18th > April > 2006 Archive

Symantec inherits $1bn tax bill from Veritas

Symantec's purchase of Veritas could end up being much pricier than first imagined if the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has anything to say about it. The IRS has slapped Symantec with a $900m tax bill to cover allegedly insufficient payments made by Veritas in 2000 and 2001. Symantec received word of the problem from the IRS on March 29 and revealed the matter today in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The $900m covers additional taxes, plus interest and penalties calculated during an audit of Veritas' books. A separate and unrelated audit of Symantec turned up a $100m incremental tax liability for the years 2003 and 2004, the company said. Symantec disagrees with the IRS findings and plans to fight both penalties. "The company strongly believes the IRS positions with regard to these matters are inconsistent with applicable tax laws and existing Treasury regulations, and that its previously reported income tax provision for the years in question is appropriate," the company said in the SEC filing. A couple of historical points don't really go in Veritas' favor here. For one, Veritas had to restate its financial results from 2000 - 2003 due to accounting errors turned up during an SEC investigation. And then, there was Veritas' former CFO Kenneth Lonchar who was canned in 2002 for lying on his resume. Not the cleanest bill of health. Thankfully, Veritas has long specialized in data backup and recovery, so Symantec will have all the documents needed to prove its case on hand. ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Apr 2006

Wales and Sanger on Wikipedia

What do you think of Wikipedia today? Time to hear it from Wikipedia's co-founders, Jimmy 'Jimbo' Wales and Larry Sanger. Or depending on which part of Wikipedia you choose to believe, Wikipedia's founder and ... well, some other guy.
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Apr 2006

UK car tracking database delayed to boost capacity

The police have delayed crank starting their national car tracking database so they can keep more data about more people for longer periods of time. Meanwhile, bleeding edge top coppers in West Yorkshire are working out how to arm bobbies on the beat with links to their local auto number plate recognition (ANPR) system. They want bobbies to have savvy intelligence that can tell law abiding citizens from rule breakers at their fingertips. By now the national system, which grew out of an existing MI5 ANPR camera network, should have been clocking 35m registration plates a day with cameras placed on roadsides in town centres and major roads throughout the country. Yet the national centre is a mess of wires while police techies boost the system's capacity to 50m spooks a day. The national ANPR database was due to be fired up in March but will not see life now till mid-summer because the original blue print has been extended, said John Dean, National ANPR co-ordinator for the Association of Chief Police Officers. The central database will also keep details of peoples' car journeys for five years, said Dean. A limit of two years will apply only to data kept by regional forces. Police ANPR records, which note who's gone where in their car, have caused concern on both sides of the surveillance cameras. Deputy Information Commissioner Jonathan Bamford is rewriting the CCTV code of practice to account for the bells and whistles that computers have added to Britain's network of surveillance cameras. The CCTV user group, which represents local authorities and other proponents of surveillance such as shopping centres, has also begun to feel out of its depth. Peter Fry, director of the CCTV User group said he was "concerned" about the links being created between town centre CCTV systems and ANPR systems, both of which are often operated by the police. "Retaining images is fair enough if someone has committed a crime, but if not its an issue of how long the images should be kept," said Fry. ACPO has also consulted the Information Commissioner, Britain's privacy guardian, and come up with a set of rules to restrict the use of the data collected by ANPR cameras. However, it appears the restraints on police use of ANPR data have been dictated by pragmatism rather than a concern for civil liberties. Giving every bobby free access to the system would overload the system, "make it unstable, slow it down", said Dean. With 50m clocks a day, over 18 billion ANPR records would be snatched every year. Queries of such a database might prove demanding if they were not managed properly. ANPR records younger than 91 days would "probably" therefore be available only to police analysts, said Dean. Anyone accessing older journey records will have to seek the signed authorisation of a police superintendent. Data between two and five years old would only be available to sleuths with permission from a chief officer, "and only for the utmost serious crime or terrorism." Audit trails would also record every query that was made. Nevertheless, the West Yorkshire police force, which last month gave beat bobbies handheld computers with links to intelligence databases, is trying to add its ANPR database into the mix. Paul Friday, director of information systems at West Yorkshire Police, said he had asked RIM, maker of the Blackberry handheld computer given to his coppers, about the technicalities of an ANPR link. The police have most streets of Bradford covered by ANPR cameras, while Leeds is being wired. "Once that's stable we'll look at taking it onto BlackBerry," said Friday.®
Mark Ballard, 18 Apr 2006

Apple accused of patent infringement

Apple has been accused of using another company's technology without permission. The Mac maker was this week accused of violating the intellectual property rights of Burst.com, which maintains Apple has infringed four patents relating to music and video downloads on demand.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2006
homeless man with sign

Microsoft’s purchase of ProClarity – the bigger picture

CommentComment There’s a large and obvious hole in Microsoft’s line-up of functionality in SQL Server 2005: Analysis Services is a solid multi-dimensional database engine but Microsoft offers no means of graphically displaying the data it handles. The need for such tools increases hugely when dealing with multi-dimensional data: users are perfectly at home with 2-D views offered by bar charts and graphs, but visualising data in three and more dimensions becomes increasingly difficult and requires specialised software. Until now, users have had to look to third party offerings for visualisation tools. There’s been a rumour floating round for several years that Microsoft would have liked to buy ProClarity in order to plug this gap but, as a Microsoft insider pointed out, when dealing with a privately-owned company such as ProClarity, wanting to buy is not enough; the will to sell is also required. The counter rumour has always been that Bob Lokken, founder, President and CEO was having too much fun running the company to want to sell it. However the pressure to sell (or the financial incentive) eventually proved overwhelming: Microsoft recently announced that it is to buy ProClarity Corp., though the deal still has to go through process. Where does this leave the competition? Experience in the software industry suggests that the standard operating procedure for competitors who haven’t been bought out is to run round like headless chickens before imploding. Panorama and Temtec might be expected to behave so - but both companies look smarter than this. They can listen to the rumour mill just as well as the rest of us. That may well have encouraged them to turn their thoughts to their survival if/when ProClarity became the chosen one. Panorama has focused, amongst other things, on developing a very high performance middle-tier engine (NovaView Intelligence Server) which is capable of supporting more than a thousand simultaneous users. The company has also been actively diversifying its user base, recently gaining certification for integration into the SAP Enterprise Portal and is currently pursing certification for SAP NetWeaver (see press release here). Incidentally, Panorama has itself already survived being bought by Microsoft: in 1996 Microsoft bought Panorama’s multi-dimensional OLAP technology and closely-involved personnel and from this purchase formed the SQL Server multi-dimensional database engine team. Temtec, on the other hand, appears to have adopted a different survival strategy. Its Executive Viewer software has always supported not only Analysis Services but also Hyperion’s Essbase. You think this isn’t enough? Well, Temtec clearly offers something that ProClarity doesn’t because, just a fortnight before the ProClarity buy-out was made public, Temtec announced a software distribution agreement with Microsoft. Executive Viewer will be marketed as a ‘private label version’ by Microsoft, as part of its analytical platform. When one company is plucked from a niche market it’s rare to find the remaining companies looking in such good shape for the future. Microsoft may have harboured hopes that buying ProClarity’s visualisation software would torpedo the opposition, but in this case the opposition seems more than capable of damning the torpedoes and steaming full ahead.®
Mark Whitehorn, 18 Apr 2006

ATI rebuts 80nm GPU slip claim

ATI has denied claims that it has scaled back or postponed its plan to adopt an 80nm chip fabrication process this year. Industry insiders had alleged two GPUs due to ship in Q3 will now be fabbed at 90nm and not the smaller node as planned.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2006

Sony debuts DVD Walkman

Sony will offer Japanese consumers a Walkman-branded portable DVD player on 1 June, the consumer electronics giant said today. The tablet-style device sports a 7in LCD and a bundled recharging station with integrated stereo speakers.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2006

Mobile search focuses on smut

Mobile users search Google for porn while PDA users are more likely to be looking for local services. People using mobiles to access content were most likely to search for adult items - just under 20 per cent of all searches were for adult content. But PDA users were most likely to search for local services - searches for adult content made up under five per cent of all queries. Researchers noted that the proportion of pornographic queries declined by 50 per cent from 1997 to 2000. They said: "The high percentage of pornographic queries may be on a declining curve...Also, we speculate that people may feel more comfortable querying adult terms on private devices. Anecdotally, we have observed that users often consider their cell phone as a very personal and private device..". If mobile searches follow the evolution of desktop searching then porn should decline over time. Entertainment came second with under ten per cent of all queries by mobile users and under five per cent of queries from PDA users. The average number of words in a typical search was similar for mobile search as for desktop search. The two researchers, Maryam Kamvar, a PhD student supervised by Shumeet Baluja, looked at a million search queries made to Google mobile. They divided qeries into those made to Google's XHTML site and to its PDA site. PDA searches were only 20 per cent of XHTML searches. The searches were all made in one month of 2005. More details from ArsTechnica here and here.®
John Oates, 18 Apr 2006
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India's Rolta hits London Stock Exchange

Indian IT services firm Rolta India made a successful debut on the London Stock Exchange this morning. Rolta shares are trading at just above their bid offer of $5.45. The company's shares are already traded on the Mumbai exchange. Mobile content firm Mobestar Holdings and online ad firm Burst Media are also floating this week.®
John Oates, 18 Apr 2006
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Firefox under fire from multiple security bugs

The Mozilla Foundation has warned of a slew of critical vulnerabilities to its popular Firefox web browser and related products. The most serious of the flaws create a means for hackers to inject malware onto vulnerable systems. Other flaws would make it easier to construct phishing attacks or swipe sensitive information from PCs running Firefox. Mozilla products fail to properly enforce security restrictions in JavaScript and are subject to memory corruption via maliciously constructed HTML tags. There's also problems with how the products handle Cascading Style Sheets which leave open security holes that might allow the execution of arbitrary code on a vulnerable system. US CERT has produced a useful overview of the vulnerabilities, the most extensive ever to affect Mozilla products, here. Secunia documents the 21 vulns here. Users are advised to upgrade to Mozilla Firefox 1.5.0.2, Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5.0.2, or SeaMonkey 1.0.1 to guard against attack. A security update to the Thunderbird email client (version 1.5.0.2) is due to be released on Tuesday. ®
John Leyden, 18 Apr 2006

Eircom confirms takeover approach

Eircom has confirmed that Australian investors Babcock & Brown have made a €2.4bn bid for the Irish incumbent telco. In a statement the telco "confirms that it has received a joint proposal from Babcock & Brown Capital Limited (B&B) and eircom ESOP Trustee Limited which may or may not lead to an offer being made for eircom". Babcock owns 28.8 per cent of Eircom, while employees - through eircom ESOP Trustee Limited - own 21.6 per cent in the firm. Together, the pair own just a smidgen over half of Eircom's shares. Back in February B&B made a preliminary approach for the telco after splashing out megabucks on increasing its shareholding in Eircom. Five months ago Eircom was being eyed up by European telco Swisscom. But that approach was blocked by the Swiss Government, which owns a majority stake in Swisscom, after it decided that the telco should not press ahead with plans to expand overseas. ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Apr 2006

AMD said to be researching 'reverse multi-threading' tech

AMD is working on a way to make a multi-core processor appear to the host operating system as a single-core chip, it has been claimed. If true, the move turns on its head the drive to develop multi-threaded apps the better to take advantage of multiple cores.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2006

Cendant appoints former CA exec Jeff Clarke

Cendant has appointed IT industry veteran Jeff Clarke as the new CEO and president of its travel distribution business. Clarke takes the reigns from 1 May 2006. The appointment completes TDS's senior management - Gordon Bethune replaced Henry Silverman as chairman last month, Myra Biblowit is president and Ronald Nelson is CFO. In an oddly equivocal statement Silverman said: "Jeff Clarke has been a rising star in the technology sector for many years...As head of global operations at Hewlett-Packard following its merger with Compaq Computer Corporation, he helped to facilitate one of the largest and most successful merger integrations within the technology sector." Silverman said Clarke's skills were perfect as TDS moves from "acquisiton phase" to "execution phase". Clarke has been at Computer Associates since 2004 but has also served time at HP and Compaq. TDS is rebranding itself Travelport Inc. The company owns various firms including Cheaptickets, ebookers, Galileo and Orbitz. More from the press release here.®
John Oates, 18 Apr 2006
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Microsoft sues Dutch companies for illegal COA use

Microsoft has successfully sued two Dutch companies it claims sold Certificate of Authenticity (COA) labels without the appropriate software or repackaged them with different software. A Dutch judge ordered that the companies must now disclose a list of customers who bought the products, and pay back their illegal profits. Microsoft also wants to know where the two companies obtained the Certificates of Authenticity (COA), which according to Microsoft cannot be sold separately from the hardware. In other countries Microsoft has successfully seized counterfeit Certificates of Authenticity, which normally help consumers identify legitimate versions of its software. A number of resellers, however, are removing COAs from PCs and other hardware so that they can distribute them with pirated or legit software. In 2002 over 20,000 of these labels were stolen in Glasgow and used by software pirates. Microsoft says it is happy with the verdict in the Netherlands. It said it sends a strong message to the channel that Microsoft is out there protecting its legitimate dealers and consumers. The two companies, however, say they will appeal against the verdict. They also registered a complaint with the European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes. “Microsoft discovered we had OEM software without the hardware, which we believe is legal,” a spokesman for one of the companies, Castania, told The Register. “We never combined CAOs with different software, that is what Microsoft is saying, and they don’t have any proof.” More importantly, Castania argues, Microsoft itself is selling CAOs without the appropriate software to “royalty OEM vendors”. "We believe that is anti-competitive."
Jan Libbenga, 18 Apr 2006

Ex-Gizmondo exec denies theft, drink-driving charges

Former senior Gizmondo staffer Stefan Eriksson this week pleaded not guilty to charges of embezzlement, grand theft, driving while drunk and the illegal possession of a firearm. Eriksson, 44, made the plea through his attorney during an appearance before the Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2006

Internet embraces teledildonics

Researchers and industry types in the emerging self-pollution field of teledildonics are pushing their vision of a future where people hook all manner of sex toys up to their computers. A recent meeting heard that Sinulate Entertainment, which markets such devices for the romantically challenged, has already sold thousands of online mutual onanism kits, Reuters reports. President Steve Rhodes said: “The Iraq war...was kind of a boom for our company,” presumably in the form of lonely squaddies. Gina Lynn, Wired's sex columnist, has apparently "used and enjoyed" the system in the name of journalism, according to Reuters. She said: “people are still really afraid of any sort of combination of sex and technology and the internet. What people are missing here is the point, which is the human connection that we are facilitating through the technology.” Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex said that the prospect is of being able to create an ideal partner. She opined: “What is very likely to be present before 2016 would be a multi-sensual experience of virtual sex. There is a possibility of developing erotic materials that would allow you to create a partner of certain dimensions and qualities.” Teledildonics skeptics abound too though. San Francisco sexologist Carol Queen said: “I do find that a world full of people getting it on with you know, perfect gizmos instead of each other has some sort of a post-Orwellian kind of sense to it. I don't really think most people are going to want this.” Quite.®
Christopher Williams, 18 Apr 2006

EU mulls changes to telecoms 'universal service'

The European Commission (EC) is to take a new look at "universal service" rules to see if they need updating for the internet age. Universal service obligations ensure that basic fixed line phone services are made available at an affordable price for everyone. But there are concerns that the current rules, regulations and parameters that govern universal service might not be up to speed for the fast-changing digital world. "Stakeholders [Governments, regulators, telcos etc]...generally agree that the concept and provision of universal service which safeguards access to basic but vital communications services for disadvantaged users does need to be updated for the internet age," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding: "This year's review of the EU's electronic communications rules will give the opportunity to look at provision of universal service in an IP world." Reding's comments follow an EU-wide consultation of the current universal service "safety net". The general view among those who responded to the consultation was that universal service still "works well" and that there is no need to extend it to cover mobile services or broadband. The report found that punters already have affordable and available access to mobile communications within their home countries. As for broadband, while take-up is growing massively penetration levels are still relatively low. In both cases, the cost of extending universal service obligations to these services "would exceed benefits to users", said the report. Said Reding: "This report reflects a broad stakeholder consensus that bringing mobile and high-speed internet services to users is best left to the market, except where structural problems such as geographical remoteness justify specific public investment to help bridge the broadband gap." In March, UK regulator Ofcom ruled that high speed net access should not be part of a universal service obligation because it felt that the time wasn't right to impose such restrictions on telecoms providers. Imposing universal service obligations for broadband "would be undesirable" at this time since the broadband market is "still developing", said Ofcom. ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Apr 2006

Intel Mac tricked into triple-boot config

Intel-based Macs can now play host to three operating systems and boot into any one of them at will. The triple-boot technique has been outlined on the OnMac.net website, home of the first code to allow the new machines to run Windows XP.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2006
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Afghan market sells US military flash drives

Purloined flash drives containing classified US military secrets have turned up for sale in a bazaar in Afghanistan. Shopkeepers in the marketplace in Bagram claim the kit was sold to them by cleaners, garbage collectors and other local workers at the nearby US airbase. The LA Times reports that flash memory drives from the base are being sold in the second hand bins of the local marketplace, alongside knives, watches, refrigerators and packets of Viagra also taken from the base. The paper reports that the stolen computer drives could expose military secrets (base defence information and the names of allegedly corrupt Afghan officials, for example) as well as the social security numbers and other personal information of military personnel to all and sundry. An LA Times reporter bought flash disks at the bazaar that listed the names of suspected militants among other secrets that included the personal details of 700 US troops. Failure to securely dispose of hard disk drives that subsequently end up for sale is an issue that also affects mainstream businesses. Two years ago we reported how a customer database and the current access codes to the supposedly secure Intranet of one of Europe's largest financial services group was left on a hard disk offered for sale on eBay. The disk was subsequently purchased for just £5 by mobile security outfit Pointsec Mobile Technologies. Last April Oxfordshire-based security firm SecureTest found sensitive MoD-related files on a laptop bought from council rubbish dump. Governments have standards mandating the secure destruction of data (such as the UK's InfoSec standard 5) but departments often fail to follow government guidelines while commercial firms are often ignorant of the issue. A study by data destruction firm Life Cycle Service and Glamorgan University found that nearly half of a sample of over 100 discarded hard drives contained personal information, contravening the Data Protection Act. One in five (20 per cent) contained financial information about the organisations which owned the disks. Less then 10 per cent of the drives left functional were completely clear of data. ®
John Leyden, 18 Apr 2006

Flextronics sells software biz

Flextronics has sold its software development arm to private equity group Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts for $900m in cash and shares. KKR will pay $600m in cash and a $250m "face value note with a 10.5 per cent paid-in-kind interest coupon". Flextronics will keep a 15 per cent stake in the firm. Michael McNamara, CEO at Flextronics, said the deal continued the firm's strategy of focussing on design, vertically-integrated manufacturing services, components and logisitics. It has raised over $1bn selling its chip, networking and software businesses. Flextronics turned over $15.9bn in 2005 offering design services to car makers, engineering firms and technology and other manufacturers. The deal is expected to close this summer, subject to the usual regulatory approvals. In other news the Flextronic board has approved a share buy-back scheme of up to $250m. More from Flextronics' website here.®
John Oates, 18 Apr 2006

Nvidia touts 'flagship' GeForce Go 7900 GPUs

Nvidia has formally unveiled the GeForce Go 7900 mobile graphics chip family notebook maker Toshiba pre-announced last month. Then, Toshiba debuted a laptop based on the 7900 GS - today, Nvidia added the 7900 GTX to the line-up.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2006

Beginning SUSE Linux: From Novice to Professional

Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion Thomas Keir's book starts by explaining the background of Linux, then shows how to install the software on your system, use the basic functions, and tweak its look and feel. The book is packed with troubleshooting features to ensure that even the most cautious beginner feels comfortable. It then goes on to look at more advanced topics, reproducing the kinds of tasks you might be familiar with under SUSE Linux, whether that's listening to audio CDs and watching video files, word processing and other office tasks, or just keeping your system in top shape. Beginning SUSE Linux: From Novice to Professional will give you an in-depth understanding of the heart of Linux - mastering the command-line prompt, setting up your firewall and other security measures, scheduling backups, managing users, and much more. Enjoy savings on this and thousands of other first rate titles at The Reg bookshop. Beginning SUSE Linux: From Novice to Professional RRP £27.99 - Reg price - £16.79 Designed for newcomers to Linux, this book aims to take you all the way to the ranks of expert as quickly as possible. The full version of SUSE Linux 9.1 Professional comes packaged with a free DVD, so you'll have everything you need to get a Linux system up and running! PHP 5 Objects, Patterns, and Practice RRP £27.99 - Reg price - £16.79 A practical design and management book that explains object-oriented programming in PHP 5. It explores the principles underlying design patterns and presents a range of patterns in a PHP context. Essential PHP Tools: Modules, Extensions, and Accelerators RRP £22.00 - Reg price - £13.20 PHP Toolbox explains how to use popular PEAR modules and PHP add-ons to simplify your XML processing, database access, templating, and other common tasks. It also explains how to use a PHP code cache or optimiser, which speeds up your code without requiring any rewriting or code changes. Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL Ecommerce: From Novice to Professional RRP £28.50- Reg price - £17.10 Build a full ecommerce website from design to deployment with PHP/MySQL. Guides you through every step of the design and build process. Aimed at intermediate PHP 5 and MySQL developers, but also appropriate for programmers experienced with ASP.NET or Java. Using Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 RRP £23.99 - Reg price - £14.39 The definitive reference to Microsoft Small Business Server 2003. Author Jonathan Hassell approaches the product objectively, without evangelising. Relevant for all audiences - from beginners to IT consultants. Developing Application Frameworks in .NET RRP £31.50 - Reg price - £18.90 All you'll ever need to know about application frameworks, which are vital in the development of every large application by providing common services that are used repeatedly throughout the application. Advanced .NET Remoting, Second Edition RRP £40.99 - Reg price - £24.59 In-depth coverage of the .NET Remoting Framework. Looks at futuristic remoting tools and their present implementation in VS.NET 2005, and explains how remoting procedures will change within the new IDE and revised framework. Build Your Own .NET Language and Compiler RRP £31.50 - Reg price - £18.90 Despite curiosity about how languages work, few developers actually understand how. This title demystifies compiler and language development, and makes the subjects palatable for all programmers. Code Generation in Microsoft .NET RRP £44.00 - Reg price - £26.40 Teaches the technical details of code generation in .NET through a coherent series of steps that will help you incorporate code generation into your own development efforts. Pro ADO.NET 2.0 RRP £33.99 - Reg price - £20.39 A guide and reference for.NET developers who are looking to further their understanding of ADO.NET 2.0. Takes a new approach, focusing on practical tasks like connecting to the database, retrieving data, and working with transactions, rather than rehashing much of the MSDN documentation. Don't forget your opportunity to review current and previous offers at the Reg bookshop. ®
Team Register, 18 Apr 2006
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European firms open to security attacks: McAfee

A large number of European businesses are failing to protect themselves from security vulnerabilities, a new study has revealed.
ElectricNews.net, 18 Apr 2006

Universal releases first HD DVD movie

Universal, at least, is ready for anyone who's just bought a Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player in the US and wants some hi-def films to play on it. Make that 'movie' - the studio's Home Entertainment division today began shipping its first and only HD DVD title, Serenity, but you'll have to wait a week for further discs.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2006

Amazon extends food offerings

Amazon.com, the one-time US bookseller, is extending the range of food it offers. Hidden away in the Health and Personal Care section of Amazon.com is a large selection of snacks and other foods. Cunning place to hide the snacks...in the diet food section. These include multi-packs of cereals, beef jerky and granola, assorted cookies and elk tamales. Browsers not sated by the snacks on offer can head over to Gourmet Food which has a range of wonderous foodstuffs including chocolate, seafood, gourmet cheese, meat, game and pates. According to the FT Amazon.com is offering free shipping on most orders over $25, but be warned that Register researchers discovered the ground buffalo meat is not covered by this offer. Amazon claims 32 product categories from books, where it all began, to Home & Garden, Outdoor Living and Automotive. Surfers keen to hunt their own food can buy catapults, crossbows, throwing stars and even a "sleek red assassin ninja sword".®
John Oates, 18 Apr 2006
globalisation
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All my personal details for chocolate? Go on then

Infosec blogInfosec blog When I explain what I do to Spanish friends and neighbours in my faltering Castilian, people often ask me about malicious hackers. It's very often hard to explain that the viruses they receive in their email are most likely random attacks. A PC is, after all, very personal so it's easy to symphatise with people who take cyber-attacks personally themselves.
John Leyden, 18 Apr 2006

Casio Exilim Card EX-S600 6Mp camera

ReviewReview This, the latest edition to the company's range, without a doubt strengthens Casio's Exilim Card camera collection. The EX-S600 combines ultra-compact design with stylish looks and high-resolution six megapixel snaps...
Doug Harman, 18 Apr 2006

Poker players flock to PartyGaming

PartyGaming saw revenues jump 54 per cent over the last year as the global appetite for online gaming continues to soar. In the three months to March the giant Gibraltar-based online casino and poker group took in $342.6m - up from the $222.6m generated in revenues in the corresponding quarter last year. Much of this increased revenue came as the firm signed up more than 263,000 new poker players to its service. Publishing a trading update today the firm revealed that on average, 24,500 players logged onto its service each day during the last quarter helping the gaming giant generate revenues of almost $1m a day. "I am pleased to report that we have made a strong start to 2006," said group finance director Martin Weigold. "The first quarter has seen continued strong growth in poker on the back of a record number of poker sign-ups." Despite its continued growth PartyGaming is looking to expand its business still further with the launch of multi-lingual websites. For instance, PartyPoker.com is now available in English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Russian. More foreign language versions of its gaming sites are due to be rolled out later in the year along with backgammon, the first of two new games scheduled to be released later this year. Even though PartyGaming reported a strong start to the year and increased revenues, its shares on the London Stock Exchange were on the slide today. Part of this is down to ongoing uncertainty about proposed legislation that could see online gaming outlawed in the US. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act - which is being backed by Republican congressman Bob Goodlatte - is looking to crack down on online gambling and make it illegal to bet on the net using a credit cards and other payment methods such as internet transfers. Speaking earlier this month Goodlatte said: "I have been continuously committed to curbing gambling on the Internet. While gambling is currently illegal in the United States unless regulated by the states, the development of the Internet has made gambling easily accessible. It is common for illegal gambling businesses to operate freely until law enforcement finds and stops them. "Illegal online gambling doesn't just hurt gamblers and their families, it hurts the economy by draining dollars from the United States and serves as a vehicle for money laundering," stated Goodlatte. "It is time to shine a bright light on theses illegal sites and bring a quick end to illegal gambling on the Internet and I applaud the Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing on this important legislation." Critics of the proposed legislation claim that the measures to combat online gambling would be too complex and too costly to enforce. ®
Team Register, 18 Apr 2006
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Paint-on lasers set to rescue silicon

Researchers have said they can rescue silicon from the interconnect bottleneck that is set to put the kybosh on increases in number-crunching pace by 2010. A 'paint-on' laser will make it possible for chips to use optical communication to remove the logjam, say a team from the University of Toronto. Their innovation, published in the journal Optics Express, uses a suspension of colloidal quantum dots, which are tiny particles of semiconductor. These nanocrystals made the blue laser source used for blu-ray DVD possible. The Toronto team are the first to make a colloidal quantum dot laser produce invisible infrared light. This is the wavelength used to carry information in fibre optics. Main author of the report Sjoerd Hoogland told Science Blog: "We made our particles just the right size to generate laser light at exactly this wavelength." Integrating current bulky laser technology onto chips would be impossible, but the paint-on nanocrystal lasers could be powered by the electronics already on microchips, massively speeding up the links between microprocessor units. It was a breeze to manufacture too. Hoogland said: "I made the laser by dipping a miniature glass tube in the paint and then drying it with a hairdryer." The prospect is of a reprieve for the microchip industry in its current form. Other technologies like quantum computing and single-molecule processors are set to take over from silicon eventually. Tackle the report for yourself here.®
Christopher Williams, 18 Apr 2006

Dell unveils 'fastest' consumer laptop

Dell has announced what it claims - and it should know - is its fastest consumer-oriented notebook, the gamer friendly XPS M1710. The laptop sports Intel's quickest Core Duo processor plus Nvidia's newest, top-of-the-range mobile GPU, and comes in a choice of glowing red or metallic black carapace.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2006
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Seagate doubles 15K drive capacity with perpendicular

Seagate has updated its Cheetah 15K enterprise-oriented hard disk drive line-up with a model that incorporates perpendicular recording technology and takes the 15,000rpm drive family's capacity to 300GB - more than double the current top-of-the-line model's 147GB.
'ard Reg, 18 Apr 2006
globalisation

MS patch glitch cripples HP computers

A critical Windows patch released last week is tripping up third party applications thereby causing interference to the smooth running of Microsoft's operating system. The MS06-015 update is designed to fix a serious security flaw in Windows Explorer but in doing so it can interfere with HP's Share-to-Web software which ships with digital cameras, scanners and some HP CD-and DVD drives.
John Leyden, 18 Apr 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Fitter IBM drives profit higher in Q1

IBM's no frills agenda paid off in the first quarter as the giant posted a larger profit despite flat revenue. In the past year, IBM cleaved almost 15,000 workers from its payroll. In addition, it sold off a low-margin PC business, having already disposed of a low-margin hard disk drive unit. This seems to be helping out the bottom line. IBM, for example, reported a profit $1.7bn during the first quarter, which compares to $1.4bn in the same period last year. That's a more than tidy 21 per cent gain. Meanwhile, total revenue dropped from $22.9b to $20.7bn, including results from the old PC unit. Without the PC baggage, IBM's revenue came in flat year-over-year. "Our performance underscores the strength of our business model across a balanced portfolio of software, services and hardware, and demonstrates the benefits of the strategic actions we've taken in recent years to reposition the company," said CEO Sam Palmisano. As ever, IBM's financial statement for the first quarter proved an adventure. The company tried to put results in the best possible light by excluding both the PC unit effects and currency effects from core figures. That leaves sales up by low single-digitis in the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions. Looking at individual units, investors saw that IBM's Global Services group posted a 1 per cent decline in revenue to $11.6bn. The server and storage group reported a 3 per cent revenue boost to $4.4bn on the back of strong processor, storage and x86 server sales. Unix server, iSeries and mainframe sales declined. IBM's software business posted a 2 per cent revenue rise to $3.9bn with WebSphere and DB2 boosting the results. All in all, IBM delivered a mixed bag, which has become a common theme for the company around earnings time. The beast can always point to one or two units as success stories while the rest of the units hover in the very low single digit growth or single digit loss areas. IBM did not provide a second quarter forecast. Investors pushed IBM shares slightly higher in after-hours trading to $84.35, at the time of this report.®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Apr 2006