20th > April > 2006 Archive

Cingular subscribes to higher Q1 revenue

Cingular turned a profit of $354m in the first three months of the year, on revenues of $9bn - higher than Intel, and 9 per cent higher than a year ago. Subscriber growth exceeded expectations, with 1.7m net additions, although 600,000 of these are potentially less lucrative pay-as-you-go customers. Cingular had added 1.8m net subscribers in the preceding quarter. Cingular is getting better at its retaining customers. While gross additions are flat year on year and slightly down sequentially at 4.7m, churn is down to 1.9m. Monthly ARPU, or average revenue per subscriber, reflected the changing composition of the user base, and it fell slightly to $48.48 - down 2.3 per cent year on year. Data ARPU was $5.22 per user month, up from $3.70 a year ago. The company recorded $234m in continuing merger costs and wrote down $359m of intangibles as a result of its acquisition of AT&T Wireless. Cingular ended Q1 2006 with 55.8m mobile subscribers, up from 5.5m a year ago.®
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Apr 2006

Microsoft extends Visual Studio handout program

Microsoft is embracing the free tools concept as a way to drive uptake of its software, announcing an entry-level edition of Visual Studio that will be available permanently at no cost. Visual Studio 2005 Express, which targets so-called hobbyists, is to join Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 Express database by being made available for free. When it launched Visual Studio 2005 last November, Microsoft originally intended the suite's Express edition to be free for just 12 months. Microsoft is making the change to tap a growing market of hobbyist Windows and web developers. The worldwide population of non-professional developers is estimated to number some 18m individuals, compared to 14m professional programmers. Clearly, Microsoft hopes developers using its low-end product will graduate into the full edition of the suite for private or professional engagements. Once that happens, Microsoft can then start charging them thousands of dollars for both the software and membership of the company's premier developer network, Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). Additionally, Microsoft will hope to drive further adoption of its operating systems and applications, as hobbyists who build applications will require an underlying software platform to serve as the runtime environment. Microsoft said Wednesday that the combination of Visual Studio Express along with the SQL Server Express database would "meet the needs of a wide range of software enthusiasts, including beginning Windows developers, hobbyist web developers, amateur games developers and even hardware developers". Visual Studio Express consists of Visual Web Developer Express, Visual Basic Express, Visual C# Express, Visual C++ Express and Visual J# Express. ®
Gavin Clarke, 20 Apr 2006

Umlaut does not make kitchens Germanic

The company behind Moben Kitchens is not German, it is based on an industrial estate near Manchester – and its Möben trademark, which appears to include an umlaut, does not mislead consumers, according to a ruling by the UK's advertising watchdog today. German and Scandinavian kitchens are widely perceived as being of higher quality than British kitchens and a viewer of Moben's TV ad complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)the apparent use of the umlaut in the company's name implied that Moben was a German company. According to Wikipedia, similar thinking influenced Dixons' choice for its own-brand electronics in the 1980s – hence the Japanese-sounding 'Matsui', for a company based in Hertfordshire. Five years ago, the ASA ruled against Moben in response to a similar complaint and ordered the firm to remove the little dots from its printed ads. But this time the ASA was more forgiving. It referred to the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, which said that using a German-sounding name did not imply that Moben or its products were German. It pointed out that Prêt a Manger's sandwiches were unlikely to be considered French. Moben said 'Möben' has been a registered trademark since 1977. It denies trying to boost its credibility with an umlaut. Rather, it has argued that the dots are an artistic device and that any resemblance with an umlaut is coincidental. The dots appear on its signs but not in text in its ads or in the text of its website. After the last ASA ruling, it altered its press advertising to make clear that it was a British company. It said it would be happy to add a similar disclaimer to its TV ads. The ASA welcomed that offer – but concluded that umlauts are used in countries other than Germany (they can be found in Austria, Switzerland and Lichtenstein) and that viewers would recognise that a company's trademark would not necessarily relate directly to the origin of that company or its products. It also noted that the website featured in the ad was moben.co.uk, which supported a British connection. See: This week's broadcast rulings (14 page/62KB PDF) Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 20 Apr 2006

Ruling blurs meaning of an employee

Your contractors might be employees – even when you have a written agreement that says otherwise. That is the effect of a ruling last month which bestowed upon a telecoms specialist, contracted as an agent, all the rights of an employee. With seemingly never-ending rights for employees and increasingly complex obligations for employers, many companies favour agency workers and independent contractors over the recruitment of staff. But in a ruling against Cable & Wireless (C&W) last month, the Court of Appeal said a contract of employment can be implied in such arrangements. The case concerned telecoms specialist Mr P Muscat. He had been employed by a company called Exodus Internet. In 2001, Exodus was preparing for a sale and wanted to reduce its staff count. It dismissed Muscat, agreeing to rehire him as a contractor through the vehicle of his personal service company, E-Nuff. C&W bought Exodus and told Muscat he must deal with the company through an agency. The agency contract with E-Nuff stated that nothing in it should be construed as constituting or establishing a relationship of employee and employer between the parties. Thereafter (at C&W's request), the agency terminated the contract with E-Nuff and, in response, Muscat filed a claim of unfair dismissal. He argued that he had actually been an employee of C&W and as such had been unfairly dismissed. Mr Muscat went to an employment tribunal hearing. In 2004, another case on similar issues had been heard by the Court of Appeal. It had to decide whether a cleaner, Patricia Dacas, was an employee of an employment agency Brook Street Bureau. It ruled against Mrs Dacas, saying an employment relationship can potentially be implied between an agency supplied worker and an end user and that, in deciding the true employment status of a worker, employment tribunals should consider not just the written contract governing the arrangement, but also all the evidence as to the factual reality of the arrangement. Muscat's employment tribunal considered this guidance and ruled there was an implied contract of employment between him and C&W despite the fact that there was a quadrangular relationship among Muscat, his personal service company E-Nuff, the agency and C&W. The Court of Appeal upheld that ruling. It said the guidance in Mrs Dacas's case did not mean that employment tribunals were bound to reach any particular conclusion in this type of situation, only that employment tribunals should consider the possibility than an implied contract of employment might exist. C&W argued that to call Muscat an employee of C&W amounted to a change in law by "judicial creativity". The Court of Appeal disagreed. It said that in cases such as these there are a number of different possibilities as regards the reality of the employment situation: an employment relationship might be capable of being implied between the individual worker and the end user or even the agency. Robyn McIlroy, an employment law specialist with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, commented: "Rather unhelpfully, the Court of Appeal was reluctant to give any further guidance." So the question of whether a worker is in fact an employee will, as ever, turn on the facts of each case. McIlroy says the case sends a warning to any company that uses agency workers or personal service companies to avoid employment liabilities. "Having a written contract that expressly denies the existence of an employment relationship is no longer enough in itself," she says. "Consider now how to minimise the risk of creation of an implied contract of employment." Suggestions include keeping assignments short, preventing workers from being integrated into the workforce, ensuring there is no obligation to provide work, and reducing day to day control and direction of the worker. "Perhaps one of the best ways to manage this kind of risk is to negotiate comprehensive warranties and indemnities in the contractual documentation, whether between the agency which supplies the worker or the independent contractor directly," McIlroy said. "When in doubt, spending some time and money seeking legal advice on appropriate drafting and management of potential risks at the beginning of the arrangement could save thousands of pounds in the long run." Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 20 Apr 2006

Home Office finalises police IT plan

The government department has confirmed the funding to complete work on the National Police Database Police minister Hazel Blears announced the plans, saying the Home Office would spend £367m, of which it has already provided £31m, to complete the work by 2010. A spokesperson for the Home Office told Government Computing News: "The end game is for the Police National Database to be in place by 2010. It will be a single place for all the programmes to meet." The most significant is the Information Management, Prioritisation, Analysis, Co-ordination and Tasking (Impact) programme for a searchable index system allowing police to access records data across geographical boundaries. It will include an Impact Nominal Index (INI), which is to hold over 30m names drawn from local records. The programme will also: standardise national data format and provide direct access to information through Impact Crisp (Cross Regional Information Sharing Project); provide common standards for police information management through the Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information and its associated guidance; replace the Police National Computer with the Police National Database. The Criminal Justice Information Technology (CJIT) organisation is joining the programme as technical delivery partner for the Police National Database. The Police Information Technology Organisation will continue as technical delivery partner for the further development of the interim Impact systems and will transfer the Police National Computer onto new hardware. Blears said: "This is a really important and positive step forward in delivering our commitments in response to Sir Michael Bichard's recommendations following the Soham murders and working with the police service to deliver more effective information management and information sharing. "The Impact programme is already delivering new capabilities, and the development of a police national database will transform the way in which police share intelligence and other information. "The programme will target offenders operating across force boundaries and help police more effectively prevent and detect crime, and bring more offenders to justice, contributing to our aims of building safer communities and greater public confidence." This article was originally published at Kablenet.
Kablenet, 20 Apr 2006

Chip maker's 'setback' points to major iPod revision

AnalysisAnalysis PortalPlayer, the company that provides Apple with controller chips for the iPod family, has given us a tantalising glimpse of the Mac maker's plans for future music players. Unfortunately for PortalPlayer, it's not going to be part of the programme, it warned investors yesterday.
Tony Smith, 20 Apr 2006

BBC climate project hit by bug

The BBC's climate change distributed computing project has been scuppered by an error in its climate model. The simulation was set to run conditions from 1920 to 2080. The scientists behind it have had to reset everyone's program back to where it was two months ago. An errant man-made sulphate parameter is responsible for the setback. Sulphate particles reflect sunlight back out, reducing the overall energy in the atmosphere. The chemicals weren't being ramped up quickly enough to simulate global industrialisation. The bug means the results from the last two months show what would happen if more sunlight was able to get through unadulterated. The climate warmed faster than it should have because of the glitch. Principal investigator Myles Allan reckons the effort hasn't been wasted though. He said: "At some point in the future, we may have done an experiment like this anyway." The results were due to be a centrepiece of BBC Four's summer “Climate Chaos” season. The TV schedule will now be rejigged so the data can be salvaged. Details of the technical background to the problem can be found here. ®
Christopher Williams, 20 Apr 2006

CfH signs support deal

NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) has awarded a contract to Fujitsu Services to provide service desk support for its National Programme for IT. The contract, announced on 19 April 2006, is valued at £41m for the core service and will run for seven years to 2013. It is aimed at providing more in-depth support for new applications than is available from the existing service desk. It will provide technical support for the major applications of the National Progamme, including the Care Record Service, Choose and Book (for handling GP referrals for secondary care), the Electronic Prescriptions Service and Picture Archiving and Communications Service. The contract has two elements. A national service desk will provide the core services through four contact centres at Wakefield, Stevenage, Manchester and Footscray. They will be able to receive enquiries by phone, fax, email and internal intranets. A spokesperson for Fujitsu Services told Government Computing News the firm will ensure the relevant expertise is at hand through "ongoing training of staff and close working with the NHS". Up to 870,000 NHS staff will have access to the service when fully operational. At its peak it is anticipated that the service desk will manage approximately 4m calls per year. The second element is a framework of optional services to provide service desk support for a wider range of IT systems and services. This arrangement allows NHS organisations to take advantage of nationally negotiated prices. The new service desk will replace and scale up the existing NHS Connecting for Health National Service Desk. Following a transition period, it is anticipated that services will transfer to Fujitsu during autumn 2006. This article was originally published at Kablenet.
Kablenet, 20 Apr 2006

Police seek phone cable vandals

Police in the Thames Valley are trying to track down vandals who damaged a number of BT junction boxes leaving hundreds of people without phone or internet services. The damage was caused around two industrial estates in High Wycombe last Thursday. BT said more than 900 homes and businesses had their phone services cut as a result of the criminal damage. Detective Sergeant Steve Fox, of High Wycombe CID, said: "The vandals went to considerable lengths to do this damage and it has inconvenienced hundreds of people and businesses. "People may well have seen men working around manhole covers in the road and believed them to be workmen. I hope if anyone saw anything such as this they would get in touch." Police have stepped up patrols in the area and are appealing for witnesses to come forward. ®
Team Register, 20 Apr 2006

Rambus posts mixed Q1 results

Rambus saw is first-quarter income slide despite a year-on-year jump in sales, the memory technology developer announced last night. Revenues for the three months to 31 March 2006 reached $47.2m, up 36 per cent on Q1 FY2005's $34.7m and up 13.5 per cent on the previous quarter's $41.6m.
Tony Smith, 20 Apr 2006

17in MacBook Pro to launch next week?

Apple looks set to announce the 17in MacBook Pro next week, timing the launch to coincide with the Las Vegas-hosted National Association of Broadcasters convention, a gathering of professional users the company has long pitched its big-screen PowerBook G4 notebooks to.
Tony Smith, 20 Apr 2006
channel

DCA contract merger unbalanced by Libra

The risky £1bn merger of IT contracts at the Department of Constitutional Affairs has been delayed while it tries to absorb what must be the most delayed IT project in the history of government. The numerous contracts being absorbed by the DCA's DISC (development, innovation and support contracts) programme are being channelled into two guinea pig contracts that will determine the nature of every future IT deal government does with industry. DISC is being used as a test base for contentious model contract terms that the Office of Government Commerce, the Treasury's procurement sheriff, has been trying to get the industry to swallow for over 18 months. But they weren't having any of it, and neither where a roll call of experts who lined up to say they might make life even more difficult for a government trying to avoid expensive IT cock-ups. The two DISC contracts where meant to be awarded on 13 April, but have been put back until further notice. The "timescales" for DISC have been rejigged, a DCA spokesman said in an email to The Reg, "in order to maximise the strategic IT opportunities presented by DISC". What on earth could he mean? Delay is par for the course for most IT projects, but the DCA is right in the middle of contractual negotiations over DISC. Delay usually comes later, when it transpires that setting the contract to a political agenda and timetable has created unrealistic terms of reference for the supplier (an oft repeated error, despite reams of advice - take the NHS National Programme for IT and watch for Identity Cards). But the delay is over something more enigmatic, as the DCA spokesman described it: "Primarily, this relates to strengthening the way the Libra application services are brought into DISC." Libra, a unified computer system for magistrates, has been beset by problems ever since it was first drafted 16 years ago. It was one of the Private Finance Initiative projects that got PFI banned from IT projects. Even now, it has only reached pilot stage in two magistrate's courts - the most recent coming line just ten days ago. One of the most important lessons learned from Libra was the stupidity of trying to lump disproportionate amounts of project risk onto suppliers, which was an ambition of PFI contracts. As it happens, the controversial terms that the DCA borrowed from the OGC, and over which it is still locked in negotiations with suppliers, are all to do with the allocation of risk. That is, the OGC has been trying to get IT suppliers to carry more contractual risk than many think wise. The OGC's new model contracts were in part designed to fill the hole left by the loss of PFI in government IT, and experts say they have a lot in common with the tough PFI terms, as well as those desperate suppliers embraced in order to get some of the £6bn being spent on NPfIT. Now they have become standard fare in the industry, despite the OGC's admission last summer, after intense industry lobbying, that there should be a "hiatus" on its model terms while it figured out whether they were a good idea after all. Did no one hear about the hiatus? The OGC can't have - it is still advising that its contentious model terms should be used.®
Mark Ballard, 20 Apr 2006
globalisation

Stop the bots

I found the opening scene to the 1991 movie sequel, Terminator 2, to be one of the most powerful SciFi film openings ever. There's a massive firestorm, chunky metal warriors waging war against humans, and then the camera zooms into a metal robot foot crushing a human skull. It’s very graphic. The world has been taken over by terminator robots, first created by man and now bent on destroying us. It's Skynet. What interested me most about this SciFi classic was how real and plausible this future could be, understanding the dark side of human nature that creates evil and some people's inherent need to cause harm.
Kelly Martin, 20 Apr 2006
New Intel logos

Intel to push BIOS replacement with 'Centrino 4'

Intel will drive the adoption of the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) with the introduction of 'Santa Rosa', the next generation of its Centrino notebook platform, it has been claimed. So far, the only Intel-based machines on the market that use EFI instead of older BIOS technology are Apple's latest desktops and notebooks.
Tony Smith, 20 Apr 2006

Captain Cyborg acquires Dalek capability

Imagine this nightmare scenario: an alleged UK university cybernetics professor - actually an agent of the extraterrestrial Lizard Alliance and controlled by explosive cranial implant - himself gains control of a terrifying weapon of mass destruction and proceeds to implement his plan for the total subjugation of humanity in a Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead public library. Scoff at your peril: that's exactly what happened back on 8 April when Kevin Warwick, aka Captain Cyborg, took the controls of a full-blown Dalek at Maidenhead's Cox Green Library, ostensibly to judge a kids' Doctor Who fancy dress compo. The local council's blurb explains: Children and adults alike will be heading for the library on Cox Green School campus to welcome a life-size Dalek on a special mission to exterminate the usual library Saturday programme and bring fun for all the family. The remote-control alien will be accompanied by Professor Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at Reading University, who will officially open the new library before giving everyone the opportunity to see Dr Who's deadliest enemy in action. We're not quite sure how this one slipped under the neoLuddite Resistance Army (NRA) radar, but God alone knows we apologise to the good burghers of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead for not alerting them as to how close their kids came to extermination. We can only conclude that Warwick's Dalek slave had not been sufficiently tortured to carry out its master's dark will, viz: making short work of the municipal facility before rampaging through Maidenhead dispensing terrible death and destruction and reducing that sun-dappled suburban paradise to a tortured mass of brick rubble and burning flesh. Apologies are clearly in order. Back in June 2005, an NRA cadre detonated an experimental RFID-frying EMP device - "specifically designed to tackle the menace of futurologising cyberpundits" - in the centre of Reading. Our hope was that the "Warwick" weapon might disable the good prof's implanted cybernetic capabilities and therefore render him unable to appear on television giving forth about his own personal vision of a distopian future. In the months following the Warwick's deployment, nothing was heard of Captain Cyborg, not even a brief radio appearence extolling the virtues of chipping your kids as a precaution against abduction, or how in the future you'll be able to turn the kettle on via Blutooth just by thinking about a cup of coffee. Chillingly, the Warwick was clearly ineffective. NRA members worldwide are therefore warned to be on the lookout for hideous Davros-style hybrids of university lecturer and Dalek trundling around campuses proclaiming to anyone who will listen about the ultimate ascension of his genetically-engineered "mutos". ® Bootnote Thanks to NRA member Alex for this terrifying sighting of the Warwick monster. The Rise of the Machines™ Man survives satanic BMW crash-and-burn Second Freeview box signals alien invasion fleet Lizard Army fuses woman with black helicopter NRA probes Japanese sex android Androids launch minicab firm Beware the breast-examining hand of death Lizard Army Neo-Mech menaces eBay Vampire robonurses hunt in packs Captain Cyborg gives forth on CNN Cornell Uni develops apocalypse cube Sex android begats Armageddon machine Man executes Chrysler Rise of the man-eating cyberloo Sobbing Frenchman recounts Renault Laguna terror ordeal Fire-breathing bus attacks South London Dyson unleashes self-replicating hoover Battling teen crushes roboarm menace French join motorised Lizard Alliance Lizard Army develops copulating robot We are Zogg: The Cuddly Menace Lizard Army invades Alaska London menaced by flaming DVD players Killer hoover attacks Scotsman Car self-destructs in assassination bid The rise of the rat-brain controlled android Japanese unveil trumpet-playing robot Boffins unleash robotic cockroach Ukrainian teen fights the Rise of the Machines Man in satanic Renault terror ordeal Killer cyberappliances: Satan implicated US develops motorised robobollard Killer cyberloo kidnaps kiddie A robot in every home by 2010 Cyberappliances attack Italian village Fire-breathing buses threaten London Cyberloo blast rocks Stoke-on-Trent Spanish cyberkiosks claim second victim Cyberkiosk assaults Spanish teenager Hi-tech toilet caught on camera Hi-tech toilet swallows woman
Lester Haines, 20 Apr 2006
server room

Sewers used for laying cables

A firm from North Wales is using the UK's sewers to create fibre optic cable networks. H2O Networks gives organisations the chance to set up their own IT and telecom networks via fibre optic cables laid through the sewer system. The outfit, which is based in St Asaph, has already used its Focus (Fibre Optical Underground Sewer System) product to install cables for six universities and three councils, claiming that its approach is cheaper than traditional cabling methods. "A network can be operational within weeks rather than months as cable can be laid up to 80 per cent faster than traditional methods," H2O Network's Carl Cumiskey said. "There is also no need for the complex negotiations for permission to dig roads and pavements which can add considerable costs to a network provision." H2O Network has so far negotiated deals to gain access to 80 per cent of the UK's sewer network and hopes to gain access to the rest by the end of the year. Of course, using sewers as conduits for cable is nothing new. Two years ago, Scottish Water allowed its sewers to be used to roll-out a fibre broadband network to a business park at Rosyth in Fife. Thames Water has also allowed its sewers in London to be used to lay cables. ®
Team Register, 20 Apr 2006
homeless man with sign

Opera 9 beta debuts

Opera has released the first public beta of the next version of its browser. Opera 9 beta introduces widgets, small AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML) applications that provide specific functionality such as news tickers or currency conversion. It also includes improved content and pop-up blocking along with thumbnail previews of web content. A BitTorrent search engine is available from the browser’s user interface in a development Opera said will allow for faster and more efficient downloads of large files. Once a file has been selected, Opera's Transfer Manager feature will handle the download. Opera first incorporated the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol support in July 2005 with Opera 8.02. BitTorrent’s agreement with Opera is the first under a recently announced scheme to license the BitTorrent trademark. A complete list of features can be found here. Opera 9 beta comes free of charge and is available for download here. Opera cautions that the software remains in beta testing, so it might contain bugs. Users are urged to use it only on properly backed-up computers. ®
John Leyden, 20 Apr 2006
For Sale sign detail

Intel ships ultra-low voltage Core Solos

Intel has quietly introduced a pair of 'Yonah'-based ultra-low voltage processors, both of which are believed to consume no more than 5.5W, but contain only one processing core and run over a reduced 533MHz frontside bus.
Tony Smith, 20 Apr 2006

Low-cost VT-free 65nm Pentium Ds to ship Q3?

Intel appears to be preparing to release a second low-end Pentium D 9xx processor next quarter, in addition to the anticipated 925 chip that turned up on company roadmaps earlier this year. The two desktop dual-core processors lack support for Intel's Virtualisation Technology (VT).
Tony Smith, 20 Apr 2006
graph up

Lax approach to mobile security

Street-wise? When you're out in public places, there are certain things to do for reasons of personal safety and security, especially in unfamiliar locations. Look before crossing the road. Keep your money and credit cards hidden from view. Destroy credit card chits with copies of signatures to keep them out of the wrong hands. Avoid the large gang of drunken tearaways at midnight, and so on. But technology does strange things to people's view of security, and expectations alter dramatically. Take PIN numbers on credit and debit cards for instance. Keying in a secret 4 digit code is not automatically more secure than openly writing a complex but only vaguely repeatable line of scrawl (did anyone ever really check them anyway?), and certainly not very secure when the secret code is shared. The technology does not make things more secure, but the process, and the way the PIN is kept closed and private, can. When money is lost from an account, consumers immediately assume a bank error and rarely believe it is their fault, whereas banks act as if they only ever lose money through fraud. There are instances when the extreme views at either end are correct, but most often the truth will lie somewhere in the middle. Partly, security is the responsibility of the banks or issuing authorities and the way they deal with the retailer, and partly it is down to the individual card holder - a shared responsibility. Keypads and screens have to be large enough to use and see, and that makes it easier to be seen by others. So the right thing to do as a minimum is destroy the PIN confirmation upon arrival, not write the PIN down on a piece of paper that others might see, and shield the keypad from view during usage. Moving from personal security and one's own valuables, to those entrusted to employees by their employers, and the view of responsibility is still shared, but the reality shifts somewhat. This is particularly true for the attitudes of the users of various types of mobile devices. According to a recent Quocirca survey of over 2000 IT professionals, almost three quarters think there is a shared responsibility for keeping a mobile device safe and secure, but the attitude of users is best characterised as "irresponsible" by almost half of those in IT management who responded to the survey. What has led to this perception, and have mobile users always been irresponsible? At one time business users would cup their hand to their mouth as they spoke potentially sensitive information into a mobile phone in a public place. There were even aftermarket products to shield the mouth area from view. Today, not only are conversations engaged, even in the most crowded areas, but sensitive information can be heard on almost any train or city centre bus. Personal information might be regarded as non-confidential and shared this way, but commercial information should be better protected. The picture is no better with a mobile computer. As screen brightness has improved, and viewing angles widened, not only does the user get a better view, but so does anyone else around. It probably isn't a huge problem for much of the information, but most businesses would still prefer it not to be shared. When we researched mobile security issues just under a year ago, two thirds of IT professionals rated data falling into the wrong hands by theft or loss of a device as the most important mobile security issue. Snooping is only one way some information may be lost or accidentally disclosed, but it is indicative of a casual approach from the mobile user, which spills out into how they then look after the device as well as the data on it. In some respects, the smart handheld devices - PDAs, BlackBerries and so on - are more discrete. Private messages can be sent as emails, rather than bellowed in earshot of passers-by, the screen can be angled from prying eyes to keep sensitive information private, and with suitable device management software, the device can be remotely backed-up, wiped of data and completely disabled. Here too, however, the technology is not the issue, it's the people and processes. Smaller devices seem to be easier to mislay than larger ones, and according to our research, too many companies leave smart handheld security in the hands of the user, or treat it as less important than that of laptops. The potential privacy gains are eroded by a lax approach. A change in attitude is needed, and this has to come from the top. Mobile security needs to be spelled out in policies and supported by appropriate technologies, but ultimately it is everyone's responsibility to behave securely and professionally to protect business assets. Are your mobile phones and PDAs protected by a PIN? Is it the same one as your credit card? Oh dear. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com Rob Bamforth is a principal analyst working with Quocirca Ltd, focusing on the areas of service provision and mobility.
Rob Bamforth, 20 Apr 2006

Animal researchers call for support

A drug-industry backed online petition has been launched to encourage the public to show their support for animal testing. The Coalition for Medical Progress hopes to mobilise what it calls “the silent majority”. The "People's Petition" is the brainspawn of David Taylor, apparently a member of the public with no links to medical research. He said: “I wanted to show people who carry out medical research that I value and support their work and that I want to see this important work continue in Britain.” Signing up to the petition commits you to the following statements: 1. I believe that medical research is essential for developing new medical and veterinary treatments. I understand that finding safe and effective treatments and medicines requires some studies using animals. 2. I believe that medical research using animals, carried out to the highest standards of care and welfare, and where there is no alternative available, should continue in the UK. 3. I believe that people involved in medical research using animals have a right to work and live without fear and intimidation or attack. The petition forms part of an ongoing publicity and legal effort by the research community and police to fight back against intimidation and violence by animal rights extremists. February saw the first demonstration in favour of testing, and the recent conviction of a group of extremists who desecrated the grave of an elderly woman whose family ran a farm breeding guinea pigs used in research. The TeGenero TGN1412 drug trial debacle, where six men were made seriously ill by an immune system therapy despite it having been proved safe in monkeys, has led to some in the press calling into question the usefulness of animal testing. Scientists say it remains the only way to even approach simulating the interactions that occur in the human body, however. More information here. ®
Christopher Williams, 20 Apr 2006

Of privately-held firms (and why they are such bad press fodder)

Why don't the big companies like SAS and Information Builders Inc (IBI) you might actually use at work get the press coverage of, say, Microsoft? It could be because all journalists are on the Microsoft payroll (but just check out the sort of car most full-time journos – without a day job – drive, compared to those driven by the average Microsoft employee). I think it might really be because publicly-quoted companies, such as Microsoft, have to keep their share price up - and stock market players read the press.
David Norfolk, 20 Apr 2006

Tom Jones and Monty Python join 419ers

We all know that, as the song goes, "It's not unusual to be loved by anyone", but what is unusual is that gusset-moistening Home Counties fave Tom Jones should apparently choose to do business with the Lads from Lagos, in the process enlisting the help of one of the Monty Python team: Subject: Your Urgent Attention Needed From Tom Jones in U.K Dear Friend, In appreciation of your esteemed contact received through the internet and the choice of your country. I wish to introduce myself. My name is Tom Jones, the son of Mr. Terry Jones of Zimbabwe. During the current crisis against the farmers of Zimbabwe by the supporters of our President Robert Mugabe to claim all the white owned farms in our country, he ordered all the white farmers to surrender their farms to his party members and their followers. You can view website to see the kind of brutal and wicked government we have in Zimbabwe: http://www.rte.ie/news/2000/0418/zimbabwe.html My Father was one of the best farmers in the country and knowing that he did not support the President political ideology, the president supporters invaded my father's farm and burnt down everything, killed him and confiscated all his investments. Before this unpleasant incident, my father and Barr.Kelvin,our family lawyer, had already visited Holland in Europe, to deposit the sum of thirteen Million,five hundred thousand US Dollars (US$13.5million) in a a safe security company vault in Holland, and also he deposited the sum of Fifteen million U.S Dollars ($15,000,000.00) in a safe financial institution in London... After the bloody incident, we all had to escape to London for the safety of our lives. Where we have been living since then as political refugee. I am seeking for a reliable foreigner who can assist us in moving this funds out for safe profitable investment in your country... Your help will be appreciated with 30% of the total fund, And 70% will be for my family. We will be happy if you will be able to invest our share in your country,under your supervision. I would appreciate confidentiality and honesty in our correspondence. Your immediate response will be highly welcome, I hope to hear from you soon. Pls kindly contact me on Email Privately: tomjones_213@sify.com May God bless you and your family. Tom Jones For the family. Lovely. Readers are invited to supply the appropriate Monty Python quote for this entertaining version of the "Zimbabwean farmer tale of woe" 419 email. Please forward all suggestions to Tom Jones on the above email addy. ®
Lester Haines, 20 Apr 2006

MSI preps handheld Freeview box

Taiwan's MSI has announced a portable media player that incorporates its own Freeview digital TV receiver - a world first, the company claims. The D310 has a 4.2in display. The antenna's built in and ready to pick up DVB-T signals, teletext and electronic programme guide data.
'ard Reg, 20 Apr 2006

eBay ups revs but disappoints market

eBay's latest set of financial results has been labelled a disappointment by market watchers concerned that the online auction giant is seeing a slowdown in growth. eBay's stock dipped five per cent on news that while revenues were up, net income was on the slide. Publishing Q1 results for the three months to March, eBay generated net revenues of $1.39bn - up 35 per cent on the same period last year ($1.03bn). In the US, net revenues hit $527m, up 30 per cent on the year, while its overseas operations saw takings grow 25 per cent to $493m. Strip out the impact of foreign currency fluctuations, and revenues for eBay's international operations increased 32 per cent. Despite this increase in revenues, which met the market's expectations, net income fell three per cent on the year to $248.3m fuelling concerns about the company's future growth. The firm also revealed that at the end of March the number of registered users was just shy of 200m - up 31 per cent on the 147m users reported at the end of Q1 05. The number of active users - those eBayers who either bid, bought, or listed an item within the last year - increased 25 per cent to a record 75.4m in Q1 06. As for eBay-owned VoIP outfit Skype (which is "not a telephony replacement service and cannot be used for emergency calling"), it saw Q1 revenues jump 42 per cent to $35.2 compared to the $24.8m generated between October 2005 to the end of the quarter. "Q1 was an excellent quarter for the company, with strong growth across our portfolio of businesses," eBay boss Meg Whitman said. ®
Tim Richardson, 20 Apr 2006
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Family orders TV online - with added snake

An Edinburgh family got an unexpected bonus with the TV they ordered online - a stroppy 10-inch python which required the attendance of the local ophidian SWAT team. The Sighthill e-shoppers were unpacking the telly when the slippery Sid put in his unscheduled appearence, the Scotsman reports. A three-year-old lad first sighted the beast slithering from the packaging, and screamed accordingly. This prompted the python to rear and show its fangs, which in turn obliged the family to retreat to another room into which they barricaded themselves. Doreen Graham, a spokeswoman for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), who attended the scene, explained: "The snake would probably have been a bit dopey due to the heat in the room, but the reaction of the child startled the python so it reared and showed its fangs." The beast was later identified as a non-venemous Children's Python, probably from Northern Oz or Malaysia. The SSPCA has inevitably named the little fella "Monty" and is looking to rehome him. Disappointingly for those of us who like proper background detail with our snake emergency stories, the Scotsman fails to note the make and model of the television in question. ®
Lester Haines, 20 Apr 2006
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We're winning the war against hackers

Despite the apparent growth in security incidents and hacker attacks over recent years, a clear majority (72 per cent) of UK security professionals feel their organisation is more secure than it was 12 months ago.
John Leyden, 20 Apr 2006

China bites back in transplant trade scandal

A growing firestorm surrounds China's reported selling of organs harvested from prisoners it puts to death. Today China fired back at the widely reported statement by The British Transplantation Society criticising it for taking organs from its many executed prisoners without permission. Speaking at a news conference Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang sniped: "I want to remind this organization not to forget that a few years ago this kind of thing happened in Britain." Qin did not detail what he meant by this. The British Transplantation Society (BTS) chose the visit of Chinese president Hu to the US to issue a strong statement on the secretive trade. They said organs are bought and sold in a racket that involves transplant centres, patients, the authorities and the judiciary responsible for the prisoners. Adding the doctors' voices to that of human rights groups, BTS Ethics Chairman Stephen Wigmore said: “BTS condemns unreservedly any activity that transgresses an individual's human rights or involves the coercion of an individual to become an organ donor.” Chinese officials deny the allegations of coercion. They say organs from executed prisoners have sometimes been used, but only with prior permission and in a very few cases. In March Qin said: "It is a complete fabrication, a lie or slander to say that China forcibly takes organs from the people given the death penalty for the purpose of transplanting them.” The BTS reckons an “the accumulating body of evidence” says otherwise. Bush is being urged to put pressure on Chinese President Hu when they meet today in Washington. A subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee heard evidence about the transplant organ trade Wednesday. Beijing has promised to outlaw the cash trade in organs from July. It says written consent will now always be required from donors.®
Christopher Williams, 20 Apr 2006

US TV networks appeal after $4m FCC indecency clampdown

It has been a long time coming, but there was always something inevitable about the US broadcasting industry and the way it has been saddled with random and unfathomable indecency fines. It was bound to take the case to a US court eventually. ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, together with their affiliate groups and the Hearst-Argyle Television group of stations, have filed appeals in various federal courts challenging the FCC’s indecency standards and put out a statement this week to say so, decrying the record $4m of FCC fines made during the course of last month. The FCC seems to be trying to turn the clock back and re-impose a morality associated with the world some 50 years ago. But at the same time it won't put a clear set of rules on the process. On the surface the US administration appears to want to create a global ethos where it is not okay to say a swearword, and not okay to mention sex, but where it is okay to carry a gun and kill people and to invade another country for its oil. But even this is an over simplification of what’s going on here. One or two commentators, notably the New York Times, have noticed parallels between the TV stations that are receiving fines and those that have not vociferously supported George Bush. The fear is that the FCC fines are being used as a form of party political censorship. At present there is no distinction between a swear word that just slips out from an interviewee and one that is scripted in a TV series and broadcast before the 9pm watershed, and this, argue the broadcasters, makes it impossible to assess the risks of being fined. Regardless of where anyone sits politically, the free to air broadcasters are fighting to keep viewers and therefore advertisers, in an increasingly competitive market. Without the latitude to attract viewers on the same basis as pay TV networks, their services and therefore the value of their spectrum are being eaten away. Something the FCC will have to address before the auctions for what is now analog TV spectrum, during 2009. There is a good chance that there will be far less companies bidding for that spectrum if broadcasting goes into decline between now and then, something Faultline. has said is almost certain over the coming years. There is a slim chance that this is the beginning of a long fight that will ultimately end in the Supreme Court which will establish a new relationship between the broadcasting community and it public, and much of this will hinge on the US First Amendment arguments which say that they should be protected under freedom of speech. The likely result, and the reason that the networks have all agreed to act in concert, is that there may be a clampdown by way of reprisals, and at least this way the FCC will have trouble knowing who to target. The networks filed their lawsuits in federal appeals courts in Washington and New York and one of these goes all the way back to when General Electric, three years ago was fined by the FCC for the U2 singer Bono saying, "this is f…… brilliant", while accepting a Golden Globe Award. Another case relates to the half-time entertainment at last year’s SuperBowl when Janet Jackson bared her breast. At present, pay TV doesn’t operate under the same rules as the Free to Air networks, and nor does video sent over the internet. This is because the primary claim to control radio waves comes because the FCC, as all other regulators, treats the radio spectrum as a national asset that it must police, unlike cable and the internet, which are not in place due to a governmental act. Copyright © 2006, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.
Faultline, 20 Apr 2006
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Computer 2000 and Fujitsu climb into bed

Fujitsu and Computer 2000 will be teaming up to push document management products. Fujitsu hopes the trade-only distributor will help it peddle its leading range of scanners to new markets.
Christopher Williams, 20 Apr 2006

Ad watchdog mulls Carphone 'free broadband forever' complaints

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has received more than a dozen complaints concerning last week's unveiling of "free" broadband from the Carphone Warehouse. Priced at £20.99 a month, Carphone's ambitious plans for a new combo broadband and phone package (including line rental) based on local loop unbundling (LLU) is being plugged as "free broadband forever". However, Carphone's claims have not gone unchallenged. Customers have written to the ASA to complain about the term "free" (how can it be free if we have to pay a £30 connection fee, they say) and "forever" (it's only "forever" as long as users are subscribed to the Carphone service). People have also written to the ad watchdog to question the lack of availability of the service (it will only be available to 70 per cent of the population at that price). So far the ASA has received around a dozen complaints, although new ones are being filed every day. A spokesman for the ASA told El Reg that a decision on whether to launch a formal investigation into the complaints would be taken in the next couple of days. A spokeswoman for Carphone said the firm had not been contacted by the ASA over its ads but that the firm had been "as transparent as possible" over its advertising and marketing. ®
Tim Richardson, 20 Apr 2006

Woman builds house from scrap 747

A California woman who owns a 55-acre property in Malibu and was looking to build a "curvilinear/feminine" property from which to enjoy the views, has decided to knock the whole thing up from bits of an old Boeing 747. That's the bold plan of her architects Syndesis, Inc, self-described as "innovators whose work crosses established boundaries to stake out new imaginative territories with an orientation towards the future", and who proposed acquiring an entire Jumbo and using every component of it, "like the Native American Indians used every part of the buffalo". By the time Francie Rehwald - whose family owns one of California's biggest Merc dealerships - moves into her new gaff, her wallet will be several million dollars lighter, the BBC reckons. The second-hand aircraft alone set Rehwald back $100,000 before architect David Hertz even got stuck in with the tin-opener and snips. One 2,500sqft 747 wing, Hertz says, provides the "ideal configuration to maximise the views and provide a self supporting roof with minimal additional structural support needed". "The floating roofs will derive simple support from steel brace frames, which will attach to strategic mounting points on the wing where the engines were previously mounted. Frameless, structural self-supporting glass will create the enclosure from the concrete slab on grade into the wing as roof." In total, Hertz is looking to recycle the aircraft's 4.5m components as an "extreme example of sustainable reuse and appropriation". He notes: "American consumers and industry throw away enough aluminium in a year to rebuild our entire aeroplane commercial fleet every three months." Naturally, the powers that be have chipped in their two bits' worth on the matter. According to the Beeb, "[Rehwald] has been asked by the civil aviation authorities to mark the elements of the plane visible from the sky to show that they are not part of a crashed aircraft". ®
Lester Haines, 20 Apr 2006

Sony cuts US PS2 price to $130

Sony has cut the price of the PlayStation 2 to $130 in the US and CAD140 north of the border, the consumer electronics giant announced today. The move was forecast last week as an attempt to boost demand for the PS2 in the run-up to the launch of its successor in November.
Tony Smith, 20 Apr 2006

420: the new number of the beast

The police team assembling Britain's national Auto Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) database have got some interesting results in. Making the use of ANPR computers that spook traffic using roadside CCTV cameras, police in the UK made 420 arrests a week in January. Then again in February, the combined efforts of 43 British police forces nabbed 420 criminals a week using ANPR. John Dean, the national ANPR co-ordinator for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), says the February figures are preliminary. Nevertheless, these figures are very odd indeed. Those 420 arrests a week are the latest results from stage three of ACPO's "Laser" ANPR project, which involved the use of ANPR by all Britain's 43 police forces. As it happens, the Laser two pilot, in which 23 police forces used ANPR for a year to the summer of 2004, reported that one car in every 420 stopped by the ANPR team was a stolen car containing stolen goods. This is where it gets spooky. In February last year, 420 people were "accurately" stopped by Metropolitan police ANPR in London (civil libertarians might want to note that 3,318 more people were mistakenly stopped by police after they were falsely identified by the system). While in the City of London, Operation Daimon, using a "mobile ANPR vehicle" over two days in August 2004, "produced 420 hits" (pdf) out of the 6,900 registration plates it read. As it happens, the growth of the network of CCTV cameras in Wales has been justified numerous times on a flimsy bit of evidence that over 12 months to May 2004, cameras in Brynmawr, Blaina, and Abertillery recorded 420 "incidents", an unspecified number of which led to convictions. That's quite a coincidence, because the Crime Reduction Programme (CRP), through which, amongst other things, the British government funded the growth of the world's largest CCTV network, had a total budget of £420m. If this doesn't get your conspiracy alarm bells ringing, you need to smoke some more pot. Then note that most modern CCTV cameras have a 420 line resolution. Take another lug, and let's get back to the mystical powers the number 420 endows on those who wield power. The Stonehenge People's Free Festival beloved of druids, hippies and peacenik crusties in the late 70s had its last summer solstice party in 1985, when police broke it up and apparently arrested 420 revellers at the legendary Battle of Beanfield. 420 is quite clearly a number not to be associated with CCTV alone. It has the ring of freedom about it, used as it is by old American freaks and younger counter-culture types as a loose reference to the act of smoking pot and the attitude of smokers - 420 means "good times". This despite the fact that, as the Americans would arrange it, Adolf Hitler was born on 4/20, or 20 April. Take, for example, biometrics, the 420 prisoners who were left wandering relatively freely around a high security jail for a month after the biometrically-controlled locks failed and wardens failed to notice. Yet, 420 appears so regularly in the official statistics in the defence of things that would restrict your freedom, and among matters of interest to conspiracy theorists it has you a jumpin' and a startin' like you been toking big lugs on a joint made of Amsterdam's finest skunk weed. Take, for example, the British government's case for introducing biometric identity cards. Among the evidence was the total of financial losses attributed to plastic card fraud in 2002, which totalled £420m. Or referenced for the same purpose, the total losses to plastic card issuers in 2003, a similar amount, from transactions totalling £420bn. Californian law SB 420, by the way, imposed ID Cards on those people who wanted to use marijuana for medical purposes. But that was just a decoy to lull you into a false sense of reality. Let it go...Oxford Research Group found in 2001 that the UK government spends around £420m annually to subsidise the arms trade. The basic budget for fiscal 2005 military spending in Iraq was £420bn. 420 seconds was supposed to be the amount of time president Bush took to respond after he was told of the terrorist attacks on 11 September. Flight 77 is supposed to have outran 420 supersonic fighter jets before hitting the Pentagon. On 14 September, the House of Representatives voted 420 to 1 to give Bush "all means necessary" in pursuit of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, which gave him the means to attack Iraq, which had no links to the attacks. On 21 September, the Hearing on Aviation Security and the Future of the Aviation Industry learned that "about $420m" would be spent on explosive detection systems for airports. On 27 September, the president announced a plan to up security at the US' 420 commercial passenger airports. Page 420 of the 9/11 Commission report of July 2004 noted that as the intelligence services are useless, someone should keep a close eye on them. After failing to spot the 9/11 attacks (conspiracy theorists go a little further than that, as this former intelligence agent reckons), and rolling us a pack of reefers in support of the invasion of Iraq, can they be trusted to keep their hands off a society managed by intense surveillance and powerful identity laws? We need to call in an independent advisor to help us look at this, because we are clearly getting carried away with this whole conspiracy lark. How about some divine intervention? Legend has it that Buddha, in defence of a holy man who was getting hassled by some nosy neighbours, read verse 420 of the Dhammapada, which when paraphrased says, "there's only one person who knows how righteous you are, and that's you dude; anyone else, including God, can keep their nose out". 420bc, incidentally, is a year thought by scholars to be a strong contender for the year in which the Buddha died. It was also the year in which the Chinese Emperor Gong, the last of the Jin dynasty, died at the hands of an evil mandarin's treachery, leaving behind a legacy that led to a flowering of Chinese Buddhism. Gong is also the planet where the pothead pixies live, as recounted by the space-rocking stoner band of the same name. It is worth noting at this point that psychedelic godfather Alfred Hofmann was supposed to have come up on his first LSD trip at 4.20 in the afternoon. Pot and LSD are not a combination that should be administered to conspiracy theorists, which is why we're now onto the Bible's book of Revelations. And Satan has quite a big part to play in Revelations, which is why we're taking the liberty of reading it backwards: Revelations 20:4 (in the British date format) talks of the mark of the beast. RFID bar codes tracked by intelligence services using CCTV cameras anyone? Time to come down, with a thud. United Nations Security Council Resolution 420 was a repetition in 1973 of earlier resolutions intended to make the Israelis pull out of occupied Palestinian territories and 'let their people go'. It harks back, via earlier resolutions, to Resolution 242, implemented at the end of the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israeli forces took the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. By the time of Resolution 420, 42 Israeli settlements had been built in the occupied territories in defiance of the UN. The West Bank barrier, the middle-East equivalent of the Berlin wall, is 420 miles long. Resolution 242 called for all states to adhere to Article 2 of the UN Charter, which recognised the importance of sovereignty and allowing every state its right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force. It was written in the aftermath of the second world war in the vain hope it would stop hawkish leaders from invading other countries on the flimsiest of evidence. Last September, 60 years after the UN charter, in the run up to the first Palestinian elections the Israelis spent a week assaulting targets allied to Hamas, the party that subsequently won the election. They arrested 420 Palestinians from their most wanted list, reported The Guardian newspaper. Are those building the surveillance state hawks too? Is your personal sovereignty safe from invasion by the powers that be? British police have justified their apprehension of anybody they catch using ANPR who just happens to have a minor driving offence listed against them with the following statement: "Research indicates that minor traffic offenders are both more likely to commit serious traffic offences and be involved in other types of criminality. By focusing enforcement on these offenders, these technologies help to enable an intelligence-led approach to roads policing. Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is a particularly significant example of this strategy and is viewed by many to be among the most important new policing technologies." (Reference). It is a defence you will hear again and again in justification of the use of surveillance to restrict people's freedoms. Like, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear". If you do fear, don't worry. Cash'n'Carrion will provide you with a shiny new tin foil hat - just £420 each.®
Mark Ballard, 20 Apr 2006
Cat 5 cable

Linux team tells VMware and Xen to get their acts together

A battle as to how Linux will handle future virtualization software from the likes of VMware and Xen has moved from a war of words to a war of indecision. The major parties involved - including Linux kernel maintainers - agree that a compromise over the virtualization interface must be reached, but no one seems to know exactly how to achieve this goal.
Ashlee Vance, 20 Apr 2006

Skype uses peer pressure defense to explain China text censorship

VoIP firm Skype has admitted that its Chinese partner filters instant messages sent using its software to comply with local censorship laws. Tom Online, Skype's joint venture partner in China, has "implemented a text filter, which is what everyone else in that market is doing. Those are the regulations", Skype chief executive Niklas Zennstrom told the Financial Times. The technology blocks messages containing phrases such as "Falun Gong" and "Dalai Lama" to satisfy local laws. China, along with the US and Germany, are the three biggest markets for Skype in terms of active users of its free internet telephony service, so it's not entirely surprising that the eBay subsidiary has taken the same stance as Google and other US high tech firms in kowtowing to Beijing's demands. Yahoo! has been strongly criticised for handing over email data to the Chinese authorities that assisted in the prosecution and imprisonment of three dissidents. On Wednesday, pressure group Reporters Without Borders highlighted the case of Jiang Lijun, 39, who was jailed on subversion charges for four years in November 2003. The evidence against Jiang reportedly came in the form of draft emails stored in his Yahoo! account, which the internet giant's Hong Kong subsidiary handed over to prosecutors. Zennstrom said the censorship actions of Tom Online avoided putting Chinese users of Skype at similar risk. "Those things are in no way jeopardising the privacy or the security of any of the users," he said. ®
John Leyden, 20 Apr 2006
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EMC turns to storage of all things for Q1 growth

EMC produced another workmanlike effort in its first quarter, hiking revenue by 14 per cent and enjoying unusually strong hardware sales. The big daddy of storage brought in $2.55bn during the first quarter, which compares to $2.24bn reported in the same period last year. Such double-digit percentage gains in revenue have become a tradition at EMC. Much of the past success stems from EMC's growing software businesses, although the core hardware line did most of the dirty work this quarter. "The power of our balanced, solutions-focused business model is evident," said EMC CEO Joe Tucci. "Our sustained focus on information lifecycle management (ILM) and expanding portfolio of best-in-class products and services enabled us to deliver double-digit revenue growth for the 11th quarter in a row." EMC also posted a $273m profit during the quarter, which compares with last year's profit of $182m, when the results are normalized for EMC's stock option expenses this year. The company's hardware business grew 20 per cent during the quarter to $1.23bn - the biggest gain in more than two years. Much of the growth came from EMC's new Symmetrix DMX-3 family of systems. Software revenue rose 11 per cent to $925m, and services revenue grew 6 per cent to $396m. The VMware subsidiary was once again the star of the software group with revenue rising 64 per cent to $131m. We still can't help but wonder when EMC will spinoff VMware and reward shareholders. EMC expects second quarter revenue to be at least $2.66bn. ®
Ashlee Vance, 20 Apr 2006

Vulture chases Marathon runner round London

Money for runnin'Money for runnin' Reg readers are known to be a rippingly fit bunch. It must be all those 18 hour coding shifts followed by intense re-hydration at Ye Olde Cat and Mouse, not to mention those high-fibre, high-protein pizza shakes. So we’re sure you’ll want to take part in this year’s London Marathon and help a great charity – and you won’t even have to strain yourselves doing up your trainers. No indeed. Instead, Diana Rockman will be doing the legwork and raising buckets of cash for Cancer Research UK to boot. All you need to need to do is go to here, tap in your details, and help bump up Diana’s sponsorship total. And, if you’re up early enough on Sunday you can watch Diana flying round all 26 miles – just watch out for the natty Reg baseball cap she’ll be wearing. Interactivity? We’ve heard of it.®
Team Register, 20 Apr 2006

HD DVD to outsell Blu-ray 2.5:1 in 2006 - report

HD DVD will have taken almost 70 per cent of the high-definition media market by the end of the year, leaving rival format Blu-ray Disc with a market share of just 30 per cent. So claimed market watcher ABI Research this week, though it warned the picture may change in 2007.
Tony Smith, 20 Apr 2006
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HP recalls 15,700 notebook batteries

HP has asked 15,700 customers around the world to send back their HP- or Compaq-branded notebook batteries or risk the potentially faulty power packs overheating and catching fire. The recall comes six months after the company made a similar request for the return of certain laptop batteries.
Tony Smith, 20 Apr 2006
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Red Hat CEO likens Oracle to US car manufacturer

Red Hat chief executive Matthew Szulik has added his voice to the growing stream of rebuttals to Larry Ellison's comments about buying Novell and "owning" Linux. In an open letter to the Financial Times, Szulik criticized the 30-year track record of companies like Oracle in their treatment of customers and signed off essentially saying the days of closed-source software vendors are numbered. Open source and Linux have unleashed a "new competitive period" replacing "the proprietary walled gardens of software vendors," Szulik said. Closed source software companies have taken customers for granted during the last 30 years, he observed. Szulik's letter came five days after the FT quoted Ellison saying he'd evaluated buying struggling Novell to "control a full stack" in an interview that swiped seven per cent from Red Hat's share price on Monday and prompted Wall St to re-assess the future of the fast-growing Red Hat. Goldman Sachs said Ellison's comments "confirm our concern that Oracle now views Red Hat as a competitor" and the situation could lead to more aggressive pricing. Ellison caused consternation when he said Red Hat's purchase of open source middleware provider JBoss puts Red Hat in competition with his company and IBM. Ellison told the FT, Oracle and IBM would have to re-assess their partnerships with Red Hat. For its part, IBM is taking a less inflammatory approach, even rebutting Ellison's words. Scott Handy, IBM's vice president of Linux and open source, reportedly said the deal does not change IBM's relationship with Red Hat substantially. "Lets not be confused. We all sit on the same side of the fence: all Java is good, all standards are good. When you look at the bigger ecosystem battle going on which is [Microsoft] .NET versus open, it's all goodness," Handy said. Handy added IBM would remain loyal to its strategy of supporting dual Linux distributions, even if Oracle bought Novell. Red Hat's Szulik, though, was on the velvet-tongued warpath on Thursday. Szulik compared the US software industry to the moribund US auto industry, with open source companies like Red Hat cast in the role of Japanese carmakers challenging the establishment on innovation and commitment to customers. "The US automotive industry is a good case study, in comparison to the state of the domestic US software industry," Szulik wrote. He went on: "I believe the technology industry has entered an era where the customer, an asset taken for granted by many technology companies during the past 30 years, has moved front and center in the internet. The absence of lock-in due to open source software has created a new competitive period where innovation and value added replaces the lack of alternatives created by the proprietary walled gardens of software vendors." The planned acquisition of JBoss would create an opportunity for Red Hat to grow through "independence, clearly focused on creating value through the collaborative process of open source software development," Szulik said. ®
Gavin Clarke, 20 Apr 2006

Google sends mixed messages on China jackpot

Google shrugged off the gloom that followed its previous earnings statement with a strong first quarter. The advertising monster reported a profit of $592m for Q1 2006. That's up from the $372m reported in January, which caused $18bn to be wiped off Google's value. Gross revenue climbed 79 per cent to $2.25bn, up from $1.26bn a year ago and up 17 per cent sequentially. Traffic Acquisition Costs on Google's Adsense program increased overall, but more importantly, declined as an overall percentage of Google revenue, down from 33 per cent to 32 per cent, or $723m. Advertising on Google's own properties, which unlike Adsense is pure profit, edged up a percentage point to 58 per cent of Google's earnings. On the news of the earnings, and the official settlement of two click fraud suits, Google's stock climbed $28.25 to $443.25 on after hours trading. eBay found itself clobbered today for its earnings forecast. Google doesn't do earnings forecasts. But the one tidbit Google threw analysts quickly boomeranged on the company. CEO Eric Schmidt told analysts he thought "China is up for grabs", a view contradicted by Sergey Brin in a New York Times magazine feature to be published this weekend. "Revenue, Brin told me, wasn't a big part of the equation," the Times reports. "He said he thought it would be years before Google would make much if any profit in China. In fact, he argued, going into China 'wasn't as much a business decision as a decision about getting people information.'" Who'd have guessed? ®
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Apr 2006