now register their interest online. Microsoft is asking punters to submit their email address to receive an invitation to participate in tests for the so-called Windows Live Messenger, when space becomes available in the beta program. Last month The Register reported that invitations to the beta were being posted to bidders on eBay by developers already participating in the program. Those unwilling to wait for an invitation via the Windows Live Messenger site can still resort to eBay. ®
Gavin Clarke, 18 Jan 2006
channel

HP tired of being a mere JBoss supporter

HP has broadened its ties with open source application server vendor JBoss in the hope of offering more middleware options to customers. Until now, HP just supported the JBoss Application Server for use with its ProLiant and Integrity server lines. Now, HP will resell the full JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite (JEMS) and complement the selling with support and services. HP will flog the JBoss code to its Windows, Linux and HP-UX users. "Today's agreement expands HP's worldwide services and support for certifying JEMS components across all HP platforms," HP said. "It also broadens consulting and integration services and subscription sales from HP to all JEMS products - including Hibernate, JBoss jBPM, JBoss Portal and JBoss Cache - with expected availability in late February." Beyond this arrangement, HP could be looking to expand its open source play by releasing tools meant to keep the goals of developers, business types and lawyers in line. After refining its own open source processes, HP decided it may have some advice to hand customers. Or so the company's new VP of open source Christine Martino told CNET. "We're exploring different business models for the tools we have," she said. "We've looked at (if we) should do it as a service." Such a move would be similar to the likes of start-ups like Palamida and Black Duck that survey customers' code to find open source components. The vendors then work with clients to determine if the licenses governing the open source code match their IP policies. ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jan 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

IBM serves mixed grill in Q4

IBM's fourth quarter looked weak including the impact of its old PC business. Excluding the PC baggage, IBM's fourth quarter merely looked mediocre. Big Blue's product groups failed to impress during the fourth quarter with sales declining in some units and barely rising in others. Without doubt, however, if IBM had retained the PC unit that Lenovo bought four months into the fiscal year, the numbers would have been much worse. IBM's revenue fell 12 per cent to $24.4bn in the fourth quarter. Removing the Lenovo PC business from the figures, and after tweaking the results for currency effects, IBM's revenue rose three per cent. Quite the difference. CEO Sam Palmisano put a rather positive spin on the results. "IBM finished the year with another strong quarter," he said. "We had solid performance in systems, middleware and business transformation services, which grew over 25 per cent for the year. Our cash position remains very strong, and we saw impressive growth in important parts of our business." IBM's revenue in the Americas fell six per cent to $10.5bn (up three per cent in constant currency (CC) and excluding PCs) and dropped 16 per cent (up 2 per cent in CC and excluding PCs) in EMEA to $8.3bn. Asia-Pacific revenue tumbled 22 per cent (down 3 per cent in CC and excluding PCs) to $4.5bn. Meanwhile, Global Services revenue fell one per cent in CC to $12.0bn, and Global Financing revenue fell 6 per cent to $605m. Hardware revenue tumbled 27 per cent (25 per cent in CC) to $6.9bn. Gasp! That figure, however, compares to last year's fourth quarter which had PC revenue built in. Without the PC biz, IBM's hardware revenue rose nine per cent in CC. Phew! "Total delivery of zSeries computing power, which is measured in MIPS (millions of instructions per second), increased 28 per cent," IBM said, eschewing the more familiar unit known to investors as "dollars". "Revenues from the pSeries UNIX servers increased four percent; however, revenues from the iSeries midrange servers decreased 18 per cent and xSeries servers were flat. In addition to the eServers, revenues from Storage Systems increased 24 per cent and Microelectronics increased 48 per cent." IBM's software revenue was flat (or up three per cent in CC) at $4.6bn. To its credit, IBM earned $3.19bn during the quarter, up from $2.8bn last year and higher than analyst expectations. For the full year, IBM's revenue fell five per cent (or up five per cent in CC and adjusting for PCs) to $91.1bn. Despite not providing specific guidance on the first quarter, IBM's CFO Mark Loughridge was bullish on the period, indicating that analysts should increase their earnings per share estimates. ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jan 2006

Consumer group calls for anti-DRM laws

A UK-based consumer rights group has called for MPs to introduce new laws to ensure consumers' rights to use digital content are protected. The use of digital rights management technology on CDs, DVDs and music downloads to control or restrict the use of copyrighted digital works shows that the current regime of self-regulation is failing to protect consumers' rights, according to the National Consumer Council (NCC). In a submission to an All Party Internet Group (APIG) inquiry into the subject, the NCC highlights the controversial use of rootkit-style DRM technology by Sony/BMG in arguing that industry can't be trusted to act alone. The NCC reckons DRM constrains the legitimate consumer use of digital content, for example, by preventing consumers from playing DVDs they’ve bought abroad or in making compilations of material they have purchased for their own use. These restrictions undermine consumers' existing rights under consumer protection and data protection laws. Jill Johnstone, director of policy at NCC, said: “Because of the current situation, consumers face security risks to their equipment, limitations on their use of products, poor information when purchasing products and unfair contract terms. "While we recognise the value of intellectual property rights, we have little confidence in self-regulation by the industry. We welcome this opportunity to present our concerns to MPs and hope this will ultimately lead to an improvement in the rights of consumers." The All Party Internet Group announced an inquiry into Digital Rights Management last November. The probe will look at issues including the degree of protection needed for both copyright holders and consumers. The APIG plans to hold a series of public meetings taking evidence on the subject at an as yet unannounced date. ®
John Leyden, 18 Jan 2006
cloud

Improving Intel chipset supplies to push up DDR 2 prices

Taiwanese DRAM makers have pointed to rising supplies of Intel's 945-class chipsets as another factor driving up DDR 2 SDRAM prices. According to sources among Taiwan's memory-maker community, cited by DigiTimes, 945-based motherboards now account for more than 15 per cent of second- and lower-tier PCs - well up on Q4's percentage, they say - which is, in turn, driving up DDR 2 demand. Yesterday, Taiwanese memory-market watcher DRAMeXchange warned that DDR 2 prices will rise during the second half of January as demand outstrips supply, in part thanks to major memory-makers such as Samsung shifting production to NAND Flash chips. However, it suggested the effects may be mitigated by an overall decline in demand for new PCs in the traditionally quiet post-Christmas quarter. The comments from Taiwan's memory-makers suggest that what demand there is is shifting toward DDR 2-based platforms. ®
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2006

Local Directgov goes live

Yesterday saw the official launch of the Local Directgov programme. Led by the London Borough of Brent and London Connects, and supported by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the new initiative will provide web surfers with links to local authority resources when searching for information through the main UK public sector portal, Directgov. Local Directgov is a simple, robust means of providing citizens access to all government services, both at the local and central levels. In recent months, all 388 English local authorities were requested to provide links to key local resources and services that will be accessed directly through Directgov. A series of manual and automated checks are made regularly to ensure web links do not break or become out of date. When requesting a service such as paying Council Tax via the Directgov portal, visitors are first requested to identify their local authority. Surfers are presented with options to enter their postcode, street and town, or local authority. Once their request is submitted, the system will search for and present the Council Tax payment page of the relevant local authority. Commenting on the launch of the programme, Local e-Government Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said: "I believe the Local Directgov programme is making a significant contribution to local e-Government. It will prove an invaluable aid to local authorities, helping them to meet efficiency targets, increase traffic to local authority websites and encourage citizen take-up of those online services. When fully developed, it has the potential to revolutionise how citizens interact with government, offering a more customer-focused, joined-up approach." Dane Wright, IT strategy and service development manager at Brent, said: "The Local Directgov programme will benefit both councils and citizens alike. The programme will help local authorities ensure their services are more easily accessible - transcending physical boundaries via the internet and making the access of information more convenient." The service provided by Local Directgov is similar to ones offered by other portals, but is far more accurate as it is the only one that offers direct deep-linking to English local authority sites. Other portals tend to rely on results from search engines, which tend to be less reliable. The programme will continue to engage with all English local authorities until March 2006 to collect a further, fuller set of data and inputting it into esd-toolkit, to create more detailed links between Directgov and local authority websites.® Copyright © eGov monitor Weekly eGov monitor Weekly is a free e-newsletter covering developments in UK eGovernment and public sector IT over the last seven days. To register go here.
eGov Monitor Weekly, 18 Jan 2006

Dell offers dual-core desktop replacement rig

Dell has unveiled its first Core Duo-based notebook, the Inspiron 9400. The 17in-widescreen monster is a Centrino-branded machine, and ships with either a 1.83GHz Core Duo T2400 CPU or a 1.67GHz Core Solo T1300 chip. Upgrades to the Core Duo T2300, T2500 and T2600 processors are available on a build-to-order basis. The basic box contains 1GB of 667MHz DDR 2 SDRAM, an Nvidia GeForce Go 7800 Ultra graphics chip with 256MB of DDR video memory, and an 8x DVD±RW optical drive. The display is a 1920 x 1200 job. The Core Solo model ships with an 80GB HDD; the Core Duo system a 100GB unit.
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2006

T-Mobile walloped for 'dangerous driving' ad

T-Mobile UK has pulled an ad aimed at business users who want to stay connected on the move because it "condoned dangerous driving". The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 13 complaints from people concerned that the ad - which featured a woman driving a car with her glove box crammed full of office equipment - was "irresponsible". Alongside the image of the woman at the wheel of a car, the accompanying blurb said: "Work where you work best. Business data solutions from T-Mobile puts your business wherever you are. BlackBerry, mobile broadband access and HotSpots mean the internet and email are always with you." Defending the ad, T-Mobile argued that the image did not show any of the mobile gizmos being used while driving. Nor did the ad suggest that the products should be used while driving, it said. But the ad watchdog didn't buy it, taking the line that motorists could be prosecuted if they didn't have proper control of their vehicle while driving. "We considered that, because the woman could be seen to be driving with only one hand on the steering wheel, consumers could infer that she was engaged in another activity while driving," the ASA said. "We considered that, because motorists could be prosecuted for failing to have proper control when using a hands-free phone, the image of the woman was irresponsible and was likely to be seen to encourage dangerous practice." T-Mobile will not be appealing the ASA's ruling. ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2006
Griffin TuneCenter iPod dock

MS says no to Xbox 360 Blu-ray support

Microsoft may not offer an external Blu-ray Disc drive for the Xbox 360 after all. The software giant this week said it remains "fully committed" to HD DVD and has "absolutely no plans to support other optical formats". The company's stance is detailed in an official statement made this week in response to comments earlier this month by Peter Moore, head of Microsoft's entertainment division. Moore indicated that if Microsoft could add an external HD DVD drive to the console, it could just as easily offer an external Blu-ray box.
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2006
channel

DSG dreams of 'digital Christmas'

The performance of DSG - the high-street electricals retailer behind Dixons, Currys and PC World - was boosted over the festive period thanks to punters splashing out on a "digital Christmas". During the busy festive period total group sales were up five per cent, while in the UK, total sales were up three per cent, boosted by big sellers such as games consoles, satellite navigation gear, iPODs, MP3 players, flat-pannel TVs and laptops. DSG chief exec, John Clare, described 2005 as "very much a 'digital Christmas' in our stores". He went on: "I am pleased with the group's performance over our peak season, with encouraging trading in our UK electrical and computing businesses and in our overseas operations." But while the retailer saw a spike during this normally busy time, the past six months have been difficult. While total sales were up three per cent at £3.5bn, pre-tax profits fell from £133.5m to £106m. And although there appears to be a steady pipeline of new consumer technology products due in shops during 2006, Clare is concerned whether consumers will be prepared to part with their cash. "While the peak was encouraging, Christmas is a very different trading period to the rest of the year," said Clare. "We remain cautious about the consumer outlook for the coming months, particularly in the UK, Italy and Greece, where underlying levels of consumer confidence remain low. Concerns about personal finance issues - such as pensions, tax increases and energy costs - remain on the UK consumer's agenda." ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2006
graph up

LogicaCMG cites operating profitability

LogicaCMG claimed a “significant improvement in operating profitability” in 2005 in a trading statement this morning. The services group, which completed its acquisition of French services group Unilog earlier this month, said overall operating results were “in line with market estimates”, with organic revenue growth of 5 per cent on 2004. That year it turned over £1.7bn with pre-tax profits of £42.2m. While 2005 went smoothly at LogicaCMG’s UK, Dutch, and Iberian operations, it said “Germany remained difficult”. Preliminary results are due 1 March.®
Team Register, 18 Jan 2006

Data protection used as smokescreen

Privacy laws have become a convenient excuse for authorities who want to keep secrets, say medical researchers. They are "hidebound by bureaucracy" in their efforts to develop medical breakthroughs from patient data, said the Academy of Medical Sciences in a report this week. The academy's representatives complained that authorities are using privacy laws to justify conservative, restrictive and unhelpful attitudes toward the public good. It has also become a convenient stance for secretive corporations. Yet often when authorities claim the privacy defence, it would not stand up to scrutiny. This is especially true when the data being sought is demographic. Privacy is cited as the reason for not sharing data that can be disclosed without offending the law. A recent example is an excuse Microsoft gave to equality researchers from the Open University for not sharing information about women engineers. The software giant claimed privacy laws prevented it from saying how many Microsoft-certified engineers were women. The OU got a note from the Information Commissioner to show the defence was nonsense - the researchers were asking for statistics, not names and addresses. Microsoft went silent. It is an unfortunate irony that in a society that has adopted the principle of freedom of information in law, people who want to use information for the public good must have a thorough understanding of privacy laws if they want authorities to open up. However, the the Academy of Medical Sciences has gone one step further - so much so that what at first appears to be an appeal against obstructive bureaucracy is, under the surface, a request for special treatment. It has suggested that medical researchers have unique powers under the Data Protection Act. They have a right to use "identifiable" information in their research. Further, authorities, including the Information Commissioner (IC), "should accept this interpretation in their guidance and approval decisions". Some sour grapes, perhaps? The IC - which has shown a fair eye in the use of its powers to date - will not give up your name and address so readily. It supports patient confidentiality and the protection of people's patient records, it said in a statement today. "The Data Protection Act does not prohibit medical research but does put people in control of what happens to their most sensitive personal details, and this should only be overridden in exceptional cases," it added. ®
Mark Ballard, 18 Jan 2006
SGI logo hardware close-up

I'm dreaming of a utility data centre

Only time will tell just how much of business IT’s future they will come to represent, but Utility Data Centres (UDC) are bound to play a significant part in most companies’ IT infrastructure plans over the coming years.
Martin Banks, 18 Jan 2006
For Sale sign detail

Million $ pixel site blackmailed

Milliondollarhomepage.com has been pummelled over the past week by extortionists looking to cash-in on the success of the pixel-flogging site. The site has received worldwide media attention after generating more than $1m in advertising revenue by selling pixels. But earlier this month, Alex Tew, the UK student behind the site, received an email demanding he cough up $5,000 ($2,830) or risk facing a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. He received other ransom demands of up to $50,000 (£28,300) but ignored them. Last Thursday, the site became the victim of a DDoS attack making milliondollarhomepage.com difficult to access. The site is still unsteady on its feet today. In a statement on his site, Tew said: "I can confirm that MillionDollarHomepage.com has been subjected to a DDoS attack by malicious hackers who have caused the site to be extremely slow loading or completely unavailable since last Thursday, 12 January 2006. "I can also confirm that a demand for a substantial amount of money was made which makes this a criminal act of extortion. The FBI are investigating and I'm currently working closely with my hosting company, Sitelutions, to bring the site back online as soon as possible. More news soon." Although it's too early to say, experts have told Tew they suspect the DDoS attacks originate from Russia. Tew told the BBC: "I haven't replied to any of them as I don't want to give them the satisfaction and I certainly don't intend to pay them any money." ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2006
CoolIT USB Beverage Chiller

Cool your cup with USB

Isn't USB a wonderful thing? Not only will it connect to your computer cameras, hard disks, iPods, more Flash drives than you can shake a stick at, and even sex toys, but it will now keep your cola cool. Yes, CoolIT Systems' USB Beverage Chiller uses the bus' power to run a tiny refridgeration unit that brings the device's coldplate down to 7.3°C/45°F - sufficient, the manufacturer claims, to keep your drink "perfectly" chilled. CoolIT wants just $40 for the Beverage Chiller, though you have to add an extra $9.50 to ship it anywhere in the North America. Alas the company doesn't appear to ship this handy tool further afield. ®
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2006

Sony Rootkit: electronic Black Death

LettersLetters First up today from the Vulture Central mailbag is this, pointing out a shocking howler in this week's Chip and PIN story: quote: ...coincides with the increased roll-out of the Chip and PIN scheme which requires card users to use a three-digit identification number... endquote: Shurely shome mishtake? Four digits required. Three digits is the security code on the back of the card. Yes, we're very sorry. The person responsible is, as is the local custom, now cleaning out the El Reg toilets with an old toothbrush. Be afraid; be very afraid - the curse of the Sony BMG Rootkit continues to menace civilisation: No surprise to me: the local big-box electronic store here, [name supplied], was/is still selling the Sony/BMG rootkit CDs. I asked the manager-on-duty/'associate' why they were still selling them, after telling him about the lawsuits, the risks to the law-abiding customers, the fact that on Sony Canada's website they had a list of CDs to be returned to the store for a refund, etc. "We didn't get a memo from our head-office" and "I'll ask the Sony rep. the next time he's here" were his replies. So I replied that, as per their policy, I'd be better off, security-wise, to D/L music off the net, than to buy music... Sigh. Jeepers, I hope they don't wonder why I won't buy music there anymore, eh? Interestingly, at the Sony Store, in the same shopping mall, a salesman told me that THEY had pulled all the rootkit CDs from their shelf (though, to be fair, music CDs weren't a major part of their displays). Paul Renault I work in a call centre on a technical helpdesk supporting customers of an ISP. If you so much as put in a CD, diskette, or any other storage medium, you will face at least disciplinary (if not dismissal) for potentially compromising the security of the network. How the hell did this software get on military networks? Francisco 'The global scope is the big mystery here' You do know that amazon has webshops in europe, that these shops have marketplace access, and that the euro/dollar change makes US silver discs attractive nowadays? Nicolas Mailhot From the article - "The global scope is the big mystery here," he said. "It is fairly likely that a lot of the discs were pirated." All I can say is: Stab, twist. Repeat. :D Simon Green Uh, excuse me, but weren't those CDs supposed to be "protected" ? So, not only did Sony release a malware-infested rootkit CD, but it's so-called DRM did not keep the CD from being copied. Sounds to me like a pretty bad reference for whichever incompetent nitwit did that failure of a job. And I expect with great anticipation the obituary of First 4 Internet. I do not see how that "company" can possibly survive the fallout. It may not be entirely their fault (after all, who knows what the contract specified exactly, and what was intended to be made in the first place), but I have heard no good comments on them since their name appeared alongside Sony's. Learning that their DRM is copyable does not make things better for them. Pascal Monett "I don't see the federal government suing a big company like Sony," she said. "The fact that military networks have likely been affected by this won't change that." So... increasing the risk of compromisation for a few hojillion government machines is perfectly all right, whereas tacking /../.. onto the end of a URL is considered evil computer terrorism which must be stamped on immediately lest it ever spread. My but what a world we do live in... Richard I thought you'd find it amusing that Sony comes up with ZERO hits when searching for rootkit on its site. http://www.sony.com/SonySearch/Search.jsp?doSearch=true so it's not easy to get the patch , they have come up with!! :-) Nathan Blimey, it's like a zombie film. Only way to kill them is too shoot off the head. Jules Lawton Actually, that last one is not about Sony, but rather software patents, another long-running tale of woe... Since there is no easy way to revoke patent grant rights en-mass, will the harmonisation be to reduce the scope to the most restricted regime? A patent right not granted is easier to give than take away, after all. Mark Hackett Never, ever email a job reference. That's the word from the UK's Information Commissioner's Office. Solid advice, too, apparently: Well, at least the laws make more sense than here in Canada. Apparently, the courts here ruled that when you ask a (current or former) employer for a reference, you imply that you're asking for a good reference. If your boss gives you a bad reference, then the boss can be sued if you didn't get the job! Again, "apperently" -- this is about eighth-hand information... Jason McKenna Your article reminded me of a different approach to the same issue that was recommended by the university attorneys back in the olden days when I was an professor. These learned lawyers advised the faculty that if they had agreed to write a letter of "recommendation" (for a student or other employee), then it should not contain any criticism of the person being "recommended". The lawyers went on to say that if the faculty member was unable to abide by this limitation, then they needed written permission from the requestor to write a letter of "reference" or "evaluation", rather than a letter of "recommendation". As I was on my way out of academia at the time, I found it worth a chuckle. At least in the business world people are honest about lying to you. ;-) John D. McCalpin, Ph.D Last Friday was the 13th. A bad day for walking under ladders, but a good day for Greenpeace to issue a nuclear power station terrorist apocalypse warning: You said; "Oh yes, and they're safe as long as someone doesn't deliberately crash an airliner fully loaded with fuel into them while screaming children hit the pebbled beaches of Cumbria." Take a look at; http://www.nmcco.com/education/facts/security/crash_analysis.htm Also, all PWR (Pressurised Water Reactors) like Sizewell B are designed to withstand an impact from a commercial jet at full speed with a full load of fuel. Many of the UK's ageing Magnox reactors are not though, so perhaps we should be shutting down our outdated designs and using something a little more modern than a 1950's design. ;-) Either that or we can all go back to the 17th Century like all these so called "Greens" seem to want us to do. Back to a life expectancy of maybe 45 years, back to dying of smallpox, back to living your life out no more than a few miles from where you were born. Nah, it'll never happen. Most of them couldn't live without their i-Pods and environmentalist sloganed T-shirts. George Garratt Is it not also worth pointing out that someone crashing a jumbo jet full of radioactive waste *and* kerosene into pretty much any mildly populated area would have precisely the same effect, and that the stuff isn't really hard to get hold of? Rob Moss To wrap this up - the shocking news that Jesus would certainly pack his iPod with Christian Rock: Jesus would not need an IPOD because being God who walked on earth He is the author of life and music. Daniel Kinsman You sure that was "Christian Rock", and not "Chris Rock"? Steve Shockley Yes, we're pretty sure about that. Equally unsurprising was the absence of "Black Metal" and "Death Metal" and "Melodic Black Death Metal" from both your article and the poll it discussed. What's become of Christians these days? Matthew Roche "For the record, today's survey on Beliefnet asks: "Would you use prayer to ward off bird flu?" Nope, we'd use Tamiflu to ward of bird flu, and prayer to ward off Christian Rock. So now you know." To which I say, "Hells yes!" Cheers, Jason Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA I believe you are quite incorrect here, as even the most devout of Christians have no defense against a Christian Rock pandemic, and would in fact pray to get bird flu if such a travesty did infect their iPods. Andy Bright Why would you ward off Christian Rock with prayer? I can assure you this, if you ever have a chance to see the Newsboys or Audio Adrenaline live, you may change your mind about Christian Rock. The Message is there, and the concerts are awesome. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This includes you. Ron V Thanks, Ron - I look forward to it. More silliness Friday. ®
Lester Haines, 18 Jan 2006
Dbtel M50 handset

Dbtel preps iPod-like phone

How soon will it be before Taiwanese handset maker Dbtel has Apple's lawyers knocking on its door? If images appearing on the web are indeed of its upcoming M50 phone, it's hard to image the iPod maker not taking an interest. The M50, shown in all its glory on Chinese-language site PhoneDaily, does not only sport a bright white colour scheme but also a clickwheel. If Apple were to make an iPod-based phone, it would surely look something like the M50.
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2006

ID cards jinxed by lefties

Privacy is not the only reason to be worried about ID cards - there's also the bozos the government is getting to install the system that runs them, says Corporate Watch. Anti-corporate lobbyists at Corporate Watch issued a rogues gallery of corporate cowboys who are either working with the government on ID Cards or have expressed an interest in doing so. Their poor track record* makes for an entertaining read, but this is not your common or garden blinkered corporate bashing. Corporate Watch finds room to apportion the blame in equal measure between government and suppliers - something, coincidentally, that government and suppliers have never been able to agree themselves. The CW report, "A critical analysis of private companies' engagement with the identity cards scheme", takes an appropriate swipe at lazy and secretive government procurement practices.®
Mark Ballard, 18 Jan 2006
Plantronics Pulsar 590A Bluetooth headphones

Napster claims 100 per cent year-on-year subscriber growth

Napster today said it has doubled the number of people subscribing to its music rental services in the past 12 months. The digital music provider's subscriber base now stands at more than 550,000 users, Napster claimed, with nine per cent of that total - 50,000 - coming through the company's subscription programme for university students.
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2006

Walkman brand drives Sony Ericsson to record quarter

Sony Ericsson's Walkman-branded handsets and its focus on high-end camera phones pushed the company into a record quarter during the final three months of its 2005 fiscal year, the phone-maker said today. For the three months to 31 December 2005, Sony Ericsson reported pre-tax profits of €206m ($249m) - up 36.4 per cent on Q3 FY2005's figure and 47.1 per cent higher than in the same period for 2004 - on sales up 15.2 per cent year-on-year to €2.31bn ($2.8bn). Net income for the period was €144m ($174m), up 38.5 per cent sequentially and 161.8 per cent year-on-year. For the full fiscal year, Sony Ericsson saw sales of €7.27bn ($8.80bn), up 11.4 per cent on FY2004's total, €6.53bn ($7.90bn). Net income for the year came to €356m ($431m), up 12.7 per cent on the previous year's €316m ($382m). The company shipped 16.1m handsets during the quarter - three million of them Walkman-branded phones - up from 13.8m in the previous quarter and 12.6m in Q4 FY2004. Sony Ericsson said its operating profit margin was approximately nine per cent during the quarter. The average selling price of its handsets was €143.5 ($174), down from €149 ($180) in the previous quarter. However, rising shipments - the company said it expects world phone sales to rise 10 per cent in 2006 to 858m units - will allow it to maintain its profit margins, company president, Miles Flint, said today. He told reporters the company will focus on camera phones and further Walkman models, including more 3G models. ® Recent reviews Sony Ericsson W900 Sony Ericsson W550i
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2006

'Clear demand' for mobile TV, says O2

Another batch of research has been produced to suggest that punters are keen to view TV programmes on the move, with O2 claiming there is a "clear consumer demand" for a service that beams digital content direct to mobile phones. Last September, O2, Arqiva (previously known as NTL Broadcast) and Nokia began trials in Oxford to test whether there's a market for TV on the move. Those taking part in the six-month pilot were each given a Nokia 7710 smart phone to watch the 16 channels - including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Cartoon Network and Sky News - on offer.
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2006

iPod t-shirt hits the shelves

Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion Very much hot on the heels of the I do Sudoku in Hex t-shirt (which has proved a runaway bestseller, so if you want one, get in there sharpish), the chaps down at TechnoDepot have unleashed yet another hi-tech fashion statement. This time around it's all pretty simple - a big white iPod t-shirt, as seen here. Actually, the graphic doesn't really do the shirt justice, but we're sure you get the idea. The iPod t-shirt is available right here in sizes ranging from medium to XXXL for £14.99 inc VAT (£12.76 for those of you who don't pay VAT). Naturally, it's printed on the usual premium 100 per cent cotton t-shirt, so no messing about in the quality department. And, of course, the whole TechnoDepot range can be found right here, including the terrific Mac OSX. I've upped my standards. Up yours. ®
Cash'n'Carrion, 18 Jan 2006
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Northamber gets case maker

ENlight UK has done a deal with Northamber to distribute its PC cases aimed at gamers. Northamber said ENlight's focus on marketing was part of the reason for the deal happening now. The company said ENlight cases were "well thought out, thoroughly researched and meet the demands of today's demanding consumers." ENlight, a subsidiary of Taiwan's ENlight Corp, said since launching its gamer and media center PC cases it has had many requests for review copies, which it hoped to turn into actual sales.®
John Oates, 18 Jan 2006

Readers crack Google Earth photo challenge

Thanks to all those readers who took the time to write in about our mystery Google Earth location and, specifically, the five selected features which we asked you to identify:
Lester Haines, 18 Jan 2006

GoldenPalace.com buys Captain Kirk's kidney stone

GoldenPalace.com has added to its world-class roster of tat by snapping up William Shatner's kidney stone for $25k (£14k). Shatner will donate the cash to housing charity Habitat for Humanity, the BBC reports.
Lester Haines, 18 Jan 2006

3G overhyped, says tech pioneer

The need for high-speed internet access on mobiles has been overestimated, according to a mobile-phone technology pioneer who poured cold water on the short-term potential for 3G network operators to realise ambitious business plans. Dr Andrew Viterbi, co-founder and retired vice-chairman of Qualcomm, who's best known for developing the Viterbi algorithm used in most mobile phone and digital satellite receivers, said the need for broadband wireless had been overstated. Applications such as obtaining radio and TV broadcast on mobiles and transferring pictures between users of 3G mobiles are unlikely to generate as much data traffic as expected, he argued. "Users are more likely to download pictures from phones onto their PC at home and distribute them using Wi-Fi networks," he told delegates during a keynote at the IEEE Radio and Wireless Symposium in San Diego on Tuesday. There are few applications that need mobile broadband, Viterbi said. WiMax, which has been promoted as an alternative or complimentary wide-area wireless technology by firms such as Intel as a consumer product is "unlikely to be a big player," he added. Viterbi said mobile operators in Europe paid about 10 times too much for 3G licences and were now forced to chase consumers. Unsurprisingly, Veterbi thought the CDMA2000 approach backed by Qualcomm and predominately used in North America and parts of Europe had a better technology and business strategy than the W-CDMA approach to 3G, which is backward compatible with GSM and backed by European operators. "3G in the US has so far been marketed to professionals and road warriors. In Europe, operators have had to go after the consumer mass-market with lower pricing," he said. Veterbi's downbeat assessment was followed by an opposing view from Intel. Intel engineer D. Schmidt predicted a convergence between cellular and WiMax technologies on the handset. But he said new applications would only be enabled by this technology development providing operators revamped voice-centric billing models to encourage users to exchange data and hardware suppliers came up with very inexpensive kit. ®
John Leyden, 18 Jan 2006

Health Dept. to review high hospital phone charges

Ofcom has called on the Department of Health (DoH) to carry out a review into the cost of phoning patients in hospital. The review stems from an investigation launched by the comms regulator last summer amid allegations that people were being ripped off for telephoning patients in hospital. Two companies - Patientline Ltd and Premier Managed Payphones Ltd - operate bedside phone systems that enable patients in hospital to make and receive calls. While making a call from hospital costs about 10p a minute, phoning a patient can cost 39p off peak and 49p for a peak-rate call. Closing its probe into whether these charges were "excessive", Ofcom said that its investigation had "identified that high call prices are a result of a complex web of government policy and agreements between the providers, the NHS and individual NHS Trusts". The bedside phones - which also provide TV and radio - are not paid for by the NHS but by the companies involved which then seek to recover their investment - around £1m per hospital - from the high call charges. Ofcom wants the DoH to take another look at the issue adding that the review "should include the way in which the cost of providing these services appears to be borne disproportionately by friends and family calling patients in hospital". The DoH, Patientline and Premier have already told Ofcom they are prepared to look into ways to improve matters. In a statement, Patientline chairman, Derek Lewis, welcomed today's announcement which, he said, "recognises that Patientline's charges have been dictated by the structure of the Government's programme." "Ofcom has concluded that 'providers have been forced to turn to incoming call revenues in order to recover their costs of installation and operation'. We will continue to work with the DoH to secure a more appropriate method of funding for this important NHS service," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2006
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DB2 - the secret database

DB2 is the most respectable and most powerful database engine in the world: it’s the pinnacle of database development. IBM makes a claim (undisputed to my knowledge) that more structured data is stored in DB2 than in any other database engine. Certainly, according to the Winter Corporation’s 2005 survey, the largest OLTP (On-Line Transaction Processing) databases in the world are hosted on DB2. The volume prize goes to the Land Registry at 23.1 TB and the prize for the number of rows goes to UPS – 89.6 billion; both run on DB2. DB2 also holds the current world speed record in terms of transactions per minute (TPC-C benchmark), for whatever that’s worth (TPC benchmarks don’t necessarily reflect real-world performance, although DB2 appears to perform equally well on real data). At 3.2 million transactions per minute the system would be able to support one purchase from every person on the planet every four days. The next nearest contender in the TPC benchmarks is Oracle with less than half the performance. If all that wasn’t enough, the relational model started life at IBM and that company has pioneered its development ever since. DB2 is world class – absolutely no question. So, how come you don’t use it? Let’s face it, when most people argue about databases, it’s the same old Oracle vs. SQL Server fight, with maybe some Sybase and Informix thrown in. Who mentions DB2? Yet we should. DB2 has always ruled in the mainframe environment: on that platform it has no peer. In 1996 (ten years ago!) IBM made all the right technical moves to expand the use of DB2 down to the mini and even the PC markets. DB2 was produced in three versions. These have had various names over the years - UDB (Universal DataBase) was often used but it now being gently dropped by IBM. The most useful names I’ve come across are: • DB2 for z/OS (Mainframe) • DB2 for iSeries (AS400 as was) • DB2 for LUW (Linux, UNIX and Windows) DB2 for iSeries comes free with iSeries hardware, a range of serious computing kit from IBM (an integrated, rather than bolt-on, database has been part of the iSeries architecture since it was called System/38). Within DB2 for LUW there are different editions: • DB2 Express Edition – limited to a maximum of 2 CPUs and 4GB RAM • DB2 Workgroup Server Edition (WSE) - 4 CPUs and 16GB • DB2 Enterprise Server Edition (ESE) – no limits About 90 per cent of the source code for DB2 is common across all three of these versions with 10 per cent reserved for platform optimisation. Technically, this is nothing but good news – a superb database engine is available no matter what platform you use. The problem is that IBM seems to have forgotten to tell anyone about it. Why? My impression is that IBM has become complacent - again. It knows that it has the best database engine and it is waiting for people to beat a path to its door. When did you last see an advertisement for DB2 running on Windows? IBM has got to get its act together. Did you know about DB2 Express Edition? It runs on Linux, UNIX or Windows; and the two CPUs mentioned above can be dual-core processors so there’s a serious stack of processing power available to it. It is easy to manage, mainly self-tuning, very, very cost effective and my guess is that it is about to get cheaper. Why? Well, way back in 1997 Janet Perna (then general manager of IBM's data management division at IBM) told me that IBM was watching Microsoft's pricing very closely and that she had no intention of allowing IBM to be beaten on price. I haven't seen much sign of a change in policy since then and, as already reported in Reg Developer, Microsoft's new Express version of SQL Server 2005 is free. My prediction for the very near future is that DB2 express edition will enter the realms of ultimate cost-effectiveness – or ‘free’ as we used to say. If I’m right, remember you read it first on Reg Developer. (If I’m wrong, obviously forget I ever said it. I certainly will.) The point is, either way, you won’t read it anywhere else much, because IBM probably won’t bother to tell anyone. ®
Mark Whitehorn, 18 Jan 2006
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HMRC tax debacle spreads

Staff at Network Rail have become the latest victims of scammers preying on the UK’s tax credit scheme, the Times reports. Meanwhile, the The Evening Standard is reporting that paymaster general Dawn Primarolo confirmed to MPs today that £2.7m has been harvested from the tax credit system by fraudsters. It emerged last year that staff at the Department of Work and Pensions had their identities stolen by gangs who used the details to game the HMRC online portal for the tax credit scheme. Now it seems Network Rail workers also had their details hijacked and their IDs used to file false claims. Primarolo told MPs today that the losses had been “limited” to £2.7m. At the same time, she said, tens of thousand more applications were being investigated. This apparently was enough for the Treasury to insist that the UK’s tax system has not been plunged into chaos. According to the BBC, the Treasury reckons that the fact the fraud was spotted shows how robust the tax system is. Er, yes. And anyone concerned about abuse of the proposed ID card regime can rest assured the system will spot any scams once a few tens of thousands of individuals have had their identities ripped and replaced.®
Team Register, 18 Jan 2006
For Sale sign detail

IBM plans executive sweetener

IBM is planning to upgrade executive remuneration packages to compensate for freezing their pensions. Details of executive pension arrangements are still being worked out, said a Big Blue spokesman. One idea being discussed was a supplemental programme. "We believe that executives should be impacted to the same degree as [other] employees," he said. Under IRC rules, any income above $220,000 cannot be counted in contributions to an individual's pension, said Brian Foley, managing director of Brian Foley & Co, compensation consultants. Without a supplemental scheme, executives may not be able to make the fullest possible contributions under IBM's new scheme. According to a source, IBM executives are being told that a non-tax qualified excess plan would be used to ensure they could still base their pension contributions on their whole income. An IBM spokesman said this plan did not imply that, under the new pension arrangement as it currently exists, executives would be under-compensated or able to put less of their incomes, proportionally, into their pensions than less well paid staff. Expressed as the sort of conundrum that is often necessary in order to have a conversation with a PR representative, IBM also denied the plan implied that executives' current arrangement had an absence of the supplemental arrangement they are now considering. "No, it just means you are looking at the situation. It doesn't mean one thing or the other," he said. In another twist of language, IBM is keen to point out that "80 per cent of employees would have an economic neutral effect" from the replacement of their company pension with the 401(K) scheme in two years time. At face value, that says everyone is as well-off under a 401(k) as they would be under a company pension scheme. So what's all the fuss about? What IBM actually means is that it will be making the same contributions to the 401(K) scheme as to company pension arrangements for most employees. What IBM does not mean is that employees will have an "economic neutral effect" at retirement. That's the whole point of the scheme. However, observers have remarked on the generosity of IBM's intended 401(K) contributions, as have a number of Register readers. ®
Mark Ballard, 18 Jan 2006

Japan nervous as officials probe Livedoor

Investors in Japan are in a tizz after allegations surfaced about one of the country's most popular internet companies. On Monday, it emerged that the offices of Livedoor Co - which operates one of Japan's leading portals - had been raided by officials investigating allegations that the company had tried to boost its share price by spreading false information. But fresh reports from Japan today suggest that the authorities have opened a second probe - this time into allegations that the internet company covered up losses of one billion yen (£5m). Japanese news site Kyodo reports that the firm is suspected of cooking the books by transferring profits from affiliate companies to the main company. Now officials are wading through thousands of emails to try and figure out if there is any truth in the allegations. But it gets worse. News about Livedoor set off a flurry of panic selling. In turn, this overloaded the computer systems at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) forcing it to suspend trading early for the first time in more than fifty years. Japan's prime minister tried to calm investor nerves by insisting that Japan's economy was stable. Kyodo quotes Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as saying that the events triggered by Livedoor are only "of a temporary nature as economic conditions are solid overall". ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2006
For Sale sign detail

Councillors demand explanation for outsourcing 'fiasco'

Pressure is growing on Walsall Council to give a full explanation for the failed negotiations over a £500m outsourcing deal with Fujitsu Services. The Council Cabinet will meet tonight to decide whether it should cease negotiations with Fujitsu, even though the two had already issued a joint statement that talks were off. Walsall Council refused to comment beyond its previous statements that said the decision had already been taken. Tim Oliver, Labour leader at the council, said: "We have significant reservations about the whole process... we think it's a fiasco. "We've had difficulty with the fact that this matter has never once been formally [brought] to the council in Walsall." Oliver continued: "From the decision to start, the procurement process and the negotiations have all been under delegated powers within the Council Cabinet rather than within Walsall Council. Up till this stage, there has been very little or no scrutiny of this situation. It's been a decision made and negotiations conducted behind closed doors." Councillor Dennis Anson said Labour leaders had their request for a debate rejected last Monday. he said: "The cabinet refused because, its members said, it doesn't have enough background information on what's going on." "I want to know why talks have come to such an abrupt end, because it was a big decision," he added. The council subsequently agreed to discuss the matter at a full council meeting next month. The open cabinet meeting in Walsall tonight is expected to ratify a decision already taken in private at unofficial cabinet meetings. Several cabinet members told The Register they had yet to make a formal decision concerning Fujitsu. Some cabinet members had discussed the matter at private, unofficial meetings. They would recommend to the cabinet this evening that it officially ends talks, but the decision had yet to be formally made. "The cabinet will make a final decision this evening," said John O'Hare, deputy council leader. But council and cabinet members either refused or were unable to provide a minuted record - even one summarised to protect commercially sensitive information - of the informal decision it has struck. Labour councillors are doubtful of the cabinet's reasons for its decision. One source said talks had finally failed because of a disagreement over price. "There was clearly a significant gap between the services the council was expecting and the price at which Fujitsu was prepared to deliver - at a guess, £12 to £15m." However, cabinet member Zahid Al said: "This deal was not in the best interest of the people of Walsall. We would have lost millions of pounds." Cabinet member Melvin Pitt said yesterday: "The reason why we've made a decision prior to the formal cabinet meeting is because Fujitsu is a very big company and Walsall wants to be seen as a progressive, forward-thinking council." Fujitsu said it was not aware the deal breaker had yet to be formally agreed by the Council Cabinet and reconfirmed that the decision to end talks had been taken by Walsall Council.®
Mark Ballard, 18 Jan 2006

SAP exec caught praising Oracle's Larry Ellison

SAP's products and technology chief Shai Agassi has confirmed two things – he thinks Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison is a smart guy and his company will finally deliver its rival to Salesforce.com before March. Agassi, speaking at AMR Research's Strategy 21 event here, admitted to admiring Ellison's intellect – a confession given the rivalry between SAP and Oracle. "Larry is a very smart man," Agassi said. "You can quote me on that." And so we will. The moment of praise, however, was a rarity in a speech filled with sarcastic jabs at Oracle. The database giant cannot pull off its plans to unite disparate applications brought in-house through its many acquisitions, Agassi said, calling such an objective "fundamentally impossible." By contrast, SAP presents a solid and consistent roadmap that will not disrupt customers. "We are standing behind what we say," Agassi said. Such a comment may seem comical given the bit of news dribbled out by Agassi. He vowed that SAP will deliver an on-demand CRM service before March. Such software had once been slated to arrive in 2005 but was delayed. Overall, Agassi used the AMR even to talk up SOA (service oriented architecture) technology – not a surprise given that it has become the topic of choice for software vendors. But contrary to many who claim SOA has already hit its stride, Agassi urged caution, saying 2010 is the most likely midpoint for SOA adoption. "We will see a period . . . between now and then where anyone who knows how to spell SOA will double their salary," Agassi said. "Then it will taper off and go into normal implementation cycles." Companies will use SOA technology to complement things such as payroll that they do not want to alter. The winners in the SOA race will be those software makers that can create new, interesting services that sit on top of the standard applications, Agassi said. Back to the Oracle ribbing, Agassi noted that "There used to be a company that aggregated all of the failures of the previous (software) wave. It was CA. You figure out who it is today." And then. "You don't do $20bn worth of acquisitions just to get some marketing spin out of it. They are in a very interesting situation where they have to justify a very dangerous strategy that has not worked for anyone else before." And. "As long as they don't misquote us or change the numbers, everything is cool. The minute they start doing things that are disruptive and destructive to the industry, we don't like that." And finally, after noting that SAP had hired plenty of people away from Siebel and PeopleSoft, Agassi said, "When you threw them into a room and said, 'Let's do this crazy thing' they said, 'That's crazy' and left." ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jan 2006

ZigBee bursts onto wireless PAN

Products based on ZigBee - the low power, mesh radio technology - will come on tap this year and make a big impact in industrial controls, according to demos at the IEEE Radio and Wireless Symposium this week. ZigBee is a short-range radio technology aimed at apps with low data rates and low power consumption such as industrial controls, home automation and other monitoring and control operations. The technology can be used to build self-organising mesh networks.
John Leyden, 18 Jan 2006
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Google accused of being the next SAP

Is Google the next SAP? That was the hardball question BusinessWeek reporter Sarah Lacy saved up for SAP's products and technology chief Shai Agassi here at the AMR Research Strategy 21 conference. The difficult query didn't faze the SAP executive. He looked deep inside, performed a gut check and busted out with – "I don't think that is a real big threat." The question underscores the growing desire by reporters to turn Google into something it's not. BusinessWeek is one of the leading culprits behind this trend, as the magazine has charged itself with the task of being the key portal for Web 2.0 hype. Is Google the next SAP, the next Cisco, the next Krispy Kreme or the next Superhyperglobaldatamart? Quite frankly, the question is offensive for Google. It's rude to ask a broker of text ads if they plan to create the next middleware mass that takes months to install and teams of people to run. Google does not appear to be in the kludge-making business despite the Google Video aberration. At some point, Google's stock will drop and some sanity will return to the market and the press. SAP is safe for now. ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jan 2006
graph up

Microsoft greenlights 'live' use of WinFX beta code

Microsoft is greenlighting development and rollout of applications based on beta code contained in the WinFX programming framework and architecture. Code for the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) - elements of WinFX - have been made available under Microsoft's Go Live Licenses, which allow developers to build and deploy applications before the Windows product concerned moves from beta. Developers beware: you're on your own if you accept Microsoft's offer of a Go Live License. Beta code released under Go Live is not supported by the company - so forget patches or fixes, especially in favorite areas such as security. Applications additionally run the risk of being at odds with the final WinFX, WCF and WWF architectures once they are deemed code-complete by Microsoft and released. According to Microsoft, the Go Live licenses help "drive the feedback loop between customers and Microsoft. This helps us ensure that the product we ultimately ship meets the stability, reliability and needs of our customers." Full terms and conditions can be viewed here. WinFX was originally slated for release as part of Windows Vista, back in 2003, but as that operating system slipped to the second half of 2006 Microsoft instead decided to also make it available for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003. WinFX is Microsoft's XML-based API layer that supersedes programming in Win 32. WCF is an API programming layer designed to simplify development of, and connection to, web services for developers using Windows. WWF is a set of APIs, runtime and editor for developers to build workflows that are not embedded in the software. Microsoft has used Go Live before to stimulate demand for technologies and seed the market ahead of a product's launch or in the face of delay. The first Go Live Licenses were introduced in June 2001 for Visual Studio.NET - eight months before shipment of the first .NET implementation of Microsoft's popular integrated development environment (IDE). Microsoft hoped to gain early traction for the fledgling .NET. Go Live Licenses were also used for the delayed Visual Studio 2005. ®
Gavin Clarke, 18 Jan 2006