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Salesforce cheers one-month of uptime with outage

One day you're a company touting an ultra-reliable service. The next day you're apologizing for launching a denial of service attack against your own customers. Such is life for Salesforce.com. On Wednesday, Salesforce issued a statement saying, it "has delivered 99.999% planned uptime and availability on its service to its customers" in March. The online CRM vendor even handled a whopping 40m transaction in a single day. "There is no finish line when it comes to system reliability and availability, and our efforts to improve performance never cease," said Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com's CEO, who was more than happy to pat himself on the back. "Our community of success demands the most reliable service that we can deliver, and our outstanding performance in March is evidence of our dedication to scaling ahead of their needs." Customers today, however, were left wondering what kind of scaling needs Salesforce was addressing when its site crapped out, making it impossible for several customers to do their work. Clients worldwide were affected for at least an hour, and North American users saw Salesforce.com go down for about four hours. Salesforce blamed the issue on a cache server overload, which it tried to fix by restarting the cache servers. The plan didn't work and forced administrators to yank the cache servers altogether. That, in turn, led to a lingering slow down in service. Rather than touting its server virility, Salesforce was left begging for forgiveness. "We apologize for any inconvenience these issues may have caused," the company said on a new web site meant to alert customers to service woes. Salesforce.com set up the web site last December after an embarrassing database meltdown left customers enraged. You can bet Salesforce.com will think twice in the future about issuing such lofty praise for itself. Best to let the customers handle that kind of thing. ®
Ashlee Vance, 07 Apr 2006

Sony schedules DVD/HDD recorder re-vamp

Sony this week unveiled a raft of DVD writers with built-in hard disk storage, two of which will also feature GemStar Guide Plus+ electronic programme guide (EPG). The five new models sport hard drives of between 80GB and 250GB unformatted storage capacity and DVD±R/RW drives with dual-layer support.
Tony Smith, 07 Apr 2006

Liteon to ship slotload DVD writer

Liteon will this month ship an external DVD writer that uses a slot-load mechanism rather than the more commonplace drawer system. The company is pitching the product at notebook users, though its slimline styling should appeal to desktop users too.
'ard Reg, 07 Apr 2006

Watchdog rules in favour of 'greediest man in Britain'

Publishing a photo of a man in his own home without his consent was a breach of his privacy, according to a ruling from the Press Complaints Commission today. The photo was included in a Sunday Mercury article on "the greediest man in Britain". West Bromwich resident Christopher Bourne had complained to the press watchdog over a 4 December report by the local paper portraying him as a "modern-day Scrooge" because he had purchased 30 Xbox 360s to sell them on eBay, taking advantage of the pre-Christmas shortage of the games consoles. Bourne had spoken to the newspaper, but had refused to pose for a picture, agreeing instead to let the paper take a picture of his son with the Xboxes. However, the article was not only critical of Bourne, it included his picture rather than his son's. Bourne complained, arguing that the article was inaccurate and misleading, and that the publication of the photo amounted to a breach of a clause in the watchdog's Code of Practice that states: Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications. Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent – private places being public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. The Press Complaints Commission dismissed the accuracy complaint, on the grounds that the Sunday Mercury's characterisation of Bourne reflected its opinion of him - which it was entitled to express - and that it was not really inaccurate in its calculation of the profit he was likely to make from the sales. But the watchdog upheld the privacy complaint, agreeing that the publication of the photo breached Bourne's privacy. "The editor had not denied that the complainant had refused permission for his picture to be taken and published," says the ruling. "The complainant was in his own home - a place where he clearly had a reasonable expectation of privacy - when the photograph was taken. There would have had to have been a convincing public interest defence for surreptitiously taking and then publishing a picture of someone in their own home." In this case, the commission said, the conduct of the Sunday Mercury was not proportional to any public interest in publishing the photo. Bourne had not "committed any crime or serious impropriety or sought to mislead any of his potential customers," it said. There was therefore limited public interest in ignoring Bourne's wishes not to be photographed, and what little there was did not justify the privacy intrusion. See: The ruling Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 07 Apr 2006

Firm pitches $2,800 64GB USB Flash disk

US-based storage specialist Kanguru has launched the product for Flash disk fans who are unhappy with the weenie capacity most USB drives offer: a memory key with a whopping 64GB of storage capacity. The downside? It'll cost you rather more than your computer probably did.
Tony Smith, 07 Apr 2006

Sky mulls 'free broadband' - report

Sky has become the latest outfit to be linked with a move to provide cheap or "free" broadband, according to the Guardian. The satellite TV outfit will cut the ribbon on its broadband access service later this year following its £211m acquisition of ISP Easynet. With a phone and broadband service bolted on to its existing TV operation, this would place it head-to-head with quad-play cableco NTL/Telewest, which is buying Virgin Mobile for £960m, and telco BT, which is launching its broadband TV service in autumn. According to The Guardian, execs are mulling a number of ideas including free broadband access to premium subscribers. Another option would be to offer cheap broadband. Either way, no decision has yet been made. Senior industry sources told El Reg they are not surprised by news of Sky's plans. Indeed, at such an early stage it's likely that all pricing options will be on the table for discussion ahead of a final decision prior to launch. Whether they are actually adopted remains to be seen. Last month it was reported that Carphone Warehouse is considering free broadband as part of a bundled phone package. The retailer-cum-telco is expected to release details of its broadband strategy this month following confirmation earlier this year that it plans to press ahead with a £45m investment in local loop unbundling. In February, BT played down reports that it is planning to offer punters a "free broadband dialtone" when its new 21st Century Network (21CN) is rolled out over the next couple of years. A spokesman for the UK's dominant fixed line telco distanced himself from the report, saying broadband "would not be free". It may be that a "broadband dialtone" may be available for rental - much like current arrangements for fixed line phone - but it is "not to be free", he told us. ®
Tim Richardson, 07 Apr 2006

Villa bet on 32Red for new sponsorship deal

32Red, the Gibraltar-based AIM-listed online casino and poker operator, has signed a seven figure sponsorship deal with Aston Villa. The two-year deal, beginning next season, will see the 32Red logo plastered on the footy club's shirts. 32Red chief exec Ed Ware said the deal would give the online gaming outfit national TV and press exposure. "Aston Villa FC is one of the UK's biggest clubs and we are very pleased to be associated with them," he said. ®
Team Register, 07 Apr 2006

Devil rabbit terrorises village

Pity if you will the poor burghers of the Northumberland village of Felton - living as they are under a palpable pall of fear provoked by the attentions of a monstrous, allotment-menacing devil rabbit. That's according to the Times, which reports that the "Beast of Felton" - a deer-sized, black and brown creature with "diabolically shaped ears" - has already decimated "a market stall's worth of Japanese onions, parsnips and spring carrots". The first sighting of the Mephistophelean herbivore came back in February. Allotment holder Jeff Smith, 63, recounted: "This is no ordinary rabbit. We are dealing with a monster. It's absolutely massive. "The first time I saw it, I wasn't sure what it was. Its prints are huge, about the size of a deer. It's a brute of a thing. We have two lads here with guns who are trying to shoot it, but it's too clever. They never see it." The two lads in question are hired guns tasked with killing the vegetarian vandal. One of the Magnificent Two, underkeeper Brian Cadman, said: "Only a few people have seen it so far but I've seen the evidence and I think it's going to be a big 'un. "I've been out here at night with another underkeeper. We have not had much luck yet, but you can see what it's been eating. It's been taking huge bites out of cabbages, carrots and turnips." With the beast still at large, the mood in Felton has turned from fear to vengeful anger. Smith told a meeting of the local parish council on Monday: "When we get it killed - when we shoot it - we are going to hang it up on a tree so folk can see it." Whether the locals then rushed to the village green with wooden agricultural implements and burning torches before storming into the night in search of the unholy creature's creator is not noted. Nick Park was unavailable for comment this morning. ® Bootnote Thanks to all those readers who've written to suggest that what the people of Felton really need is the Holy hand grenade of Antioch.
Lester Haines, 07 Apr 2006

Police bust UK's largest 'DVD piracy' factory

Police and trading standards officers in London made five arrests on Wednesday after raiding the largest pirate DVD manufacturing facility ever uncovered in the UK. The premises in Leyton, east London, contained over 500 individual DVD burners capable of producing over 60,000 pirate DVDs per day. Officers from the Metropolitan Police and Waltham Forest Trading Standards led the raid, which followed an investigation into the supply of counterfeit DVDs across London and the South East involving officers from the Met’s new Film Piracy Unit (FPU), a joint initiative with FACT (the Federation Against Copyright Theft). DVDs representing 300 different titles (including Ice Age 2) were seized during the raid, which resulted in the arrest of four men and one woman, who are being questioned by police. Officers from the FPU are investigating the finances of the illegal counterfeiting operation, which is suspected to be the work of Chinese organised crime in the UK. FACT's website has pictures of the factory here. ®
John Leyden, 07 Apr 2006

Air pollution will kill you eight months early

Here's some bad news for those of you hoping to escape the forthcoming bird flu apocalypse which will, according to the usual cheerful prophets of doom, kill 98.7 per cent of the UK population by August: you're going to die eight months early anyway because of the UK's air pollution. That's the gloomy conclusion of a Defra press release issued this week heralding a review of the Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although Defra says the UK's air quality has improved over the last fifteen years - claiming that "from 1990 to 2001 the improvements have helped avoid 4,200 premature deaths per annum and 3,500 hospital admissions", and that it's meeting current objectives for "pollutants like carbon monoxide, 1,3-butadiene, benzene and lead" - there's still much to be done. Local Environment minister Ben Bradshaw said: "Although our air is cleaner in overall terms than at any time since the industrial revolution, air pollution is not declining as quickly as expected. We need to move faster and take further measures to move us closer to meeting our objectives. "Pollutants from our cars, ships and industrial plants are still having a marked affect on our health, reducing the average life expectancy in the UK by eight months. "This can't continue. The measures outlined in this review would – if implemented – be a significant step forward in improving public health and our environment." The plan? Well, the government wants "tighter European vehicle emissions standards", more incentives for less polluting vehicles, and less crap pumped out of small combustion plants and ships. If it succeeds, by 2020 the result will be a three-month reduction in the bit of your life you've already lost to air pollution. That's to say, you'll only die five months earlier than you would have done if you'd been living in the Himalayas. Defra is now conducting a consultation on the review of its Air Quality Strategy. More details here. ®
Lester Haines, 07 Apr 2006

Dublin firm to target African mobile users

An Irish provider of online mobile data synchronisation solutions aims to target mobile phone users in emerging markets in Africa. SIMchronise, a Dublin-based start-up, showcased its wares to investors at this week's Goodbody Stockbrokers SummIT 2006 event. The firm is hopeful that it can secure €1.8m over two years so it can attempt to win over users in one of the world's fastest growing mobile markets. "Up to now we've funded ourselves and we can afford to do so for another six months at least, but we're looking to secure funding from venture capitalists in order to fully exploit the opportunities that exist for SIMchronise overseas," chief executive Phillipe Joly said. The company, which offers solutions that allow users to synchronise mobile phones with secure web-based accounts that back-up valuable data, is confident its service will prove popular on a continent which boasts an estimated 85m mobile phone users. SIMchronise's products uses SyncML, an XML based standards for data synchronisation. Mobile users don't have to have up-to-date handsets with Bluetooth or Infrared connectivity in order to use the company's solutions. Each user can back up their phone's contacts, calendar, tasks and notes onto their web-based account and also add new contacts to their phonebook. Crucially, users can then access the account to retrieve such information if they mislay their mobile. The company has recently held talks with mobile network operators in a number of African countries including South Africa and Namibia. Many of these operators are interested in offering SIMchronise's solutions as a value-add service to their subscribers. Joly told ElectricNews.Net that operators in Africa believe the company's products could not only help reduce churn by providing a real incentive to aid customer retention, but may also potentially increase ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) through increased data traffic. "There's been an awful lot of interest in SIMchronise from operators in Africa and we're hoping to take advantage of this by establishing an office in South Africa by the end of 2006 or beginning of 2007," Joly said. In addition to targeting mobile operators in Africa, the company has also teamed up with a German firm to offer a service called "GetBackUp". Closer to home, the company is about to launch Ireland's first mobile back-up service. PhoneBackUp.ie, which is to go live mid-April, will charge individual customers €2 per month to subscribe to the service. Joly, who established SIMchronise in 2005 alongside David Inglis and Frederic de Mont-Serrat, is a technology entrepreneur nominated in 2005 for a Net Visionary Award in the "Internet Entrepreneur" category. This was for one of his other ventures, Prepay.ie, a website which offers an alternative payment mechanism to credit cards. Copyright © 2006, ENN
Charlie Taylor, 07 Apr 2006

Bling bling: Nokia models L'Amour collection

Nokia went bling on Tuesday night with a catwalk display of new Irish fashion talent to complement the phone company's latest product line launch in Ireland. Inspired by contemporary vintage glamour, the Finnish mobile manufacturer is attempting to reach a niche market interested in phones as accessories with its new L'Amour collection. The L'Amour range includes the Nokia 7360, Nokia 7370 and Nokia 7380. "These are aspirant products but at the same time high tier products," Nokia Ireland's general manager Conor Pierce told ElectricNews.Net at the show in Dublin. "The youth market is where it's at, and the fashion mobile sector is a developing market. Nokia designers attend all the fashion shows every season to see what's going on. Well designed handsets that can play music are going to be driving that market soon," Pierce said. Around 560 people attended the fashion show at the new CHQ exhibition space in Dublin's Irish Financial Services Centre. Top fashion designers, John Rocha, Joanne Hynes and John McCormack, unveiled three unique one-off accessories to coincide with the launch of the new Nokia collection. John Rocha created a black-jet beaded pouch for the Nokia 7360. Joanne Hynes incorporated a Nokia 7380 into one of her signature hand-painted wooden bead necklaces. While John McCormack, last year's winner of the Nokia Young Fashion Designer of the Year Award, tailored a bandolier-style taupe sash designed to hold a Nokia 7360. Guests at the event heard that Nokia's design team used amber, ceramics, turquoise, silk and enamel for inspiration. Craft techniques, such as enamelling and etching, are supposed to add a creative spark to the graphics, materials, finishes and colours selected for each mobile phone model in the collection. The Nokia Young Fashion Designer Award 2006 was the biggest fashion show in Dublin since the Supermodels Show at the Point Depot in 2003. The catwalk was over 100 feet in length - the longest ever seen in Ireland. The finalists at the awards included nine students from the Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD), and one student each from the Grafton Academy, Limerick Senior College and Bray Institute of Education. Rebecca Garcia from LSAD won the top prize of EUR5,000, a Nokia handset, and a shop window display opportunity at the BT2 fashion store. This year is the 150th anniversary for Nokia and Pierce said the firm was originally established to supply wood pulp and rubber products. "I think you can still get rubber wellies made by Nokia but I don't think they're very fashionable any more," he said. Copyright © 2006, ENN
Maxim Kelly, 07 Apr 2006

Suffolk BlackBerry pickers pushed on gadget splurge

RIM BlackBerries have been called CrackBerries thanks to their users' addiction to the push email gizmos. But if the rumpus that's going down in the technological futureworld of Suffolk is anything to go by, they ain't as cheap as a good ol' honk on a crackpipe. Documents seen by local papers in East Anglia suggest the County Council has spent £60,000 buying and running 49 devices for its members and officials. Council tech chief Rocco Labellarte denied the figure, saying the real cost was closer to £22,000. In a finance meeting this week, he criticised local journalists, saying they'd misinterpreted the numbers. Local news site EDP24 reports Labour's Kevan Lim agreeing: “They might as well have been made up on the back of an envelope.” But other councillors turned on Labellarte in the hearing, repeatedly pushing him to clarify his BlackBerry budget. RIM was unavailable for comment. BlackBerry policy will be discussed again at the 23 May meeting of the committee. ®
Christopher Williams, 07 Apr 2006

Nvidia shows 'best quality' twin-tuner TV card

Nvidia has launched a PC add-in TV tuner card with two tuners, both of them ready to receive and record analogue broadcasts around the world. Nvidia has two versions: the NTSC-supporting part unveiled this week and a PAL/SECAM model.
Tony Smith, 07 Apr 2006

Which? finds low awareness of DTV

New figures show significant numbers of the British public are unaware the switchover to digital TV will be taking place. A survey by consumer watchdog, Which?, said four in ten Britons do not know that the analogue signal will be switched off sometime between 2008 and 2012. Also, only seven per cent of respondents knew what was happening in their area. Despite the UK being the world leader in digital TV take-up, with Ofcom announcing last month that around 70 per cent of UK households now have a compatible unit, Which? found that some 60 per cent of viewers though it was wrong that people were not given a choice. In fact, nearly one in ten respondents said they would rather give up television than be "coerced" into going digital. Nearly half of those surveyed did not realise they would need to buy a digital set-top box, Sky, or receive a cable service and 17 per cent said they would not be doing so. Which? thinks Digital UK, the body set up to raise consumer awareness of digital television, needs to act now to give viewers the information they need to make a smooth transition. Which.co.uk editor Malcolm Coles said: "We've found that awareness of the digital switchover is alarmingly low, especially when you consider the first region is due to be switched in just two years' time. People need information now so they can plan ahead. Digital UK needs to pull its finger out!" 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, 07 Apr 2006

BAE to flog Airbus stake

BAE systems is looking to offload its 20 per cent stake in European aircraft consortium Airbus for up to £3bn, the BBC reports. The move - prompted by a fall in profits in BAE's commercial aerospace division and a desire to focus on its burgeoning "core defence business" - will not affect the 13,000 Airbus workers in the UK, BAE confirmed. BAE chief executive Mike Turner said: "We believe that now is the right time for us to divest our Airbus shareholding to allow us to concentrate on our core transatlantic defence and aerospace strategy." Accordingly, BAE is in talks with Franco-German group EADS, which own the rest of Airbus. The company said: "Discussions are at an early stage and a further announcement will be made if and when appropriate." BAE's UK Airbus operation comprises two plants at Broughton in North Wales and Filton, Bristol, both dedicated to the design and production of aircraft wings. The former recently announced the creation of 650 new jobs, taking the total workforce to 6,650. The unions are, understandably, a little jittery at the announcement. The Amicus union's national officer, Ian Waddle, said: "We want to find out if production will remain in the UK or whether it will be shifted to countries where the new buyers are based." Airbus has now taken 159 orders for the forthcoming A380 - a key component in its battle for domination of the civil aviation skies. It has to date delivered 4,198 aircraft of all types from 6,376 total orders. Its turnover in 2,005 was around €22.3bn. ®
Lester Haines, 07 Apr 2006

AMD to focus on Turion brand for 65nm mobile CPUs?

Don't expect AMD to offer a 65nm Mobile Athlon 64 X2 processor. According to alleged Turion roadmap details, the dual-core Mobile Athlon 64s will only be fabricated using a 90nm process, for the foreseeable future at least. AMD's 65nm mobile parts are due Q1 2007.
Tony Smith, 07 Apr 2006
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Subversion v. Perforce. Collabnet replies

Having allowed Perforce to comment on Tim’s review of SCM tools, we have to extend the courtesy to CollabNet, his other victim, as well. Bas Nijjer, director of UK sales at CollabNet, points out that “the BerkleyDB database wedging problem noted by Tim has been addressed by Sleepycat and the enhancement will come with the next release of Subversion”. He also claims that “enterprises are turning to Subversion due to its focus on web deployment from design through implementation”. Well, the ones who like web deployment probably are; and Subversion's open source roots are probably attractive in some circles too.
David Norfolk, 07 Apr 2006

CRB opens the umbrella

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has launched a new database of bodies that can run checks. The move is part of an effort to reduce the number of organisations registered to run checks on potential employees through the CRB. Under the system organisations that become umbrellas are able to run checks for others that are not registered. A spokesperson told Government Computing News that about 14,000 bodies are currently registered and that the CRB wishes to reduce this in order to increase efficiency. According to CRB figures, about 10,000 registered bodies carry out less than 100 checks per year, and 4,000 have not submitted one over the past 12 months. Eighty nine per cent of all checks are carried out by 22 per cent of bodies. "Doing this was a key recommendation of the recent Bichard Inquiry and of the 2002 Independent Review," the spokesperson said. "The intention of setting a threshold is to make the registered body network one that is more manageable, more professional and more experienced in the disclosure process. "This will allow the CRB to assure itself and others that the network of users is proficient in the security and policies of the CRB." Following a consultation on the plan, the CRB does not expect widespread opposition from organisations that would be deregistered. "People knew it was coming," the spokesperson said. "We won't do anything quickly. It will be a gradual streamlining of the networks, likely to take about 18 months. "Looking at the response to the consultation it was very good. A lot of organisations see the benefits of the new system in making it more efficient." The CRB has expanded the amount of information on the umbrella organisations, and set up a new search facility to help organisations make an informed choice on which one they should choose. Each umbrella body now has a dedicated web page where they can market their services and provide potential customers with full contact details and information about: their organisation; their target markets e.g. educations, health care; the range of services they offer e.g. consultancy, on-line services, support and guidance; their fees; the geographical coverage of their service– e.g. whether they offer a national, regional or county based service. This article was originally published at Kablenet.
Kablenet, 07 Apr 2006
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BOFH: Headcase

Episode 13Episode 13 So the Boss wants to know what's been happening with the 'Foolproof Wireless Security' project that the auditors decided should be implemented - a project that's as deliverable as wireless UPS units. "Oh, we gave that to Steve," the PFY says when the Boss asks. "Steve?" "Yeah Steve, down the end of the corridor on the left." "Is someone IN that office? I thought it was just used for storage!" "I suppose you could call it that. But no, it's Steve's office." "What his position?" "uhhhhhmmmm...Special...Project Coordinator. I think." "And so why did you pass this job to him?" "Mainly because of his experience. He read the book on computer security." "You mean wrote the book." "No, no, read. Well, when I say read, I really mean looked at the pictures." "So you're saying this guy isn't much of a technical person?" "Not really - but he has worked for us for years." "But you're saying he's not technical?" "Well, he used to be. Only problem was that back in the old days he used to drink the isopropyl alcohol. Then when we switched to clear methylated spirits - to cut costs - without telling him..." "What?" "The wheels fell off a bit..." "So he's useless?" "Well, technically it's classed as a workplace accident and so as long as he manages to turn up to work the Union won't let us fire him. And besides, he's showing massive signs of improvement." "And by massive you mean?" "Well, he can see now." "But apart from that he's all there mentally?" "Wellllll...if you were to compare him to a deck of cards..." "Yes?" "He might have enough for a game of Go Fish." "Against himself," the PFY adds. "And so he just sits in an office all day doing nothing?" "In his office or out in the garden," the PFY says. "The garden?" "With the other vegetables," the PFY adds unkindly. "So why the hell did you give him the wireless security project?" "Easy. There's always going to be wireless security problems because you can't control physical access to the medium. If it's not 'hackerz' it'll be some denial-of-service thing that you just can't fix. And, of course, you have to ramp up the risk factor of either scenario by being in the middle of a ginormous city full of geeks with nothing better to do with their time than cruise around with laptops and directional antennas." "So what are you saying?" "Everyone involved in this project is doomed to failure. The only way to mitigate the risk is to hand it to someone else to get blamed. We hand it to Steve, it turns to custard, he gets blamed." "Isn't that a little...cowardly?" "Yes," I reply without hesitation. "And you're not concerned about that? You don't feel a little twinge of responsibility?" "Not at all. Were it you, I or the PFY and something went catastrophically wrong, we'd be gone faster than a supermodel's lunch in a public toilet - but Steve's as safe as houses. They'll never fire him - not so long as he keeps turning up." "So all we need to do is just write some documentation and get him to sign it off?" "A crayoned X usually suffices, but yes." "And you're sure this will work?" "As sure as I am about who was responsible for the Smart-ID card fiasco." "And don't forget the Paperless Office project," the PFY adds. "Didn't people...complain?" "About Steve? Never! He's like a company mascot. Besides, the term 'Special Projects' is a corporate dumping ground." "What do you mean?" "Who do you think signed off on the new company logo which ended up being a little too near to a certain competitors, causing an expensive legal action?" I ask. "Steve?" the Boss gasps. "Yes," the PFY replies. "And every time Manchester bids for a sporting event who do you think it is that submits a memo on company letterhead to the selection committee to show how they're all a bunch of inbred, lard eating hermaphrodites?" "What, he writes that?" "Well, he colours in the borders and puts an X at the bottom." "So someone else writes the memo?" the Boss says, shocked. "Does someone not like Manchester?" "No one likes Manchester," the PFY says. "Why not?" "I think it's probably the lard eating mostly." "And he's still working here?" "They're more likely to put Lassie down on live TV!" "So how do I get a progress report on this?" "Just write a quick blurb saying everything's going along well and that you need another couple of thousand for.. >flip< >flip< Reflected Infrastructure Impedance...Measurement" "But the project will go over budget!" "Of course it'll go over budget! All projects go over budget, so if this one doesn't it'll ring alarm bells!" "I see...And the budget gets allocated..." "To us. For incidental expenses," the PFY says, shutting his new Plasma TV catalogue. "I...don't think that's a good use of comp..." "Or you could just fess up and say that this is the first occasion you've bothered checking on the project in months and it's not even started..." "So I just get Steve to sign down the bottom in crayon then?" the Boss says, slinking out to write his memo. "You realise he's going to go back through the paperwork and find that we spent the cash on a new tape stacker?" the PFY asks. "Well, he could - but bear in mind we lost all those documents in the fire which started in the tape safe room because Steve was looking after the fire suppression extension project." "Really, when was that?" "About 10 minutes after he signs the memo I'm about to write..." BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Simon Travaglia, 07 Apr 2006

Thinking in Java, new 4th Ed.

Book reviewBook review The trophy cabinet full of awards and prizes that Bruce Eckel has won for his ‘Thinking in Java’ attests to its classic status. And, despite it having been available as a free download, it’s also been a perennial best seller. Now, with the release of a new, fourth, edition, does the book still warrant the accolades? And does it remain one of the key titles to recommend to new Java programmers?
Dr Pan Pantziarka, 07 Apr 2006

Aussie PM airs Telstra sale doubts

The Australian Government is not prepared to flog its 51.8 per cent stake in incumbent telco Telstra if the price isn't right, according to Aussie PM John Howard. Telstra's share price has been under pressure lately over uncertainty about the future of the telco and regulatory concerns. These doubts have led some onlookers to question whether the Government should proceed with its sale plans. Speaking yesterday, Howard said the Government wouldn't sell its slice of the telco at any price. "We're not in the business of selling at any cost...just for the sake of getting it off our books," Howard told ABC Radio. "That would not be sensible." Instead, he went on to say that the government would sell "at the time and in a manner that's best calculated to help the company and help the shareholders". Last autumn the Australian Senate backed plans to flog the Government's stake in the business despite a concerted campaign by opposition MPs and trade unions. A final decision as to whether the Government proceeds with the A$24bn (£10bn) sale is expected within the next couple of months. ®
Team Register, 07 Apr 2006

Acer unveils world's second HD DVD laptop

Acer yesterday announced the second notebook to support HD DVD, following the lead set by Toshiba, the next-generation optical disc format's chief cheerleader, and as predicted. But don't expect it to ship with such a drive immediately - the first models may only ship with DVD drives.
Tony Smith, 07 Apr 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Critical IE fix due Tuesday

Microsoft has confirmed it plans to release a fix for a serious security bug in Internet Explorer next Tuesday (11 April). The fix for the "CreateTextRange" vulnerability - which has become the subject of hacker exploits over recent days - will be released as a cumulative update to Internet Explorer along with four other security bulletins (details here). Late last month, numerous maliciously constructed websites began attempting to exploit the "CreateTextRange" vulnerability to install Trojans, botnet clients and other forms on malware on victim PCs. This malicious activity, together with the lack of an immediate fix from Microsoft, prompted two security firms (Determina and eEye Digital Security) to each issue standalone patches to mitigate the risk of attack. Microsoft advised orgainsations to disable Active Scripting as a workaround. Internet Explorer has become the subject of a number of unpatched vulnerabilities over recent weeks. In the latest such incident, security notification firm Secunia warned this week of an unpatched flaw in IE that might be used to spoof the address bar in a browser. Because of this behaviour, the bug might be used to make phishing attacks more convincing. ®
John Leyden, 07 Apr 2006

Acer touts 'super 3G' notebook duo

Acer has re-iterated its plan to bundle Vodafone-branded 'super 3G' HSDPA data cards with a pair of upcoming notebook PCs, pledging to introduce TravelMate and Aspire laptops with the cards in the coming months.
Tony Smith, 07 Apr 2006

Gmail in emergency lightning response shocker

We can all sleep sounder in our beds, safe in the knowledge that Gmail will - if required - move with panther-like speed to tackle any possible threat to national security. The proof? We've just had a gem from an anonymous Gmail user who was "trying to contact Gmail regarding fraud" only to get bogged down in a "nightmare of switch boards and receptionists unwilling to help". In the process, however, he stumbled across "Google's fantastic automated messages at +1 650 253 3422". In the "requiring access to a Gmail account that is not yours" bit, he was informed: "If it is an emergency and you require the intervention of law enforcement, including bomb threats and suicide attempts, you simply have to report through the normal security form with the words 'URGENT' in it." And the response to such a vital missive? As our correspondent puts it: "Well it's now the next day after my urgent request went through...I'm sure several buildings have been blown up by suicidally depressed people in the meantime..." Quite so. Simpsons fans will be reminded of the episode where Bart is trying to urgently contact Springfield police department by phone, and is asked by a pre-recorded message to select the crime in question. He hits a few random numbers and gets: "You have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one..." ®
Lester Haines, 07 Apr 2006

Asus unveils Dolby-driven laptops

Asus this week lauded its latest laptops' successful attempt to win the thumbs-up from audio specialist Dolby. Announcing two new machines, Asus said one comes with the Dolby Home Theater stamp of approval, while the other ships with "gameplay transforming" Dolby Digital Live technology.
Tony Smith, 07 Apr 2006
arrow pointing up

German Postbank uses e-signatures to curb phishing

German bank Postbank is going to introduce electronic signatures to all email correspondence with its customers in an attempt to curb phishing. By clicking on the symbol in the email, customers can see whether the e-signature is valid. Last year, the bank introduced a new transaction number system (iTAN) to protect customers from online phishing attacks. Postbank, one of the largest banks in Germany with 12m customers, suffered several phishing attacks in the past from what are believed to be internationally organised criminal groups. In addition, Trojans were installed that became active every time a Postbank customer established a network connection. This allowed the perpetrators to block the passing on of TAN numbers to the bank. According to a survey by Germany's TNS Infratest, 80 per cent of online banking customers say they wouldn't recognise a phishing email. In December 2004, German police arrested five suspects who successfully targeted Postbank account holders. Earlier this week another phishing gang was nabbed by the Federal Crime Investigation Office, Germany's answer to the FBI. Seven men, aged between 21 and 47, planned to transfer the proceeds of their phishing scams to Eastern European bank accounts. ®
Jan Libbenga, 07 Apr 2006

Linguists have more white matter: official

Neuroscientists at University College London reckon they may have pinpointed the reason some people have an aptitude for languages, and apparently it's all about more "white brain matter" where it counts - packed into the area in which sound is processed. The team took 59 French speakers and subjected them to two combinations of "d" plus "a" - one from their own lingo where the "d" is dental (tongue placed against top teeth) and a retroflex alternative from Hindi, where the tongue curls upwards towards the roof of the mouth. The difference in the two "das" is, the BBC notes, in the first 40 milliseconds, so you have to be pretty quick off the mark (try* the "spot-the-difference" here, which has some mp3s of the two). During the test, those who could quickly differentiate the two sounds were moved on "even more acoustically similar" challenges. The fastest guns "were able to tell these apart within a few minutes, while the slowest learners were only able to make random guesses at the less difficult stage after 20 minutes of training". This disparity is explained, says the team, by more white brain matter "in the left auditory region known as Heschl's gyrus, where sound is processed" - as brain scans of the linguistically-gifted showed. White brain matter fibres play a role in connecting bits of your brain together, and more of it might indicate "more or perhaps thicker fibres" and an "increased ability to process sound", according to Dr Narly Golestani from UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Specifically, Golestani said white brain matter was involved in the "efficient processing of sound information into the lower levels of the brain - known as the primary cortex." There's more: the researchers also found - among the fast learners - a "greater asymmetry in the volume of the parietal lobes, which are also involved in the processing of speech sound in the left hemisphere of the brain". Those of you with loads of white matter and an asymmetrical brain will doubtless have taken all that in and it just remains for us to add a final bit from Golestani, who concluded: "The bigger picture is that we are starting to understand that brain shape and structure can be informative about people's abilities or pathologies - why people are good at some things and not others is evident from these scans. "We can start to make predictions regarding whether people will be good at something or not based on their brain structure, or diagnose clinical problems." The results of the study - entitled "Brain structure predicts the learning of foreign speech sounds" - can be found in the journal Cerebral Cortex.® Bootnote * We gave it a go and couldn't discern the slightest bloody difference between the two. We have therefore concluded that we have beautifully symmetrical brains - as God intended - packed with grey matter and without wasting space on white stuff which serves only to tell the difference between Hindi and French.
Lester Haines, 07 Apr 2006

Is VoIP ready for business?

Voice communications delivered using IP (VoIP) networks is currently something of a phenomenon. The use of VoIP is rapidly becoming almost as common an occurrence as accessing the internet. This trend, which originally started with individuals employing the technology to communicate without incurring telephone charges, is now spreading into mainstream business use. However, some IT professionals are expressing concerns over the use of VoIP in business environments. According to the results of a recent survey, nearly one in two networking professionals have concerns about the general reliability and robustness of VoIP. The survey of 150 UK-based professionals was conducted on behalf of Network Instruments, a supplier of network analysis and monitoring solutions, and the results are intriguing. Of those taking part, 62 per cent have either implemented VoIP solutions in their organisations or plan so to do within the next year. However, 48 per cent expressed concerns over the robustness and reliability of VoIP as a technology for serious business use. Several specific issues were highlighted, many focusing on the fact that VoIP, unlike many other applications running on the IP infrastructure, can be especially sensitive to packet loss, jitter and, most particularly, any 'excessive' delay in transmission of data. Thus, of the networking staff questioned, over half were concerned about measuring the quality of service associated with VoIP while one-third believe their companies are lacking in tools to monitor VoIP functionality. These concerns are fully justified. There is no doubt that as VoIP usage increases IT departments will once again find themselves in a position where the monitoring and active management of network traffic will again come to the fore. About 10 years ago, many organisations expended considerable effort managing the flow of traffic over their voice and IT networks. As bandwidth increased and computer networks became more robust and reliable, the active effort taken to monitor and manage network services tailed off. VoIP and future network-sensitive, and potentially bandwidth hungry, applications are almost certain to again make active network management an essential component of IT daily life. This is an area where it is clear that organisations and IT professionals need to learn about the capabilities now available in various VoIP management technologies. Various vendors, including, unsurprisingly, Network Instruments, can supply IT administrators with analytic tools capable of monitoring the technical aspects of VoIP traffic and provide information in a format with which IT professionals will be comfortable, rather than in the language of telecommunications engineers. The more sophisticated tools can also help diagnose problems and provide a variety of VoIP service 'quality' metrics. As VoIP takes an ever stronger hold in business, both as formal business sanctioned infrastructure and with casual personal usage, it will be essential that service quality is managed proactively lest it become a burden on both IT and the business itself. VoIP has massive potential, but it will demand adequate monitoring and administration. Tools to help ease the management workload will be required and/or the administration of VoIP will be devolved to a managed service provider. VoIP has great potential business benefits, particularly in terms of enabling greater business flexibility but it cannot run itself. On a final note, it is also interesting to note that the Network Instruments' survey also found that 29 per cent of those questioned had worries concerning the monitoring of call data. The survey alas did not distinguish whether these call monitoring concerns arose from a call security or call administration/resource consumption/chargeback basis. The security of VoIP systems can be an issue, but is addressable when VoIP is brought into governance considerations. VoIP is here to stay for the foreseeable future; are you ready? Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com
Tony Lock, 07 Apr 2006

Napster subscribers up, losses down

Napster will post a smaller loss for its fourth fiscal quarter than it previously forecast. The reason? Greater-than-expected subscriber growth has taken numbers paying for its music rental service to over 600,000.
Tony Smith, 07 Apr 2006
globalisation

Warning over rogue anti-spyware app

A rogue anti-spyware application is falsely identifying popular security products and file system tools as spyware. Security firm SurfControl advises users not to touch the application, UnSpyPC, with a barge pole.
John Leyden, 07 Apr 2006

Podstar preps fiendish iPod Nano case

We're not sure how practical these iPod Nano cases are, but with their horns and forked tail, we're sure they'll appeal to music fans whose tastes tend toward the diabolic. At least the "high grade" silicone shell undertakes the saintly task of keeping your digital music player unstained and unscratched.
Tony Smith, 07 Apr 2006

Three-way targets cellphone parts market

TI, NEC and Matsushita are in talks about pooling their plans for W-CDMA 3G phone chips. According to Reuters, Matsushita, which owns the Panasonic brand, and NEC confirmed the talks today. The trio aims to get a factory building the parts up and running as early as the summer according to reports. The three will also collaborate on software. TI yesterday sponsored a panel discussion at CTIA in Las Vegas identifying the growth markets for cellphones in coming years. The key groups, the firm said, were emerging markets where traditional wire comms were limited. The second key group is what the firm dubbed generation Y (awn?), which consists of those aged between five and 20, who, according to TI, have never know a world without cellphones. TI boss Rich Templeton told the conference that "No doubt, traditional boundaries no longer exist in wireless, and we are experiencing an exciting collaboration among leaders from inside and outside this industry who are working together to deliver mobile applications and services that truly capture the lifestyles and imaginations of tomorrow's consumer." Whatever could he mean by that?®
Team Register, 07 Apr 2006

Sky HD is here

Geek TVGeek TV Get your Sky HD here Deck your telly in bunting: Sky has finally announced a date for its high definition service. You can start snapping up HD Sky+ boxes and subscriptions next Wednesday (12 April), though you'll have to wait a few weeks for installation. Meanwhile, you might want to amuse yourself by selling all your old Deep Space 9 DVDs – because the HD service doesn't come cheap. The 160GB box (what happened to the rumoured 300GB one?) costs £299, and they also want £10 a month for an HD subscription - that's on top of your usual Sky digital subs. Oh, and you'll need to have an HD-ready telly. If you can stretch to that, you’ll be able to watch Sky One HD, Artsworld HD, National Geographic HD, and Discovery HD, the channel where you can almost taste every hair on that meerkat's face. You also get access to pay-per-view Sky Box Office HD. For Sky Sports and Movies HD, you'll need to be subscribing to the regular Sky Sports or Movies channels. Find out more and book an installation at Sky's website. Another TV titan that's going futuristic is Blue Peter, which has ditched the sticky-backed stuff for another kind of plastic: swipe cards. This Orwellian move is to stop all those pesky kids getting into Madame Tussaud's for free with Blue Peter badges they've bought off eBay. Rather than get a badge, Blue Peter's favourite viewers will now be rewarded with an ID card for swots. I was upset when the eBay badge story broke. Not because of the badge-sellers’ enterprising spirit, but because I've got a Blue Peter badge, and they never told me I could get into things free. I just thought it was a nice thing to have. Just think,with all the cash I’d have saved, I might even have been able to afford Sky HD. Five to watch this week: Doctor Who Weekend, UKTV Gold, Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 April, 11am-6pm A week ahead of the new series, UKTV Gold wants you to stay indoors, close the curtains and immerse yourself in Eccleston-flavoured Who. Best time to catch the new trailers, by the way, is about 7pm on BBC1. Hypnosurgery Live, More4, Monday 10 April, 9pm Is hypnosis as good as novocaine? One poor soul gets to find out when he has a hernia operation live on More4 – and the only anaesthetic is a bloke swinging his pocket watch. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Five, Tuesday 11 April, 9pm A splendid episode, in which Grissom and co find the body of a man with a form of hirsutism so extreme that he looks like Teenwolf. Silver bullet? Stardate: Mysteries of Venus, BBC2, Wednesday 12 April, 7pm and 11.50pm The Venus Express spacecraft has long been trundling towards our neighbouring planet, and it’s due to arrive during this programme. Adam Hart-Davies and inexplicably ubiquitous Myleene Klass host the countdown. Forensic Detectives, Discovery, Wednesday 12 April, 11pm A look at how such technological advances as DNA testing and fibre analysis are helping criminologists catch the crims.
Jane Hoskyn, 07 Apr 2006

New site launched for disconnected Wanadoo punters

Wanadoo punters in the UK who've lost their broadband connection after being migrated to the ISP's LLU platform are being urged to air their problems on a new online forum. Wanadoo Problems has been set up by fed-up Wanadoo punter Kevin Ellis, who has been without broadband now for eight weeks. As well as paying for a service he cannot use, he's also spent around £35 on calls to Wanadoo's helpline to try and resolve his problem. Instead, London-based Kevin has been given the runaround by Wanadoo staff who have told him to uninstall and reinstall kit in the hope that might fix the problem. They've also carried out numerous line checks and also blamed BT for his problems. Despite all this, Kevin is still without broadband. "I despair with them," he told The Register. "I've been told one thing and then another. They're not helping customers in the slightest. It's cost me a fortune in calls to support. "Each time I phone up I have to explain the whole story over and over again. Wanadoo's staff never read my notes - either that or they can't be bothered to. "I've been eight weeks without broadband and told to wait another three weeks. We just don't know how big this problem is. I'm still paying for the service each month and get nothing. I'm told I'll get compensation, but when? I want my broadband connection. "That's why I set up the site - to highlight the problem. I want Wanadoo to sit up and take notice. I want people to post their stories on the forum to put pressure on Wanadoo to so something." Kevin's story is not unique. In February The Register reported how a Wanadoo punter from Manchester had been left without broadband after his line was migrated to Wanadoo's local loop unbundling (LLU) platform. The upgrade is part of Wanadoo's investment in local loop unbundling (LLU) enabling it to offer increased speeds to users up to eight meg. After almost three months, Wanadoo has finally reconnected that broadband user, so we're told. But he is not alone. Ever since El Reg highlighted the problem two months ago, we've received a steady stream of emails from Wanadoo users who've lost their broadband connection and failed to get any sense from Wanadoo's customer support. Like this one, whose service fell over at the end of January following Wanadoo's attempted LLU upgrade: "Since then,- I've made at least 40 calls and spent at least 20 hours being given conflicting stories," he told us. "At first they [Wanadoo customer support] blamed my PC, then software conflicts, then Windows. I ended up removing and reinstalling the modem about 10 times. "What's more, because of LLU and the outstanding tech problem, I can't switch ISP's without taking about 10 days to completely cancel my account, losing email addresses etc, then another 10 days or so to get service from another provider. Wanadoo tell me they will not remove the LLU to give me a migration code while there is an outstanding fault. If I can't get a migration code I have a minimum further break of service of 20 days." And this one: "I was apparently migrated to LLU at the beginning of February and I have not had a broadband connection from Wanadoo since. I struggled to make contact with them, they were very reluctant initially to acknowledge the problem, but even now that they have they are unable to give me any idea when I will be reconnected - HELP!" For its part, Wanadoo claims it has "successfully migrated tens of thousands of customers to the new Wanadoo network", but admits that "only a very small number of customers have experienced any problems". And the ISP maintains that it is "fully equipped to deal with these [problems]" and is working with its suppliers to "resolve any problems as soon as they are brought to our attention". That may be so. Clearly Kevin Ellis and the people who are beginning to post their experiences on the Wanadoo Problem website don't agree. ®
Tim Richardson, 07 Apr 2006

How much is that Apple in the Windows?

CommentComment As everyone knows, I'm a great fan of Apple Computer. In fact, while running the Texas internal consulting office at Schlumberger in 1984, I bought and evaluated one of the first Apple Macs and was blown away by its power and simplicity. Instead of buying my own Mac at that time, I bought Apple stock, the value of which quickly rose to pay for my own Mac. So armed, and with the passion of a zealot, I preached the Mac's advantage, spurring their adoption in Schlumberger and later Shell. In both companies, Mac adopters battled policy, and the machines invaded small corporate pockets like design and engineering, where they often remain today. Then I moved to Costain as chief technology officer, which had fully adopted Windows. Poacher turned gamekeeper! My preaching gave way to economic and practical necessity - there was just no compelling (economic or otherwise) reason to disrupt Windows as the corporate standard - essentially a sensible decision and sound investment policy. This was especially the case as Apple had become marginalised. Not just in market share, but the technology itself. Years of in-company squabbling and management change had undermined the Mac's technology advantage - innovators at Apple were replaced by corporate wonks, and the once enjoyed leadership eroded as these same wonks sat on their hands. By 1995, Windows had matched the original Mac OS features, and Windows PC prices were markedly lower than those of Apple's. When I joined Digital Equipment as the Services business CIO, I pushed the Microsoft message with almost the same passion as I did Apple's 1984 Mac. I quickly moved Digital's service business into beta programs of Exchange (Microsoft's email solution) and Windows 95, with such success that I appeared on stage at the Boston World Trade Centre launch. I counted my success at Digital in terms of displacement of its own email (All-In-One) systems, the penetration of Windows 95 in my part of the business, and the development of a Digital/Microsoft partnership, which my activities strongly influenced. I also got a kick out of the internal hate mail I received from the folks accusing me of technological heresy. Fast forward to Wang where, as CIO and CTO, and still in the role of Defender of the Microsoft Faith, I noticed the emerging new Apple operating system - OS X. Sitting in a local computer shop, I had a repeat of my 1984 Apple Damascus moment. The elegance and simplicity of what OS X did was mindblowing. I bought an iBook and, with hundreds of thousands of others, rode with Apple to OS X's full realisation. And as Apple wove its capability with those of Windows, I started to use my Mac more and more for work. Strange, given that economic logic and practicality meant I still had to ride shotgun over a corporate Windows-only policy. But I owned the IT organisation, so got a pass. Now, I advise companies on technology, and yesterday Apple just announced a capability to run Windows on its Intel based new computer models - one of which, being technology self indulgent, I have. So will I add this free Windows capability to my Mac Book Pro? No, because I no longer use anything that needs Windows as, over the years, Apple has done such a great job convincing most main software companies to successfully write their products for the OS X to take advantage of its cool features. Would I advise a wholesale corporate move to Apple - No again. Few companies can fund a major technology switch, without a significant economic business case. And, truth be told, most corporate folks will continue to do just fine with Windows - hey, email, the typical Microsoft Office suite applications and the odd business system's really don't benefit from change. Even if they did a bit, people don't want change. After 20 plus years of enforced technology firedrills they've become highly sceptical of technologists' promises of a better life, and rightly don't believe the endless theoretical business cases technologists dream up. Those ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) battles that have raged since the late 1990s have left many of the folks who do the real work in companies, forever scarred. Talk about the thousand yard stare - visit an business accounting office after an implementation of SAP! So what to do. Well, my advice would be to actually give people the choice. There are unlikely to be support issues, especially with Apple's long-term commitment to support dual Windows and Mac OS. And few extra cost issues. I think we are on the cusp of businesses allowing folks to buy and own their own business PCs and funding them through the expense system. The new Apple world is the perfect reason to accommodate this, and gradually take companies out of PC ownership. You own your own calculator and mobile phone - PC ownership is a natural evolution. And the timing is perfect, especially as Microsoft will be pushing a wholesale move to its much delayed and maligned Windows Vista. Just the thought of which makes me feel a thousand yard stare coming on! ® About Cormac O'Reilly: Late sixties IT industry entrant with early developer gigs in London at Abbey National, Unilever & BOC. Senior IT oil field trash in the eighties and nineties; Schlumberger (Houston TX) and Shell (The Hague). Board IT big-wig at Costain (London) before CIO/CTO at Digital and Wang Global/ Getronics (Boston). Non-exec director at two flame-out dot.coms; now spending ill-gotten gains and being provocative in Newburyport, MA.
Cormac O'Reilly, 07 Apr 2006

Subs up at RIM

Signups to Research in Motion’s data service hit 625,000 in its fourth quarter as the handheld vendors’ patent problems straightened themselves out. The firm expects subscriber additions to rise further in the current quarter, it added, as it released its latest results yesterday. Revenues for the quarter ending 4 March came in at $561.2m, up 39 per cent on the year. Profits were $18.4m, compared with last year’s $2.6m loss. This year’s profits included a settlement and litigation provision of $162.5m. The firm settled its long-running patent suit with NTP in the quarter. At one point, it looked as if it might have to pull its service in the US. The lifting of this threat helped boost subscriber additions to 625,000 it said. Things should pick up further in the first quarter with additions jumping to 675,000. First quarter revenues should be $580m to $610m, with GAAP earnings per share of $0.60 to $0.65. Full year revenues were up 53 per cent to $2.07bn, while profits were $382m, compared to $213m the previous year. ®
Team Register, 07 Apr 2006

Europeans in .eu landrush frenzy

The European Commission has expressed its satisfaction with the take-up for the newly-released .eu TLD, Reuters reports. In the first hour of availability this morning, 300,000 people moved in to secure their piece of the action, according to Commissioner for Information and Society Viviane Reding. "The demand of European citizens and companies will show whether they believe in Europe," she said. According to the BBC, the league table of Euro-patriotism at lunchtime was headed by the Brits, with 172,765 registrants. Germany was second with 144,271 while the Dutch made a brave show of flying the flag with 102,162. The domain has been available since last December to charitable organisations and trademark holders. In February, those with "other claims" were given their chance. Now, however, any Tom, Dick or Harry can get his grubby mitts on a .eu, and its registrar EURid reckons the final number of companies and organisations taking the opportunity will reach 240,000 by the end of the year (this figure presumably does not include individuals, if our maths is right). Although the .eu landrush has proved mildly exciting - compared with watching paint dry - those of you who were expecting a vicious feeding frenzy where rivals beat each other with iron bars for control of desirable .eu domains will just have to make do with the BBC's note that "www.polo.eu domain was applied for by car maker Volkswagen, fashion house Ralph Lauren and sweet maker Nestle". For the record, Volkswagen eventually secured the prize on the basis of first-come-first-served. The only bit of real kerfuffle is over www.sex.eu. No less than 280 hopefuls have expressed an interest, 200 staking their claims on the same day. The matter could take some time to resolve, the BBC notes. Which just begs the question: what sort of pandemonium would have broken out over www.sex.xxx, had ICANN not canned the proposed smut TLD? Phwooooar! ®
Lester Haines, 07 Apr 2006
For Sale sign detail

Sun sends SPARC team members packing

Sun Microsystems has laid off seven per cent of its SPARC processor and server group, as it pares back projects in an effort to save costs. Most of the workers were officially notified of the cuts yesterday, and word of the layoffs did not come as a surprise. Sun had a large number of SPARC research and development projects underway, as it looked for ways to complement its UltraSPARC T1 line and upcoming Rock family of processors. Many staffers suspected their projects might be cancelled, according to sources, and have long been shopping for new jobs. As we reported in an exclusive last month, one of these projects was code-named Jupiter, which was meant to serve as a networking and security co-processor for Rock chips. The Jupiter project has been cancelled, and the team laid off this week, sources told El Reg. Sun, however, characterized any roadmap changes as insignificant. "The Scalable Systems Group management team worked hard to minimize the number of terminations by closing open requisitions, re-allocating resources and increasing organizational efficiency where possible," Sun said in a statement. "Unfortunately the effort has resulted in notifications to some of SSG's employees - approximately 200. "Sun's overall strategy remains the same and our product roadmap is as strong as it has ever been with no significant changes." Sun has long been reluctant to trim payrolls despite Wall Street's constant urging to do so. The company has hovered just below the break even point for a few quarters. Layoffs could help kick it into the black. Not too long ago, Sun executives bragged that they would hire any gifted chip engineers on the market. Such braggadocio seems to have faded with Opteron taking on more importance for Sun's future plans. Sun currently shares SPARC costs with Fujitsu. Our sources indicate that Sun has decided to center its resources around the core UltraSPARC T1 and Rock offerings rather than push money and people onto fringe products as well. ®
Ashlee Vance, 07 Apr 2006

Sun zinged by rent-a-quote analyst

Imagine our surprise when The Economist - possibly the most respected magazine on the planet by business types - closed out an evisceration of Sun Microsystems by turning to a consultant who gets paid by most of Sun's major competitors. In a piece entitled "Still changing the subject" in the current edition of magazine, we learn - "All the changes Mr McNealy has made since 2002 have been attempts to convince customers that buying gadgets from Sun was no longer an all-or-nothing proposition," The Economist wrote. "But too many customers have become used to listening to and doing business with Dell, HP and IBM instead. Rob Enderle, who runs an eponymous technology consultancy, says that Sun is 'like a soccer team that suddenly shows up in the Super Bowl against an [American] football team.'" Enderle, you see, serves on the advisory councils of IBM, HP and Dell, among others. This information is not disclosed in the article, which gives the misleading impression that Enderle is an an objective and impartial source. Enderle no longer even works as an analyst, although he still gets billed as being one. He's a consultant for the Enderle Group. You can find out more here. The Economist tends to do a fine job covering technology and raises some very valid points about Sun in its story. We, however, wonder how quoting a paid consultant who works for Sun's competitors to deliver a pot shot fits into the magazine's objective agenda. The magazine isn't alone in this type of practice. The technology press has proven reluctant to hold analysts to the same standards demanded by the financial press when quoting financial analysts. Analyst houses such as IDC and Gartner refuse to disclose their customers, and tech reporters, for the most part, help by not insisting the analyst firms be more forthcoming.®
Ashlee Vance, 07 Apr 2006