Adobe Systems has raided Sun Microsystems' executive ranks to pick up John Loiacono as its new SVP in charge of creative solutions. At Sun, Loiacono served as the company's top software executive, managing products such as Java and Solaris. Now, he will oversee Adobe's vast portfolio of products from Photoshop and Illustrator to the freshly acquired Macromedia Flash and Dreamweaver lines. Johnny L, as the Sun crew called him, will report to Adobe's prez and COO Shantanu Narayen. Sun's prez and COO Jonathan Schwartz will take over Loiacono's duties for the moment. "With John's leadership we will continue to innovate across the creative markets to deliver integrated suites that simplify workflows, while at the same time delighting our customers with cutting edge new product features that keep our software ahead of the competition," Narayen said. Loiacono seemed destined to be a Sun lifer. The smooth talking, marketing whiz always had the right answer about why Sun's strategy would win out in the end. That said, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what might have tempted Loiacono to leave. While Sun once dwarfed Adobe, the graphics specialist now boasts a $21.5bn market cap compared to Sun's $16.6bn. Sun has managed to pull back a former Linux marketing guru to help out the software team. Peder Ulander, who left Sun in 2004 for MontaVista, will join Sun next week as VP of software marketing, according to a report on CNET. Ulander's return shows that Sun got at least something out of its $2bn buy of Cobalt - the company where Ulander made headway hawking Linux-based server appliances. Former Cobalt CEO Stephen DeWitt lobbed a lawsuit at Sun this week from his new post as CEO of Java hardware start-up Azul. Good times. A couple positives about Loiacono's departure will be that we don't have to spell his last name all that much anymore and that the former Sun exec can use whatever OS he likes. ®
Steve Ballmer has kicked-off a $500m marketing push designed to convince businesses they really need to buy the planned Windows Vista and Office 2007. Speaking in New York on Thursday, Ballmer unveiled Microsoft's new "vision" - "people-ready" business - a vision that apparently boils down to using Windows Vista and Office 2007, due later this year, with new email and collaboration applications to help improve companies' team-based productivity. Any of this sounding familiar? See the launch of Office 2000, XP, 2003... The difference this time though is IBM who, according to Ballmer, is offering a services-based approach to collaboration compared to Microsoft's approach of providing software. "We're staking out a position quite different than our leading competitor. That's IBM," Ballmer told press. "We are talking about making the people in the business more productive. IBM increasingly is a services company. At the end of the day, we're a software company." Ballmer wrapped his "people-ready" presentation with a very serious pitch from fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger on how technology is an "enabler" and, surprise, empowers people with the resources they need to position the company for success. Microsoft is promoting Windows Vista and Office 2007 to businesses having, so-far, largely failed in this respect. Chief software architect Bill Gates positioned Windows Vista as software for consumers at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Advances in Office 2007, meanwhile, continue Microsoft's ongoing mission to integrate Office with its server products, while making many of the suite's existing capabilities easier for users to actually find. ®
Geek TVGeek TV 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 Off the telly and on the web I'll overlook the small issue of there not being enough HD-ready tellies to go round for the World Cup, and move swiftly on to the real story of the moment: Star Wars: the TV show. The latest word from George Lucas is that the series, which is set to run for 100 episodes (not so much run, then, as hurl itself into the air like the Evel Knievel of shark-jumping), will screen in 3D. "Do you mean in the old-fashioned 3D?" asked a Time magazine interviewer, clearly frightened. "Yeah, with glasses and everything," replied Lucas. 3D TV? Did Lucas mis-hear his assistant when she mentioned HDTV? Money can't buy you perfect ears, George. But it increasingly looks as though the future of TV isn't even HD - it's PC. With a Google survey finding that the net has overtaken the box as the nation's favourite time-filler (164 minutes a day vs 148 minutes), our big TV channels are falling over themselves to get their shows online. So you've got each full episode of The Apprentice on demand for a week after it's screened; clips from all six episodes of The IT Crowd to keep you happy until series two appears, and a wealth of sci-fi, including Doctor Who behind-the-scenes docs, Battlestar Galactica deleted scenes, X Files outtakes and Shatner-vintage Star Trek. Best of the web TV bunch, though (at least when you're suffering the 4pm blues at work), is Web Junk 20, in which VH1 rounds up the week's best virals and puts them on the telly. And then stick the whole series back on the web. See a Russian chihuahua humping an orange soft toy! See a Russian chihuahua humping an orange soft toy again! And again! (etc) Back with Doctor Who, you may wish to know that the Beeb has unveiled the cover design for the Christmas Invasion DVD, which will also contain New Earth, first episode of the upcoming new series. Release date is 1 May. Five to watch this week: Masterchef Goes Large, Fri 17 March, BBC2, 6.30pm Forget comedy swearing boy Ramsay: if you want tension in the kitchen, this is it. Tonight's the grand final. Everybody Hates Chris, Sun 19 March, 8pm A double-bill intro to Chris Rock's hit US sitcom. V: The Mini series, from Mon 20 March, SciFi, nightly at 10.10pm (rpt 1.50am) Legendary sci-fi series about alien visitors who hide a deadly secret. Green Wing, from Mon 20 March, C4, nightly at 11.05pm Repeating the first series of the surreal soap-comedy-drama that's basically Scrubs in Smack the Pony form. The Apprentice, Weds 22 March, BBC2, 9pm Private jet hire blah blah you're fired blah blah. Paul line of the week: "Their noodles... are made with poodles."
Demand for new notebooks slumped this quarter, reports coming out of Taiwan's contract manufacturing industry suggest, though at this stage it's unclear whether buyers are holding off from making purchases while they wait for Windows Vista, lower dual-core system prices or both.
These days I do a bit of pimping (a.k.a. "quant headhunting" in polite company - a "quant" is a quantitative analyst doing high-value numerical analysis) for expensive people at banks. It may scare or delight you, but a lot of the financial markets are run off C++ with Excel VBA.
Vodafone is to flog its troubled Japanese operation to Softbank for £8.9bn (Y1.8 trillion), the monster cellco confirmed today. Its retreat from Japan follows bucket loads of speculation about the future of the business, confirmed earlier this month when Voda announced that it was in talks to sell the business. Although Vodafone Japan had some 14m subscribers in July 2005 - putting it in third place behind DoCoMo and KDDI - recently it has seen revenue and prospects slide. Voda insists it has has been making "progress on the turnaround in recent months". However, due to increased competition in Japan, "reduced prospects for superior long term returns" and SoftBank's tempting offer of almost £9bn, Voda decided the deal was good for shareholders. Indeed, once the sale is compete the cellco intends to return £6bn to investors, equivalent to around 10p a share. "I am pleased to announce this transaction which represents a good outcome for Vodafone," said Voda boss Arun Sarin, who has been under pressure in recent weeks following damaging allegations of boardroom splits. Shares in Vodafone were up 2p (1.54 per cent) at 132p in early morning trading. ®
CommentComment After all these years you would assume, wouldn't you, that database optimisers were pretty good? Companies like IBM and Oracle have been costing query plans and re-writing SQL not just for years but for decades, so you would expect they would know what they were doing. Well, if that’s the case, how come ActiveBase and its UK distributor Application Performance, can making a living out of selling the former’s ActiveKnowledge product, which has been expressly designed to improve optimiser performance though, to be fair to IBM, only for Oracle? ActiveKnowledge acts like what you might describe as a SQL Firewall. That is, it intercepts all incoming SQL, does various clever things with it, and then passes it on to the database to process. What, of course, is important is the "clever things". So, what are these? The main "clever thing" that ActiveKnowledge does is to assume the optimiser doesn’t know how to calculate costs accurately. The company’s view is that costs can only ever be estimated and that those estimates will always include inaccuracies which, in turn, will result in queries running more slowly than would otherwise be the case. ActiveBase contends that the only way you can accurately calculate the costs of a query are to run the query multiple times using multiple options and actually find out in practice which is the best way to run a particular query. This is exactly what the product does: determines multiple execution strategies and then benchmarks them. For obvious reasons, therefore, the product is most suitable for environments where you have many queries that are repeated on a regular basis. Following on from the determination of the most efficient way to run any particular query you can then derive a rule to correct the execution path, for this query (and any other queries that are similar to it), which is then activated and the improved query is passed to the database whenever this query arises. Other facilities provided include SQL rewrite, support for hints, blocking rules (for example, blocking Cartesian joins), query delays, and so forth. In addition, Application Performance is developing rules packs for specific application environments such as Chordiant, Siebel and so on. There is also an auditing module that allows you to inspect usage information in a graphical fashion, with details such as the number of reports submitted daily and average query times. Of course, the real proof of this particular pudding will be to see it improving the performance of your queries, which Application Performance will be happy to demonstrate in a proof of concept. Existing customers have reported a variety of results, ranging from an average performance improvement of 30 per cent to some queries with as much as an 80 per cent improvement. At one Siebel installation, the company was able to bring down elapsed time for one query from over 10 minutes to 30 seconds. These results highlight another consideration: this is not just for queries you run regularly, it is also for queries that run in a relatively short period. This should be obvious: running benchmarks for queries that take days would typically be too onerous (except on a test system). Nevertheless, improving the performance of all those short queries releases resources for those longer running enquiries so this should produce a spin-off benefit. In a nutshell: it is certainly worth considering if you are an Oracle user. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com
Lenovo is slashing 1,000 jobs and shutting some facilities in an effort to save $250m a year. The consolidation program comes less than a year after the Chinese PC giant bought the former IBM PC operation. Reuters reports that a six to 12 month restructuring plan at the vendor will see it cut its headcount by 5 per cent, and that the cuts will be spread across North America, Asia and Europe. The program will cost it $100m in the current quarter, but should yield savings of $250m. Local reports in the US point to some shifting of facilities, including moving its corporate headquarters from New York state, the home of IBM, to North Carolina. The restructure was announced just days after the company overhauled its channel operation, launching the Lenovo Partner Network. This will feature two tiers of membership: Business Partner; and Premium. It will also see a bigger emphasis on the SMB market, with the company pledging to triple the amount if spends on lead generation in this market.®
Yesterday, we reported on Memorex's disk-shaped 16MB USB Flash drive, the company's newly announced bit to bring those few remaining floppy disk users into the sold-state storage era. Today, we learn Verbatim is getting in on the act too - with exactly the same product.
Home Office assumptions about the high performance of tagging equipment, used to monitor prisoners on early release, is based on "woefully inadequate" evidence, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee were told. The MPs heard from barristers that two of their clients, released from prison under a home detention curfew, were fitted with electronic tags by Home Office's contractor, Group 4 Securicor (G4S). When both men reported to G4S that the tags had come off due to problems with their straps, they found themselves back in prison. The Home Office rejected the men's appeals against recall to prison and the straps were destroyed, despite the request that they be retained for evidence. Last year the Home Office spent more than £100m on electronic tagging. The system is now an integral part of the criminal justice system and there are plans to extend tagging for offenders and asylum seekers. But the MPs heard that although more than 225,000 people have been tagged since 1999, Home Office figures show that only two straps have been tested during that time. Both tests were carried out on a single occasion on 2 July 2004. The committee was following up on a National Audit Office (NAO) report, published in February 2006, which shows that Home Office requirements that contractors carry out manual checks every 28 days, are not adhered to. Two barristers, Ian Wise and Caoilfhionn Gallagher from London's Doughty Street Chambers, go further: "We are not aware of any independent monitoring or auditing of tags and equipment performance once fitted. We are not aware of any independent monitoring of contractors' staff competence at installing and fitting electronic monitoring," they told MPs in a written report submitted at the hearing. Financial penalties imposed on the tagging contractors for poor performance, create an incentive to not to take proper responsibility for problems, the barristers said. Tom Riall, chief executive of tagging supplier Serco Home Affairs, told the committee that in 2005 his company paid the Home Office £41,000 in penalties. G4S managing director David Taylor-Smith said in the last 12 months his company had paid £100,000 in penalties. Taylor-Smith said most of this was before April 2005, when his company introduced a new national IT system to streamline its processes. Taylor-Smith said he was 100 per cent satisfied with his company's equipment. "We have yet to find an example of someone circumventing the equipment," he said. The barristers believe the current electronic tagging system is poorly structured, with private contractors being responsible for implementing a system and monitoring their own performance. They also claim the NAO's report does not fully examine equipment performance and "does not touch on" human error in fitting tags. "Rigorous and independent scrutiny of electronic monitoring schemes is required," Wise and Gallagher's report said. "Without such scrutiny, it is difficult to assess whether the schemes represent value for money and respect the rights of those most affected by electronic monitoring – those who wear the tags." Conservative MP Richard Bacon, acting chair of the committee, also raised the issue of problems with finalising paperwork so that prisoners can be released. The NAO examined 100 case files. It found that 58 prisoners were granted release under a home detection curfew, but only 28 of these (48 per cent) were released on their eligibility date. This article was originally published at Kablenet.
Japanese hardware company Ratoc has announced one of the first external Serial ATA (eSATA) adaptors that connect add-on hard disk drives and RAID arrays like the LaCie Two Big to a host computer using the new, notebook-oriented ExpressCard 34 format.
Consumer spending on fixed-line telecoms services in Western Europe is set to decline, and Ireland will see an especially dramatic fall, according to a new study. In the report, research firm Analysys indicates that growth in TV and video services delivered over broadband will not be enough to halt the fall in the value of fixed-line telecoms services. Analysys' forecast reveals that end-user spending on fixed telecoms services in Western Europe is set to decline to below three-quarters of a per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2011 - half its value in 2001. According to Rupert Wood, main author of the report, the average decline in expenditure on fixed-line telecoms services in Europe will be 10.8 per cent. However, Ireland is expected to experience an above average decline of 15.42 per cent in nominal terms. "The decline in Ireland is partly a result of the fact that the country is expensive in terms of telecoms," said Wood, speaking to ElectricNews.net. "In terms of voice, Ireland is characterised by high fixed-voice usage but also high average spend per fixed-voice minute. This means that there's quite a long way to come down as voice moves towards VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol] and mobile. Despite the fact that there's still quite a lot of growth from broadband envisaged in Ireland, this won't be enough to stem the decline in itself. "Most incumbents in Europe are now in a position to migrate some of that value to mobile and possibly to other services such as IPTV, but there isn't going to be sufficient revenue growth in these services to make up for the deficit that such firms will experience over the coming years." The report shows that the rate of decline in fixed service spending will vary by country, but that in several countries, spend will fall by over 20 per cent over the next six years. Moreover, expenditure on voice services will fall to just over 50 per cent of fixed service spending by 2011, due to increased use of VoIP and mobile phones. The Analysys report also reveals that broadband take-up is continuing to exceed operator expectations. The research firm expects average household penetration in Western Europe to reach 60 per cent by 2011. Nonetheless, the firm believes that a combination of price erosion and saturation will halt real growth in basic access before the end of the decade, leaving operators looking for new ways to generate revenues from fixed networks. "TV and video services over broadband represent the greatest hope for maintaining spend levels, but in most European countries fixed operators would have to grow impossibly high Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) on TV and video in order to compensate for the scale of losses in voice and internet," Wood said. Copyright © 2006, ENN
Cisco has taken the wraps off its upcoming video conferencing technology, which it promises will be able to convincingly convey body language across the ether. eWeek reports that CEO John Chambers touted its “telepresence” system at a partner summit in San Diego this week. The firm reckons that within seven years, most interactions within companies or between companies and customers will be video driven. The telepresence technology will hit the market by this autumn, as part of the Unified Communication suite the vendor launched this month. Part of the pitch is much-enhanced sound quality – designed to give the impression that participants are in the same room. A frightening prospect perhaps, if it means the sound of palms rubbing on nylon plus assorted gastric gurglings are going to be reproduced in full surround sound. Equally disturbing is the prospect of conveying body language. One might think restricting the amount of “body language” circulated around the organisation is a small price to pay for preventing the kind of misunderstandings that end up in harassment suits. ®
A remote volcanic island has erupted in the South Pacific, promting an emergency evacuation. The explosion on the New Zealand territory of Raoul island in the Kermadec chain has left one man missing. A New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) official said: "A helicopter has been sent to pick up the DOC staff that are based on the island, five of whom have been accounted for. One staff member is missing after going on a routine mission." Rescuers trying to locate the unaccounted for worker have been beaten back by the eruption. A spokesperson said: "Two staff members on the island attempted to search the area where the missing person was thought to be but had to retreat due to further volcanic activity and the track being impassable with fallen trees and ash." The plan is to refuel the helicopter and try again on Saturday. Clusters of small earthquakes had been reported on Raoul earlier this week but had fallen off close to the explosion. The tremors were centred 12 to 15 km away from the island itself. There were apparently no warning signs of increased volcanic activity on Raoul itself. The last time Raoul erupted was back in 1964 (pictured above). The eruption of Raoul's Green Lake, a water-filled caldera, began at 8.21am Friday local time. The missing researcher had gone to check the water temperature. The blast was accompanied by a mild earthquake, estimated at three to four on the Richter scale. The Kermadec Islands lie about 1,000km northeast of Auckland on the Kermadec trench, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The Australasian tectonic plate meets the Pacific plate at the base of the trench. The vulcanism is produced as the Australasian plate collides with its neighbour forcing it under - a process called subduction. ®
Sony will today begin taking pre-orders for its upcoming Blu-ray Disc player after yesterday naming the dates on which it will ship the machine and Vaio PCs that incorporate the next-generation optical disc technology. The BDP-S1 will ship in the US in July - two months after the first BD movies are set to hit US stores.
BT has taken a sideswipe at Orange as it looks to poach more punters in the lucrative small biz market. Last month, cellco Orange announced plans to offer fixed line phone services to business users in the UK. Piggybacking on Cable & Wireless' (C&W) network, the France Telecom-owned business said its Landline for Business service would provide fixed line services with call charges up to 20 per cent cheaper than BT. Now, BT has launched its own fixed and mobile calls combo called "BT Business Plan with Mobile", which, it tells us, has been on trial since July last year. Apparently, it offers SMEs one bill, an annual five per cent discount on combined fixed and mobile calls, capped rates on fixed line calls, and preferential rates on mobile to mobile and mobile to the office calls. And, in a pop at its rival, BT Business MD Bill Murphy said: "This plan goes significantly further than the offering from competitors like Orange. Their price comparisons are made against our standard rate, a rate which most of our BT Business Plan customers do not pay. "What's more, this service is already working, it's available now and it's been on trial successfully since July, delivering tangible benefits to customers." ®
A date has been set for the first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF): Monday 30 October to Thursday 2 November in Athens, Greece. At the same time, the United Nations has announced a 40-strong body made up of representatives from governments, private sector, civil society and the academic and technical communities to decide on how the meeting will be run and what it will discuss. The issue of when the first meeting will be held has been a matter of some conjecture thanks to the four-year grand meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Turkey from 6 to 24 November. For political reasons, some countries wanted the IGF to meet before the ITU meeting, others after. The 40-strong advisory group was also a bone of contention but consensus has now been reached and submissions for group members will be taken from now until 18 April. Soon after, the group will meet for the first time. An IGF secretariat, headed by Markus Kummer, will be based at the UN's headquarters in Geneva - something that was effectively decided when the Swiss government offered to pay for it. It was generally agreed at a preparatory meeting in Geneva last month that the IGF will have a one-topic headline focus with another one or two main sub-topics. The UN has produced a list which it has diplomatically labelled a), b), c) etc, but which seems to be a list in order of importance, so expect to see the top three become the basis for worldwide discussion in November. The UN list: a) Spam b) Multilingualism c) Cybercrime d) Cybersecurity e) Privacy and Data Protection f) Freedom of Expression and Human Rights g) International Interconnection Costs h) Bridging the Digital Divide: Access and Policies i) Bridging the Digital Divide: Financing j) Rules for e-commerce, e-business and consumer protection. You can find out more about the IGF on its website at www.intgovforum.org. The Greek government has set up a separate website for the Athens meeting at http://igf-greece2006.org/. ®
Warner Home Video's US HD DVD roll-out will be smaller and later than previously anticipated. The home entertainment company yesterday said it would ship a mere three titles on 18 April, offering Million Dollar Baby, The Last Samurai and The Phantom of the Opera for $29 a pop. It promised 17 more HD DVDs will follow in the weeks after the initial offering.
The oldest light in the universe has allowed scientists to view the universe just one trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite was aimed at the background radiation left over from the beginning of the universe for three years. Principal invesigator Charles Bennett said: "The longer WMAP observes, the more it reveals about how our universe grew from microscopic quantum fluctuations to the vast expanse of stars and galaxies we see today." The work has improved the resolution of the map of tiny fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) left over from the Big Bang (pictured). It has also produced the first data on the polarisation of the CMB, which reveals even more about the features it contains. In the team's map of the cosmic microwave background 'temperature' (pictured above) red indicates 'warmer' spots and blue 'cooler' spots. The white bars show the polarisation direction of the ancient light. The data shows that for smaller features the relative strength of the signal is lower. NASA says this new information supports a more simple version of how energy was converted into matter by the inflation of space. WMAP continues to peer at the infant universe, which the researchers expect will improve their data. A big aim of the study is to provide indirect evidence for the existence of gravitational waves by detecting distortion in the polarisation signature. Gravitational waves are a key prediction of Einstein's General Relativity equations. ®
A French couple who had their bodies frozen in in the hope that medical science would one day be able to resurrect them have had to be sent up the chimney after a bit of bother with the leccy. Cryonics pioneer Doctor Raymond Martinot stuck his wife in cold storage back 1984. He paid for his massive refrigeration bill by inviting tourists to gawp at the chest freezer. Son Remy added Ray to the stiff collection in the crypt of their chateau when he too snuffed it in 2002. A bitter Remy recounted the disaster to AFP: "I realised in February that after a technical incident their temperature had risen to -20C probably for several days. The alert system [on the freezer] had not worked and I decided at that point that it was not reasonable to continue." The cruel twist must be a real kick in the teeth for Remy, who had fought a long-running legal battle with authorities to be allowed to keep his folks on ice. When court ordered them in January to be buried or cremated, Remy said he would appeal the decision at the European Court of Human Rights. ®
Dear old BT. Bless 'em. Even on St Patrick's Day they couldn't organise a booze up in a pub. The mighty telco has just launched a fixed and mobile calls combo for businesses. According to Bill Murphy, MD of BT Business: "This plan goes significantly further than the offering from competitors like Orange. What's more, this service is already working, it's available now and it's been on trial successfully since July, delivering tangible benefits to customers. Wow. Sounds great. So we checked out BT's website to find out more. "Sorry, but we've been unable to find a match for your query", was the reply from BT.com. So we called a PR just to check. "Is it still not up?" he said. Strange. So we called BT's sales staff to find out more about BT Business Plan with Mobile. "It hasn't actually come out yet," said the operator helpfully. "We were only given brief details yesterday." After a very long pause during which he was trying to find out more info he passed us on to a lovely lady with a fab Irish accent. So we asked again about BT Business Plan with Mobile. "We don't know about that," she said. What? So we read the details of the package from the press release. "They haven't filtered this down to us yet," she said. "We only do landlines." But didn't Bill Murphy say the service is "already working" and "available now"? Oh, and that trial that's been ongoing since last July? Big trial do you think? Well, if 20 businesses constitutes a big trial, then yes. ®
We always knew the Swedes were a shifty bunch - softening hearts worldwide with a pleasing blend of inoffensive europop, cheap yet effortlessly stylish flat-pack furniture and fun-loving, pnemuatic blonde fillies - but now the horrible truth can now be revealed: they're planning to colonise the Moon thereby ensuring their own survival as the Earth's resources dwindle and lesser nations are returned to a primitive Stone-Age state enslaved to Sweden's galactic ambitions*. The proof comes in the form of the innocent-looking SMART-Centre which, according to various reports, has assembled a consortium of more than 50 partners - including Japan's Shimizu Corporation, US NASA contractor Orbitech and the UK's Cranfield University - to turn the centre's Dr. Niklas Järvstråt's dreams of extraterrestrial conquest into reality. Järvstråt first pitched the idea of colonising the Moon over ten years ago. His plan is to establish a self-sustaining community "where the great circle of life can be sustained in its entirety by lunar raw materials and where all life-sustaining products will be manufactured in situ". Here's more from SMART-Centre's blurb: The colony aims to be self-sustaining in its requirements for sustenance, but it will nevertheless function in symbiosis with Earth. As a result, trade between the lunar colony and Earth will flourish, with the lunar colony contributing towards the development of research and scientific activities, such as, for example, the supply of alternative energy based on advancements in Helium3 fusion power, and provision of structural materials for spacecraft and satellites in earth orbit as well as deep space. At this time of potential fossil fuel shortages, threats of global warming, cultural clashes, and population explosion, this concept might well be what stops man's over-exploitation of Mother Earth by uniting governments and nations, scientists and laymen in mutual cooperation and understanding. Yeah right. Once the Swedes have got their mitts on the Moon, we can see them indulging in "in mutual cooperation and understanding" with those of us left back on Earth. I'm tempted, at this point, to stick in a reference to Hugo Drax and the creation of a race of blonde space superbeings, but since I have no doubt whatsoever that the Swedes will succeed in their dastardly plan, I'll instead point out to Järvstråt that his Moonstad will certainly need top-quality IT journalists to participate in its breeding programme. My CV's in the post, and I look forward to hearing from you shortly. ® Bootnote *ie, working as slave labour in Saab's hyperdrive facility.
South Korean police have begun to target people who download content from P2P networks not only those who make such material available. According to local reports, Seoul Jongo law enforcement officers have questioned 57 people after monitoring download activity on at least one P2P service earlier this month.
Three "high-risk" parolee gang members in San Bernadino, California, have been fitted with GPS ankle bracelets to ensure they do not go wandering off into "unauthorised areas", Reuters reports. State Department of Corrections speokeswoman Sarah Ludeman explained: "GPS tracking is just another tool in the bag; we will still use ground personnel to track gang members." The trio of ne'er-do-wells will appear as moving dots on a map, and if they try and remove the bracelet or enter said unauthorized areas, "the device sends an alert to a base station monitored by law enforcement officials". The University of California at Irvine will review the results of this pilot program and assess its effectiveness. ®
More oversexed OAP shenanigans, this time from Italy. A car was pulled over north east of Milan for zigzagging across the highway. The polizia making the stop was confronted by the sight of a 70-year-old woman in her birthday suit attempting to have sex with the 59-year-old male driver. A spokesman said that after demanding the canoodlers get dressed the officer found the man was three times over the drink-drive limit and arrested him. In fairness, the sight of a senior citizen striptease would drive many to a, ahem, stiff drink. It's unknown if the couple were married, but the spokesman said: "Married people probably wouldn't probably do anything like this." ®
Google has won a legal action brought over a Usenet posting that the search giant archived and partially displayed in search results. Writer Gordon Roy Parker had claimed that this breached his copyright in the posting, a chapter of an e-book. Parker, who represented himself in the suit, publishes online under the name “Snodgrass Publishing Group”. One of his publications was an e-book entitled “29 Reasons Not To Be A Nice Guy” and at some time he posted Reason 6 from this book onto a Usenet forum, the worldwide network of discussion groups. In August 2004 he filed a lawsuit, alleging that when Google robots had automatically scanned and archived the posting in a cache, the search engine had breached his copyright in the material. Google had also directly infringed his copyright by including excerpts of the text in search results, he said. Judge R Barclay Surrick of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania did not agree. “It is clear that Google’s automatic archiving of Usenet postings and excerpting of websites in its results to users’ search queries do not include the necessary volitional element to constitute direct copyright infringement,” he wrote. Nor did he accept that the automatic caching of material amounted to infringement, following a January ruling by the Navada District Court on this very point. There was no contributory copyright infringement either, said Judge Surrick. Parker had claimed that Google was in breach because it allowed others to view infringed content, but had not provided evidence – particularly in relation to Google’s knowledge of the supposedly infringing activity – to support this claim. Parker also alleged that Google was guilty of defamation because it archived defamatory comments made about the writer in other Usenet postings and websites. But Judge Surrick dismissed the claim, advising that Google was immune from prosecution in respect of third party postings by virtue of a provision in the Communications Decency Act. This generally grants immunity from suit to those who provide material on the internet that was written by others. The Communications Decency Act also protected Google against Parker’s claims in respect of invasion of privacy and negligence, wrote the Judge. He then dismissed other claims in respect of alleged racketeering and civil conspiracy on the grounds that they were “completely incomprehensible”. Parker is planning to appeal, according to reports. The ruling (pdf) Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
PreviewPreview 2006: the year of High Definition video, Blu-ray and HD DVD. Well, that's the way things are looking at the moment, with just about every consumer electronics manufacturer in the world jumping on the bandwagon. These technologies aren't exclusively reserved for the consumer-electronics market - they're coming to the PC as well, and Samsung is the first manufacturer with a PC Blu-ray drive ready to go...
Going down the pub tonight? Wanna impress your mates? Or maybe even a lady friend? Here's a cracking bit of info that's sure to make you Mr Popular and a master of repartée. What is the average broadband speed that punters receive in the UK? Go on. See if you can guess. If you said "a coupla meg maybe", then give yourself a pat on the back. Well done. That's pretty close. Now work it out within eight decimal places. 'Cos that's what research consultancy XTN Data has done. Its survey of 1,000 broadband users found that the average speed in the UK is 1.92337164 mbps. Isn't that great? It isn't? Oh well, please yourself. ®
Sony will next month extend its line of dual-role displays - they operate as a TV and as a computer monitor - with a 20in widescreen HD model capable of being wall-mounted and has a 3D sound capability.
Does Intel really need to worry about AMD? Not if the latest figures from market watcher iSuppli are anything to go by. The chip giant's small rival may have been justifiably touting some x86 market share gains, but Intel remains way ahead in real semiconductor market terms.
Mouse maker Razer has apparently announced a keyboard with an integrated universal iPod dock - the first product of its kind, ever, the company claims. The Pro|Type Multimedia Keyboard also provides a set of media keys for controlling iTunes, along with ten macro command hot keys and a picture zoom in and out control. The keyboard has two USB ports on board for connecting mice and other peripherals. It's also got line-out audio ports. There's no word yet on availability or pricing. ®
For proof that man will soon live in outer space, you need only look at Christopher Columbus. Or so said space whiz and senior SETI astronomer Seth Shostak during a lecture last night at NASA Ames.