Would you adam and eve it? People who work in IT sales in the south of England earn 20 per cent more than the average, according to a tally of those who have been placed by Robson Taylor, a small recruitment consultant. The further north you go, the less money you earn. The average earnings of someone on Robson Taylor's books is £47,000. Scots get paid 18 per cent less than the average. ®
A US worker, dismissed over allegations that he spent his time at work listening to his iPod and making personal calls instead of building business, is being sued by his former employer for lost profits. US Card Partner Services is seeking $90,000 in pay in addition to $210,000 in lost income from Drew Scopelliti, a former sales director at the card affinity firm prior to his dismissal last July. According to the lawsuit, Scopelliti faked the qualifications on his CV in order to get hired, and then spent his time at work making personal calls and generally goofing about. Paul Regan, associate professor at Widener University School of Law, told Delaware Online the lawsuit represents an aggressive - but plausible - application of contract law. He did warn, however, that irrespective of the validity of its claims, US Card Partner Services was likely to spend as much if not more on legal fees than it managed to claw back from Scopelliti. Scopelliti, 44, was hired in December 2004 and put in charge of marketing affinity cards to schools. US Card Partner Services fired Scopelliti eight months later over allegations he failed to do his job properly prior to launching its aggressive lawsuit. There's no suggestion that any more serious wrongdoing was involved. A lawyer acting on behalf of Scopelliti said his client intended to vigorously defend himself against his former employer's legal assault. ®
The number of complaints about dodgy premium rate services (PRS) is still on the slide, according to industry regulator ICSTIS. In the six months to March, ICSTIS registered a significant tail-off in complaints about quiz TV services and a 62 per cent drop in complaints about services on mobile short codes. All in all, the number of complaints about all PRS services fell 53 per cent over the last six months. This is "good news for consumers and good news for the industry", ICSTIS boss George Kidd said. "We've forged closer and better working relationships with the industry and this, combined with our continued targeted enforcement action, has allowed us to prevent consumer harm more effectively and ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to deal with new products and services," he said. ICSTIS reckons more than £1.6bn will be spent on premium rate services in the coming year - almost £35 by every adult in the UK. ®
Human navel gazing probably started with the Neanderthals 50,000 years ago and hasn’t stopped since. Our belly button does not heal over because there is nothing between it and our stomach except a few thin layers of skin. The belly button is merely scar tissue of the umbilical cord where the cord has detached following birth. It is of no medical significance. Therefore, medical and anatomy texts pay it little or no attention. Nevertheless, any animal that has been nourished in the womb must have a belly button, although it may not always be easily seen. According to Dr Edward Feldman of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis, "the scarring may be less obvious in some animals than in others, especially if it is covered by fur". Where does belly button fuzz come from? Belly button fuzz (or lint) comes from the clothes you wear. Some fabrics shed more than others. Some shapes of belly buttons are better collectors. A hairy belly button will collect fuzz better than a hairless one. What is behind my belly button? According to the punch line of an old joke: "If you unscrew your belly button, your bottom falls off." In reality, the umbilical vein comes from the afterbirth or placenta, which carries blood enriched with oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby. The umbilical vein runs from the navel to the fetal liver and through a bypass vessel (the ducted venosus) to the fetal heart. After birth, the umbilical vein remains open for a time, but soon afterwards it closes and shrivels up to become a fibrous cord. It crosses the abdominal cavity in a fold of the abdominal wall lining forming the round ligament (the ligamentum teres). Sometimes things don't close as they should and an umbilical hernia develops. Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to email@example.com
Book reviewBook review Everything is software. Increasingly, the devices we live by (whether routers and switches, or just DVD recorders and music systems) are computers running specialised embedded software. This is generally known as "convergence", which is a term usually used in the context of VoIP telephony, although this is just a small part of the whole picture.
I was over half an hour late for Borland's Developer Studio Roadshow, despite leaving plenty of time (I thought) for the trip across London - signal failure outside Slough; more signal failures on the Underground at Baker St. This is getting so normal that I start to suspect process failure. A process which might regard symptoms as more important than causes, which might institutionalise underinvestment resulting in little preventative maintenance - and (which really hurts) a process that doesn't penalise poor service because I still have to pay almost £100 for the return trip even if the trains fail to meet their SLA, I have a miserable overcrowded trip and arrive late. Me, titter and bwisted? This is on-topic, honest, because addressing process improvement rather than individual symptoms of failure is what the new (slimmed down) Borland is all about. But there's another Borland, run by developers (like David Intersimone, known as DavidI), and for developers. This is all about neat languages and cutting better code more efficiently than the competition. This Borland is still alive and well, according to David I and Jason Vokes and they do talk about DevCo (this may be a placeholder name; as I said, my train was late, so I may have missed some caveats). Yes. Borland is selling it off, but (it claims) it's more of a spin-off, with VC investment, than a sale of the crown jewels to Borland’s rivals in the IDE space.
Novell has been juggling the numbers in its latest effort to gain a toehold on business desktops against Microsoft's Office and integrated server software. The company, struggling to pull itself clear of a first-quarter slump in net income and falling software licensing revenue, claimed customers running the Novell Open Workgroup Suite can save up to 70 per cent of the cost of running a "similar" desktop-to-server package from Microsoft. Open Workgroup Suite, launched Tuesday, consists of Novell's Open Enterprise Server, GroupWise, ZenWorks, Novell Linux Desktop and OpenOffice.org for Windows and Linux. Novell did not say what "similar" Microsoft software Open Workgroup Suite replaced; however, the company appears to be targeting Microsoft from a licensing perspective. Pricing for Novell's desktop and server package starts at $80 per year to rent or $110 per user or device for a perpetual license for the Linux edition, while a cross-platform version of the software is priced at $150 per user or device. That compares to Microsoft's Enterprise Agreement for volume customers at $289 per desktop per year under a three-year contract, and totaling $216,750 in a 250-user organization. The package is designed to attract mid-market companies where Novell has been considered lacking, and follows a server deal with IBM targeting small and mid-market businesses. Microsoft defines the mid-market as companies with between 25 and 500 PCs, while Novell said the Open Workgroup Suite replaces its previous Small Business Suite and Linux Small Business Suite. ®
Cisco chief executive John Chambers said the networking giant had beaten expectations for the third quarter, ending 29 April 2006, but it isn't increasing estimates for the current quarter. The firm sold $7.3bn worth of kit in the the quarter and made a profit of $1.4bn - including the costs of staff share options. This was about the same as profits same time last year, when options were not expensed. Revenue grew 12 per cent year-on-year excluding the impact of the $6.9bn purchase of Scientific-Atlanta. Chambers is bulllish about the progress made in integrating the firm. He said it was a strong quarter, especially in the US. Sales in Europe were slightly weaker and Japan showed "signs of flattening". Sales in US and Canada account 52 per cent of Cisco's business. Emerging markets, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa, and Russia make up only 10 per cent of Cisco's total business, but grew at 30 per cent compared with the year before. Chambers said: "Our success in the emerging markets is exceeding even our own optimistic expectations." More from Cisco here. ®
Google has been sued by Nassau County Legislator Jeffrey Toback who claims the search giant is promoting and profiting from child pornography, going so far as to suggest that child porn is part of its business model, according to reports. Newsday reports that Toback filed his lawsuit with the Nassau State Supreme Court as a private citizen, with no county funds. It claims that Google "makes its money, in part by facilitating deviant criminals in the procurement, transfer and marketing of illicit and patently illegal material, including child pornography and other obscenity that is banned under federal and state law". OUT-LAW has not had sight of the complaint, but the crux of it appears to be that sites hosting illegal material are found by searching on Google and even advertised through sponsored links from which Google makes money. ZD Net quotes Google spokesman Steve Langdon who explained Google's policy to remove child pornography from Google's products, including its search engine, upon finding or being made aware of it. This approach is consistent with both US law and UK law. In short, search engines are not obliged to actively police the content to which they provide access; but they must respond quickly when they receive notice of illegal material. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
CommentComment It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when the mainstream press was barely acquainted with the genius and foresight of today's technology leaders.
Just 19 per cent of US internet gamblers realise – or are willing to admit – that the activity is currently illegal, according to a survey carried out for the American Gaming Association AGA. The results also show that the number of online gamblers doubled in 2005. The typical US internet gambler is under 40, college-educated, male, and more affluent than his fellow citizens, according to results, published this week. About four percent of the US population gambled online in 2005, according to Reuters. The poll of internet gamblers was conducted by Peter D Hart Research Associates. Seventy per cent of respondents started gambling online within the past two years. And while internet gamblers in the US say they enjoy online gambling for its convenience, more than half (55 per cent) believe online gaming companies find ways to cheat, and 46 per cent believe their fellow players cheat. AGA president and CEO Frank Fahrenkopf Jr said: "Even though our member companies currently aren't involved in the online gaming market, and the overall percentage of Americans who gamble online is relatively small, there's no doubt this issue has captured the attention of the media, members of Congress, and the American public." Last year, the 455 commercial casinos in 11 states generated $30.29bn in gross gaming revenue, representing an increase of nearly five per cent over 2004 revenue totals. Spending in Las Vegas surpassed $6bn. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
NASA has made public some truly splendid hi-res snaps of planet Earth - lovingly cobbled together from a "a collection of satellite-based observations": Impressive stuff. Here's the accompanying blurb: This spectacular "blue marble" image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualisers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometre (.386 square mile) of our planet. These images are freely available to educators, scientists, museums, and the public. This record includes preview images and links to full resolution versions up to 21,600 pixels across. Most of the info in the pictures comes from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS to its mates, which is currently peering down on us from 700km up aboard the Terra satellite. The results are indeed spectacular, as this larger view (2048 x 2048, 579.4KB jpeg) of the western hemisphere shows. The full catalogue can be found here. ®
Monday, 15 May will see the official debut Nvidia's GeForce 7300 GT graphics chip, which ups the 7300 series from a 64-bit memory bus to 128-bit, as per the 7600 series, an online report claimed today.
Vodafone customers will shortly be able to gamble on their phones thanks to a deal with Gaming Corporation - the owners of gambling.com and casino.co.uk. The service will launch with 11 games, including blackjack, roulette, stud poker, slot machines, and scratch cards. The games will be age-restricted using Vodafone's Content Control system. Player deposits will be limited to valid credit card transactions. The company will set maximum daily bets per player and offer advice on cash gambling to encourage responsible use. Revenue from the service will be divided between Vodafone and Gaming Corp. More here. ®
Nokia today unveiled its first handset with "athletic lifestyle appeal" and the first - we'd say - to be made out of trainers. We kid you not - according to Nokia, the 5500 Sport "is engineered with materials used in the latest high performance running shoes".
District Judge Evans has given the go ahead for the extradition of alleged Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon to the United States. The Judge said he was satisfied that the extradition would be compatible with McKinnon’s convention rights. The case will now be considered by the Home Secretary. The Judge said he was satisfied that on the reassurances given by the US attorney and government, McKinnon would not face charges that could see him end up in Guantanamo Bay. McKinnon is accused of causing damage to US military and NASA computers during the course of a hacking spree he allegedly conducted in search of evidence that the government was in possession of alien technology salvaged from wrecked UFOs. He feared that he would face tough US anti-terrorist charges if he were extradited. The US had provided written assurances that though he would be tried as someone who had tried to "endanger the public safety" by "causing harm to the US government", he would not be tried as a terrorist. He was never given the Presidential waiver that his defence team said would be the only sure way to avoid prosecution as a terrorist. However, Judge Evans maintained that the US was unlikely to break written assurances given in honour of a 100 year old extradition agreement with Britain. John Reid, the Home Secretary, will now decide whether to extradite McKinnon in consideration of the statement made by Judge Evans. McKinnon will argue that the US can't be trusted to handle his case fairly. If that fails he will take his case to the High Court. In a statement given outside the court, McKinnon’s team argued, "If extradited for offences which could readily be subjected to Military Order No. 1 and detained indefinitely without trial or effective remedy in the US and that his human rights would be substantially infringed, quite apart from his vulnerability, if tried in the US domestic courts, to a prison sentence wholly disproportionate to his crimes." McKinnon has been processed under controversial extradition laws that give the United States the unreciprocated power to have people extradited without having to provide prima facie evidence. He claimed to have not damaged information stored on the computers he broke into over an old fashioned 56K modem connection over 2001 and 2002. He was in search of information that would prove a conspiracy put about by the The Disclosure Project, which claims to have witness testimonies from military and intelligence personnel that tell how anti-gravity and free energy devices have already been gleaned from crashed alien ships. McKinnon has claimed he wanted to unearth the secrets for the benefit of mankind: "Old-age pensioners can't pay their fuel bills, countries are invaded to award oil contracts to the West, and meanwhile secretive parts of the secret government are sitting on suppressed technology for free energy," he said in an interview with the BBC last Friday. He said he was caught while viewing on a NASA computer what he believed to be an image of a UFO that had been erased from a satellite image - something that is supposedly done routinely at building eight of NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Texas.®
This just in from the department of the fairly bleedin' obvious: US boffins have discovered that women find men who like kids more attractive as potential long-term mates. They are, however, more likely to go weak at the knees for guys with higher testoterone levels - at least if they're looking for a "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" short-term fling. The study, Reuters notes, probed 68 men and women. Thirty-nine male undergraduates were tested for testoterone levels, while their "affinity" for kids was gauged by showing them pictures of children and adults and asking them to "rate their interest". They were then photographed, and 29 female students asked to score the rogues' gallery according to "whether they thought they liked children, their masculinity, physical attractiveness, and potential as short and long-term partners". The upshot of it all was that "the women were able to choose the men who had expressed an interest in children during the photo test" while they "also described men who had high testosterone levels as being masculine". James Roney of the University of California explained: "Our data suggests that men's interest in children predicts their long-term mate attractiveness even after we account for how physically attractive the women rated the men." Study co-author Dario Maestripieri of the University of Chicago chipped in: "The study provides the first direct evidence that women's attractiveness judgments specifically track both men's affinity for children and men's hormone concentrations." The research - which will certainly delight weightlifting male kindergarten teachers - is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. ®
Totem Communications, a Manchester-based provider of inbound call handling services, is up for sale after Matthew Dunham and Dermot Power of BDO Stoy Hayward were appointed Joint Administrative Receivers last week. No one from BDO Stoy Hayward was available at the time of writing to say why they had been called in, but the firm seems confident that it can broker a quick sale. Totem Communications provides a range of inbound call handling services such as the provision of non-geographic numbers, recorded messages, 'virtual receptionists', and speech recognition to divert calls. Among the customers listed on its website are Bolton Wanderers football club, Gloucestershire NHS, and broadband ISP Pipex. The business has an annual turnover of around £15m and continues to trade while the hunt is on for a buyer. It also has "considerable intellectual property", according to BDO Stoy Hayward. Joint Administrative Receiver Dermot Power said: "There has been very strong interest in the company and approaches have already been made from other telecommunications businesses. "I remain optimistic of securing an early sale of the business and the positive response from the employees and the customer base will help the process further." ®
Microsoft will ship the external HD DVD drive for its Xbox 360 console in time for Christmas, the company said yesterday. However, the company failed to point out whether the unit will support the HDMI interface in its HDCP anti-piracy system.
The British Phonographic Industry- the UK's equivalent of the Recording Industry Ass. of America - is prepared to discuss the issue of personal CD ripping. Despite what most consumers believe, it is technically illegal for UK consumers to make copies of their own CDs. It is believed many within the BPI accept that this is a farcical legal situation, but fears over file-sharing - which the BPI has actively pursued - mean some are unwilling to allow CDs to be ripped onto computers as this could be seen as a first step to file-sharing. Reports suggested the BPI is offering full support to ending this anomaly, but a spokesman for the BPI told us the story related to submissions made to the Gowers Review - a government probe into wider intellectual property issues. He said the BPI was open to discussion on the issue. BPI spokesman Matt Philips said: "Our submission to the Gowers Review does not say that the law should be changed to allow private copying. The submission states that we are willing to explore options to clarify what behaviour should be deemed acceptable for the consumer. "We look forward to having that discussion with the Gowers team, and to reaching a framework which protects copyright effectively and allows consumers to take advantage of new technology fairly." The review, headed by ex-FT editor Andrew Gowers, is collecting evidence until 21 April 2006. Its report will be presented to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the autumn. ®
The upcoming World Cup is providing a fillip for the sale of electrical goods as fans prepare to settle down and watch the event on brand spanking new high definition and flat screen TVs. So says DSG International, the electrical retailer formerly known as Dixons, which reported that its UK business delivered a "satisfactory trading performance over the year, given a difficult retail environment in the UK". "Looking ahead, we expect strong sales of digital products to continue at least through the period leading up to the World Cup," DSG boss John Clare said. This prediction came as like-for-like sales in DSG's electricals division for the year to April rose four per cent, with spikes seen in Ireland and Europe boosted by sales of TVs, MP3 players and iPods, laptops, and satellite navigation gear. Overall, though, DSG reported no increase in like-for-like sales for the whole group over the last 12 months as improvements elsewhere in the business were offset by continued poor performance at DSG's mobile phone outlet The Link. Despite this, the firm expects the full year underlying profit before tax will be ahead of current market expectations between £312m and £318m. ®
Sony will this month ship its third attempt at a Walkman-oriented iTunes-style music management application that will hopefully solve the problems users have experienced with its Connect Player 1.0 software. It also adds support for the iPod-friendly AAC music format.
Tech DigestTech Digest Just when you thought you knew all about mobile TV, along comes yet another platform. After DVB-H and DMB comes MediaFLO, an innovation from Qualcomm, the US company best known for making chips for 3G handsets. Yesterday it confirmed a deal with BSkyB to trial the system in the UK in the summer. We caught up with MediaFLO International senior director Omar Javaid, who gave us the background to the deal. The Sky deal seems to have been a bit of a bolt from the blue. Is that the case? Not really, we have been working on it for a while. Sky is a progressive company that’s very keen on emerging platforms. We are obviously keen on globally establishing MediaFLO too. We have deals in the US with Verizon to launch MediaFLO USA in Q4 this year and we are keen to expand into Europe. Is the deal exclusive? Sky wasn’t part of the DVB-H trial. Not for either party. We can trial the system with other partners and Sky can experiment with other platforms. How will the trial work? Well, it is a technical trial, but that means we are going to be testing the services using real world mobile phone handsets. It will run in Cambridge in the summer of 2006 and we are keen to see how MediaFLO works with Sky. If it is successful, how quickly could you launch a service in the UK? The UK is an attractive market for us as the regulatory environment is very favourable. So if all goes well we could launch relatively quickly. What are the key differences between MediaFLO and rival systems like the Nokia backed DVB-H? There are a couple of key advantages. As MediaFLO is built from the ground up for mobile, it has much faster channel switching time than its rivals. We can also offer up to 30 channels in QVGA standard at 25 frames per second, which is a good video standard from mobiles. Who is providing the handsets for the trial? We haven’t named them yet, though there are MediaFLO handsets available from eight partners, including Samsung, LG and Pantech. Do you think people from Europe will sample mobile TV in a different way than they do in the Asia and the USA? I think mobile TV across the world will be very popular. As for the different regions, I think trials like the one we are doing will help us find out. Lastly, it might sound daft, but how far are we away from HD on mobile phones? Well, you kind of have it already with MediaFLO in that the distance which a person watches from a handset coupled with the quality of the video is akin to a 1080i/p signal. Realistically though, it will be a while before we see true HD on mobiles. In the far east the high end standard screen on mobiles used to be QVGA, now it is VGA, though for true HD it will have to be at least XGA, so when we reach that standard we will start to see 1080i signals popping up on mobiles. So there you have it. Sky’s HD launch next week might be all about home TVs, but maybe the broadcaster is already sizing up the HD mobile market. Mmmm. Other stories Windows Live Beta Messenger now available for download Crystal encrusted high def TV - yeuch! How John Lennon invented the iPod Is Sky's loss of its Premiership exclusive bad news for HD? BBC announces more HD programming
Microsoft released three patches – two of which it deems critical - on Tuesday in the May edition of its regular Patch Tuesday update cycle. Most seriously there's a critical vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange which allows remote code execution (MS06-019). This security bug in Microsoft Exchange's calendar function could lead to a worm, security tools firm ISS warns. The flaw might be exploited by hackers by sending a specially crafted email message with malformed vCal or iCal properties to a vulnerable server. Administrators running either Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 servers need to apply patches. Microsoft also warns of a vulnerability in Adobe's Macromedia Flash Player that creates a means to run hostile code on Windows PCs. Adobe issued a patch for the vulnerability back in March, but Microsoft techies now reckon it merits its own patch (MS06-020). Last up, Redmond warns of a moderate risk flaw in Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator that can stop systems responding, thereby representing a denial of service risk. Microsoft's summary of these three updates can be found here. ®
Materials scientists have said water and wires could offer limitless storage. With the help of H2O, nanoscale ferroelectric effects will store binary information at unprecedented densities - they hope. The ferroelectric effect is where electrical poles are induced by applying an electrical field. The orientation of the poles can be flipped to encode data. Until now, a big problem for ferroelectric memory was the stability of the data because of problems dampening charges forming on the surface of the ferroelectric material. A team from Drexel and Pennsylvania universities says the answer unexpectedly comes from humble water*. They used barium titanium oxide nanowires 100,000 times finer than a human hair as the ferroelectric material. Hydroxl ions found in the wet stuff surrounded the wires, stabilising the orientation of the poles. The water-based method is more reliable than traditional metal electrode stabilisation. Research leader Dr Jonathan Spanier said: “It is astonishing to see that molecules enable a wire having a diameter equivalent to fewer than 10 atoms to act as a stable and switchable dipole memory element.” The potential of the effect for data storage has long been recognised, but the team says this new breakthrough makes the prospect more realistic. A cubic centimetre of ferroelectric memory could hold as much as 12.8m GB of data, they reckon. As well as unimaginably huge hard drive capacity, the technology offers the possiblity of RAM as fast as current silicon, that is not wiped when the computer is off. The next challenge is to find reliable ways of assembling the nanowires in packed arrays. As you might expect, industry is watching this field closely. Apparently, Spanier is in contact with “major semiconductor device manufacturers”. ® *Spanier et al. (2006) Ferroelectric Phase Transition in Individual Single-Crystalline BaTiO3 Nanowires. Nano Letters 6, 735-739.
Readers attempting to download Microsoft's new Windows Live Messenger Beta should be aware that they may not find themselves instantly enjoying the benefits of VoIP telephony, but rather caught in a brain-rattling paradox feedback loop, as reader Graham Smart discovered: Try not to think too hard about it, since mental trauma will most certainly result. As Graham put it before he succumbed to synaptic collapse: "Basically the NEW MSN installer wants you to close the MSN installer to install the MSN installer that wants you to close the MSN installer that installs the MSN inst……" ®
Dutch telecoms incumbent KPN has chosen LogicaCMG to take control of its HR and salary system for the next four years. After a short list of six candidates was drawn up, KPN picked Logica for its "fully integrated solution" as it "has been a reliable partner in the technical management of our current custom-made payroll applications for years". The homemade application for payroll for KPN's 20,000 staff runs on Oracle/Peoplesoft The contract is renewable once the four year period is up. Read the whole release here. ®
Just as word reaches us that JEDEC, the memory standards-setting organisation, has approved the Fully Buffered DIMM server memory system, RAM specialist Crucial UK said it had begun offering FB-DIMMs. We can see why: this stuff costs more than a top-of-the-range Itanic 2 processor.
South African-owned reseller Dimension Data increased turnover for the six months ended 31 March 2006 by over 15 per cent. Turnover grew by 15.9 per cent to $1.45bn and profits grew by 10.3 per cent to $299m. DiData CEO Brett Dawson said he was especially pleased with the company's increased market share for network integration because it is "at the centre of the convergence trend". He expects moves to put all voice and data onto single IP-based networks to continue. The company managed double digit growth everywhere except Europe. Revenue in Europe grew at just over 8 per cent, compared to 9.1 per cent in Africa, 11.9 per cent in Asia, 19.3 per cent in Australia and a whopping 43.4 per cent in the USA. DiData shares rose 2.2 per cent on the Johannesburg exchange but fell 2.8 per cent on the London Stock Exchange. Shares on both exchanges have risen strongly since January. More details from DiData here.®
Apple's eagerly anticpated MacBook announcement was canned at the eleventh hour to allow sufficient stocks of the consumer-oriented laptop to be available to buy from launch, it has been claimed.
Fasthosts - the Gloucestershire-based internet firm that brags that it's the "UK's number 1 web host " - is to be snapped up by German outfit United Internet AG. The all-cash takeover values Fasthosts at £61.5m. In a statement United Internet - which provides "premium" net services to home users and SMEs - is part of the firm's expansion plans in the UK. A spokeswoman for Fasthosts told El Reg that as far as the firm was concerned, it was "business as usual" and that customers would not be affected by the buyout. However, she declined to comment on the future on the 100 or so staff who work for Fasthosts and whether the take-over would result in any job losses. Last year United Internet generated sales of €801.5m and pre-tax profits of €101m. Fasthosts generated turnover of around £20m last year. The deal is expected to close in June. ®
Warning: The following article contains familiar words now redefined for the internet generation by addition of the "2.0" suffix, references to Wiki and the phrase "internet technology enablers". Those of a nervous disposition are advised to look away now. Anyone with 25 quid to spare and a penchant for the movies might be interested in investing in the Swarm of Angels project, which aims to knock together a £1m movie and give it away to one million people in a year - all via the net. Yup, we're talking the reinvention of the "Hollywood model of filmmaking to create cult cinema for the internet era" - aka "Cinema 2.0" - as project founder Matt Hanson puts it. The idea is simple enough: 50,000 netizens stump up £25 each to finance the film, thereby becoming angels in the virtual "Swarm". The process is: Fund the project. Call for collaborators. Publicise and create marketing materials. Gather the first 1,000 members. Develop the project and infrastructure. Start script development. Open the project up to more members. Film. Collaborate. Develop scripts using a 'wiki'. Crew through The Swarm. Funding drive for pre-production/production/post-production. Create marketing and final materials. Flow. Master materials. Create spin-off materials. Publicise. Burn. Upload. Seed. Download. View. Remix. Share. Simple. As. That. Hanson reckons sign-ups are currently over 100, and he's now pushing to reach the 1,000 angel mark. Which is all well and good, but what's the film actually about? On this subject, Hanson is a bit Vague 2.0™. Despite our best attempts to extract some detail, we were referred to the FAQs (further warning: may cause blindness in those sensitive to references to "bloggers", "creative commons", "copyfighters" and "Halo effect") which state: If it was already written and packaged, this media experiment wouldn't be as interesting. But I do have some loose parameters. The genre is likely to be thriller based with soft sci-fi elements. I will write and develop two scripts that the members of the Swarm can then dissect and improve upon (script doctor, and rewrite) via a wiki. They'll then be a vote on the script to go with. This is what we talk about when we say as a member of the Swarm you involved in MAJOR creative decisions. Those of you who are by now wondering whether 50,000 potential screenplay writers and editors is not a recipe for artistic Crash 2.0 and Burn 2.0 are reassured that Hanson himself will be behind the camera, and promises something "edgy, like the films of Darren Aronofsky, or Wong Kar-Wai". He further pledges: "This isn't going to be Billy Elliot or Calendar Girls..." - an assertion we wholeheartedly believe since we suspect the final script will be a sort of Bladerunner meets The Matrix with Natalie Portman and Carrie Anne Moss, either clad entirely in black leather or entirely unclad, battling virtual Empire Stormtroopers and Gigeresque dribbling aliens for control of Wikipedia. Time will tell. ®
South Korean company Kowon Technology today said it will next week ship pairs of personal TV glasses to local consumers concerned that too many of their fellows are peering over their shoulders at their mobile phone screens.
Matrix Communications chairman Alan Watkins has warned the company's shareholders that the firm could be sold, having received an unsolicited offer for the business. In February, Matrix sold its Equip business to Horizon so it could concentrate on sales. In a statement to the Stock Exchange, Watkins said: "In the last few weeks Matrix has received an unsolicited offer to acquire its integration businesses from an international trade buyer with minimal UK presence. These businesses, which exclude the Fujin mobile content filtering business, are the main sources of revenue and profit for the Matrix Communications Group, and in the year to 31 October 2005 had proforma revenue of £35.2m and operating profit contribution of £4.1m." Watkins said discussions are still underway, and may come to nothing, but the deal had "considerable industrial logic". Watkins also updated on Matrix trading and, although overall the firm is on target, there are problems with its mobile porn blocker Fujin. According to the statement, business was down because of slower than expected take up of services by Vodafone. The firm also announced Matthew Darling and Michael Frank are leaving the board of directors. Read the whole statement here. ®
Spanish-owned O2 has lost a £100m a year roaming contract with video phone outfit 3. O2 - which is now owned by Telefonica after an £18bn buyout last year - has been providing extra mobile phone coverage for 3 since the 3G service was launched in 2003. Today, though, the Hutchison-owned mobile outfit announced it had awarded the roaming deal to Orange following an auction for the new contract. As part of the deal, there will be a transition period at the end of the year before Orange takes over completely in 2007. 3's network covers around 88 per cent of the UK population and hooks up with a roaming partner to fill the gaps. The deal with Orange, which boasts 99 per cent coverage, means that 3 punters will be able to use voice and text services almost everywhere in the UK. Financial details of the deal were not released today although analysts have said it's worth around £100m a year. Recent reports named O2 as favourite to retain the contract. But in a statement today, 3 said: "Orange tendered the most competitive bid for the supply of voice, text and data services and has been selected as the preferred national roaming provider for 3 from the end of 2006." ®
Alienware got the drop on its rivals this week, showing off this week what it and chip maker Nvidia claim is the world's first "available" notebook equipped with two GeForce Go 7900 GPUs rigged to run co-operatively in SLI mode.
Symantec has done some wholesale rebundling and rebranding of the Veritas product portfoilio it acquired last year. Symantec Data Centre Foundation pulls together Veritas Storage Foundation, Veritas Server Foundation and, crucially, Veritas' NetBackup. The flagship recovery software hasn't been part of an all-in package like this before. Symantec Data Centre SVP Kris Hagerman wheezed: "[Data Centre Foundation] gives customers the best of both worlds -- the ability to standardize on a single infrastructure software platform across their entire data center, while leveraging product offerings that are each best-in-class." The move is aimed at getting customers to standardise more of their data centre on Symantec software, and so increase sales. The announcement blitz also includes Veritas Storage Foundation suite reaching its fifth incarnation, which Symantec says offers better virtualisation and simplicity for managers. The "Foundation" brand is being slapped on the firm's suite of server tools too. Veritas Server Foundation features "Veritas Configuration Manager and Veritas Provisioning Manager complemented by new features in Veritas Cluster Server", apparently.®
Large UK firms are wasting some £61m a year on needless electricity by not better managing their desktop computers, according to new research from IT services firm Computacenter and Fujitsu Siemens Computers. The research looked at 200 listed companies to see how much they could save by buying lovely, energy efficient desktop computers from a company like Computacenter, or maybe Fujitsu Siemens, co-funders of the survey. Each company could save more than £300,000 by switching off machines over night or using greener machines. IT departments can install software to automatically switch off idle machines. Fujitsu says 37 per cent of UK workers leave their computers on over night, which costs British business £127m a year. A firm with 100 PCs could save £4,685 by simply switching them off while they're not in the office - Fujitsu has a nifty calculator here. More details available here. ®
Korea's Mio appears to be on something of a roll, design-wise at least. After the rather natty looking - if functionally frustrating - A701 GPS-integrating smart phone comes the equally stylish C810 portable media player, again with GPS built in. The company this week said the device will ship in its native country later this month.
Into the ValleyInto the Valley AMD has enjoyed a magical run over the past two years. Its Opteron server chip moved from being a plaything in IBM's server line to becoming a driver of sales for the likes of HP and Sun Microsystems and a major force at a host of other companies. Start-ups have bet their futures on the chip, as have venerable hardware makers like Cray. A whole crop of third-party suppliers such as Pathscale and DRC have cropped up to support Opteron's Hypertransport technology, giving AMD an edge over Intel.
Tech-savvy thieves have worked out a means to obtain free petrol after hacking into electronically-controlled petrol pumps, according to US reports. Two gas stations in St Louis, Missouri report recently losing up to $10,000 each through the scam. Crooks reportedly reprogrammed internal keypads to dispense free gas after opening up pumps. Thereafter, other unscrupulous customers take advantage of the ruse to avoid paying for petrol either. "They (the thieves) have a key to the pump and then after they open up the pump they go in and they reprogram the pump, so they can have free gas. And then everybody behind them sees what they're doing, and they continue," Kevin Tippit, manager of the Phillips 66 gas station told KSDK News Channel 5. Amjad Darwish, owner of Mobile Food Mart, which houses another gas station, suffered a similar attack last month. You might think that gas station attendants would notice someone tinkering with the pumps but this in not necessarily the case. "What it actually does is bypass our system," Tippit explained. "It goes beyond the register and is drawing directly off the pumps." Tippit's staff don't have access to the codes to the interior keypads even though they do have access to physical keys. Mobile Food Mart contacted the supplier and had keypads removed from its petrol pumps. Staff at the store are keeping close tabs on footage from CCTV cameras that monitor its gas pumps. Last week workers nabbed a suspect in the case. "When he walks in, we locked the door and call the police. They searched his car. They found the keys (and) the program. Everything was in his car," Darwish said. Local police are investigating the thefts. ®