1st > June > 2006 Archive

Cat 5 cable

IBM's Silicon Valley research mecca turns 20

IBM's famed Almaden Research Center today celebrated twenty years of blood, sweat, research and development. The Almaden facility sits atop a hill in San Jose, providing hundreds of IBM researchers with one of the more idyllic corporate R&D venues. Over the years, the lab has churned out some of IBM's key storage, software and processor advances. Of late, Almaden has started to hone in on services research, although we're still trying to figure out exactly what that entails. IBM has actually had a long-standing presence in Silicon Valley that dates back to the 1950s when it opened a smallish lab in downtown San Jose. Some of IBM's most prominent West Coast work includes the invention of the hard disk drive, the creation of the relational database by Ted Codd and the development of myriad storage management products. There's a nice history of Almaden available here. It's a shame that the public can't visit the site, which shares land with the Santa Teresa County Park. You get some spectacular views of Silicon Valley and can encounter turkeys, snakes and spiders. IBM's sprawling Almaden Research Center The area surrounding Almaden IBM is one of the few US companies still willing to spend gobs of cash on research and development and sees centers like Almaden as key to its long-term business model. This is a refreshing approach - and one shared by the likes of Sun Microsystems and HP - during a time when Chinese imports, Wal-Mart and Dell grab so many headlines. We recently attended a cognitive computing seminar at Almaden. The real brainiacs out there might find the sessions compelling. We've yet to comprehend much of what was said, although John Searle and Cristof Kock were certainly entertaining presenters. We also ran across this gem that seems like a decent answer for entering text into mobile devices. We hope IBM releases a new version of it into the wild soon. ®
Ashlee Vance, 01 Jun 2006

Compensating for SOA errors

John Schlesinger is director of integration Solutions for iWay Software (part of Information Builders Inc) and has a long history in our business. He’s been working on developing middleware since 1985, both at IBM (he worked on the CICS development team) and at iWay Software, where he’s now responsible for the iWay Business Services Provider. One of the good things about my current job is the opportunity to talk to such people (I wish I’d had such access when I was actually working in IT).
David Norfolk, 01 Jun 2006

Changing BT makes 'good start'

BT has made "a good start" meeting new regulatory obligations to provide the UK telecoms industry with equal access to its network. So says the Equality of Access Board (EAB), an independent body set up last year to monitor and scrutinise BT's organisation and to ensure that the incumbent telco meets 230 legally binding undertakings that form part of the new deal struck with the regulator Ofcom. Last September, BT agreed to "substantive structural, product and governance changes, affecting both its current and future networks". Central to that was the creation of a new access services division within BT called Openreach to ensure that all telcos get equal access to BT's network. In its first annual report the EAB says that BT "has made as good a start as might have been hoped for, meeting all of the initial Undertakings milestones and delivery deadlines". "For example, the creation of Openreach as an organisation of 30,000 is one which BT has shown great determination in achieving. While not everything has gone flawlessly, we see commitment to addressing the areas which need more work." It went on: "The complexity associated with delivering the equivalence targets during the next 12 months make the challenges for BT more significant. The combination of the scale of the system and process changes required and the challenging timescales committed to in the Undertakings means the highest hurdles are still to come." In particular, the EAB has flagged up two areas of concern. Once concerns local loop unbundling (LLU) and the other Wholesale Line Rental (WLR). In both cases the EAB says that the work involved is complex and challenging and has warned that the delivery of fit for purpose products "is at risk". That said, the EAB remains convinced that there is the desire within BT to deliver these systems on time. Commenting on the report Openreach chief exec Steve Robertson: "We've achieved a lot in the last few months, and have hit every deadline to date. "But that won't mean much if we don't continue to work hard towards our stated aims over the next few months. And we will do just that. "Everyone within Openreach is passionate about delivering an excellent level of service to all our communication provider customers. This Report makes it clear that we still have some way to go before we get there, but get there we will." Last week a survey of industry players published by Ofcom warned that BT's "honeymoon period" in the aftermath of its reorganisation was coming to an end after some telcos said they were still sceptical about changes designed to make the UK's telecoms sector more competitive and transparent. Some telcos said they were generally supportive of Openreach recognising that setting up such a major new organisation is bound to throw up some teething problems. Then there are "sceptics", who said they need to see changes before giving their full support to the new structure. The report said: "While most of Openreach's customers appreciate that the pace of change has been such that there were bound to be teething problems, many stressed that the honeymoon period is now ending and that they required significant improvements within the next six to 12 months." ®
Tim Richardson, 01 Jun 2006

Apple nears XServe, Mac Pro Intel switch

Apple will use Intel's upcoming 'Woodcrest' server processor - due to ship as the Xeon 5100 series - in the x86-based version of its XServe rackmount server, an online report has claimed. The upshot: the Power Mac G5 will become the last Mac to get the Intel treatment, shipping with a Core 2 Duo chip inside a month after the new XServe debuts.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006
channel

Nominet warns on Whois data mining

Nominet has issued a warning about commercial companies that are swiping copyrighted information on domain name owners from its Whois database.
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Jun 2006

Tesco IT boss makes £2.2m

Tesco's IT director 44 year old Philip Clarke is paid £2.2m for his work at the supermarket. Clarke has been on the board of directors since 1998. Clarke is responsible for Tesco international expansion, mainly in eastern Europe and south-east Asia, as well as its computer systems. The supermarket has more than 800 stores outwith the UK and is soon to open its first US store. Clarke receives a basic salary of £628,000 with the rest coming from cash and share bonuses. This puts him in the middle ranks of Tesco directors and some way behind chief executive Terry Leahy who trousers just under £4m. More from Silicon here or from Tesco's annual report here.
John Oates, 01 Jun 2006

Bird rescuers find alien in duck

Forget Area 51: welcome to Area H5N1 - otherwise known as the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in Fairfield, California - and location of the first confirmed sighting of an alien secreted within the body of a duck: Here's the background: On Sunday, May 21st, an adult male mallard was brought to the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), with what appeared to be a broken wing. Since 1971, the IBRRC has been rescuing birds from the devastating effects of oil spills around the world. Marie Travers, assistant manager of the center, radiographed the mallard and was immediately shocked by what was revealed on the x-ray. A very clear image of what appeared to be the face, or head, of an extraterrestrial alien was in the bird's stomach. IBRRC big cheese Jay Holcomb told the San Francisco Chronicle: "We're a 35-year-old organization, and we've seen a lot of things—bullets, fish hooks—but this is the first time anything like this has shown up." Sadly for UFOlogists, Holcomb reckons the extraterrestrial apparition was actually "caused by grains of food in the duck's digestive system". The poor animal popped its clogs shortly after the X-ray was taken and an autopsy found nothing more than grain in its gut. There is some good news, however. The original plate has now landed on eBay, where has already attracted a top bid of $4,599. The cash raised will go towards the centre's bird rehabilitation programme. ® Bootnotes A Roswellian thanks very much to Steve Dodd for the tip-off.
Lester Haines, 01 Jun 2006
homeless man with sign

Spam deluge eclipses email virus threat

May witnessed an all-time low for virus-laden emails and a record high for spam, according to stats from email filtering firm BlackSpider Technologies. Emails containing malware made up just 0.73 percent of all emails scanned by BlackSpider last month while junk emails represented 87.74 per cent. By comparison, the number of virus-infected emails reached 3.93 per cent of all emails in December 2005, a record high. The drop since then is reckoned to be down to a shift of tactics by malware authors, who are beginning to favour targeted attacks. The high level of spam last month is partly explained by a spike that occurred between 21 and 23 May, when UK businesses were flooded by more than 250m spam emails. The surge of spam were sent from a botnet of more than 150,000 compromised PCs, or 'spambots'. The content of the emails varied throughout the deluge. Each one, however, links to websites selling penis pills and other drugs. The subject lines and body text of each spam email contained obfuscated drugs names (such as CtqALLlS). The emails ended with a poem or paragraph of random obfuscating words designed to fox less sophisticated email filters. James Kay, CTO, BlackSpider Technologies, said: "The sheer number of compromised machines making up these botnets demonstrates that, despite the reduction in the percentage of email carrying viruses, virus infection continues to be a widespread problem". ®
John Leyden, 01 Jun 2006

Analyst touts AMD-ATI tie-up

AMD wants to buy ATI, a financial analyst has suggested, though he provides no direct evidence that such a move will take place or when it may happen.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006

BBC survey damns NHS IT system

Connecting for Health (CfH) has defended the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) against the negative results of a new survey. The Medix survey, carried out for BBC programme File on 4, concludes that a "significant minority" of doctors were questioning whether the current route is the most effective. It shows that over a third of the doctors responding and 11 per cent of hospital colleagues were in favour of abandoning the programme. Responding to the survey, published on 30 May 2006, CfH said that issues reported in the programme must be seen in the wider context. "Up and down the country patients and clinicians are benefiting from new computer systems," it said in a statement. It pointed out that 28,000 GPs are using the Quality Management Analysis System on a daily basis, 227,239 users are registered for access to the NHS Record spine and over 400,000 electronic bookings have been made on the Choose and Book system since July 2004. Half of GPs interviewed for the Medix survey said the Choose and Book system was poor or fairly poor. Four out of five GPs said they had access to the computer system but half said they rarely or never used it. Only one in five said it was good or fairly good. "They (doctors) are also frustrated at the speed of progress or the systems delivered so far," the survey says. A Medix spokesperson told GC News: "Doctors are in favour of the national programme in principle but are waiting for the electronic records system which will be a huge step forward but that hasn't even started yet. It could take another two years for that to be set up." The poll was completed by 447 hospital doctors and 340 GPs. 85 per cent of GPs surveyed call for an independent review of the entire system by technical experts to check its basic viability. CfH has delayed its own survey, commissioned from Mori in January 2006, asking doctors, nurses and NHS managers in 28 strategic health authorities, their views on the NPfIT progress. The £6.3bn IT upgrade aims to link up 30,000 GPs to nearly 300 hospitals in a radical overhaul of the NHS IT network. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Kablenet, 01 Jun 2006

Intel to lay off 16,000 workers?

Is Intel about to rid itself of 16,000 workers - just over 16 per cent of its global workforce - later this month? So suggest whispers doing the rounds among Silicon Valley's technology community at the moment.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006

UK bloggers also likely to be Apple-proof

California's Court of Appeal ruled last week that staff at web magazines qualified for journalistic protection. While there has never been a test case in the UK, a Solicitor Advocate says bloggers are likely to enjoy similarly strong protections here.
OUT-LAW.COM, 01 Jun 2006

Telia boss charged with not attending Abba musical

The chief exec of pan-Scandy telco TeliaSonera has been charged with bribery, along with the company's Swedish boss, over a planned, but aborted, trip to Abba musical Mamma Mia. The trip nearly took place in early 2005 but Swedish prosecutors only decided yesterday to charge the two. Anders Ingel, CEO of TeliaSonera, and Marie Ehrling, boss of the Swedish business, invited 200 customers to see the musical in Stockholm. But the dinner and theatre invitation was cancelled when the telco heard an investigation had been launched. TeliaSonera president Tom von Weymarn, presumably not an Abba fan, said in a statement: "Customer events of the nature described in this action are a normal occurrence in any market and with this in mind I am amazed that the Director of Public Prosecutions has not decided to terminate his preliminary investigation. The Board and I have full confidence in Anders Igel and Marie Ehrling." The two accused issued a joint statement: "It is surprising that the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided to go for an indictment in relation to the activity in question, an event which never even took place. Customer events of the type we had planned, where the attendees are also informed about the latest products and services, are a normal occurrence in Swedish business life." The statement also said that Swedish law was unclear on the issue so a judgement would help clarify what is, and is not allowed. Sweden's chief prosecutor Christian van der Kwast is also investigating Swedish firms suspected of abusing the UN's oil for food programme in Iraq. He is also investigating fashion house H&M for paying journalists' expenses accrued travelling to a New York fashion show. Read more from AP here or the whole statement from TeliaSonera here.®
John Oates, 01 Jun 2006

Asus readies Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme mobo

Intel has yet to ship either its Core 2 Duo or its Core 2 Extreme processors, but that hasn't stopped Asus from announcing a motherboard that will support both of the upcoming CPUs.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006
channel

First StarOffice malware sighted

Virus writers have created the first virus to affect StarOffice. Stardust uses macros to attack Sun's alternative office suite. The malware was written as a proof-of-concept code to show what might be possible rather than as a serious attempt to create a new attack vector. Macro viruses usually infect Microsoft Office applications though the attack technique has fallen out of favour over the last couple of years as Trojans and botnet clients have grown in favour. VXers have reapplied the macro virus idea to create malware that messes with alternative office suites. "Stardust is the first virus I know of which is theoretically capable of infecting StarOffice and or OpenOffice documents. It's written in Star Basic. It downloads an image file (with adult content) from the Internet and then opens this file in a new document," writes a virus researcher from Kasperky Labs on the firm's weblog. The code uses an old API (application programming interface) but this might be easily modified to affect OpenOffice 2.0, the latest version of the open-source office suite, Infoworld reports. ®
John Leyden, 01 Jun 2006

The time has come to ditch email

CommentComment Back in 1972, by some accounts, a new form of communication known as email was born. It was a practical implementation of electronic messaging that was first seen on local timeshare computers in the 1960s. I can only imagine how much fun and revolutionary it must have been to use email in those early years, to have been at the bleeding edge of the curve.
Kelly Martin, 01 Jun 2006

3G BlackBerry 8707 debuts

Research in Motion's 3G-enabled BlackBerry finally made its debut this week, initially in Germany on the Vodafone network.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006

DoJ pushes data retention on ISPs

Anticipating a court defeat for the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) bid which would extend the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to make Internet service providers wiretap friendly, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller have launched a PR campaign pitching Internet data retention as the next best solution to kiddie porn and terrorism. The FCC rule, declaring that ISPs fall under the CALEA along with telcos, has been challenged and is currently on appeal. There was, however, a rather bad omen during recent hearings, as one appellate judge openly mocked the FCC's arguments as "gobbledygook". This has led to a bit of concern among the Feds, and a subsequent Plan-B approach. Indeed, it's a fair bet that the DoJ and FBI have learned through their contacts (or electronic surveillance posts) that the court is not inclined to give them the Total Internet Surveillance™ capabilities they crave. Thus Gonzales, speaking to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia last month, emphasized the need for ISPs to retain data for two years to aid in bringing sexual predators to justice. And according to a recent CNET News.com article, Gonzales and Mueller sat down with major American ISP honchos last week to push the terrorism angle. The obvious purpose was for DoJ to get a sense of which policing burdens the industry will tolerate, and how much they expect to be paid, as a prelude to proposing data-retention legislation. However, as the FCC's CALEA ruling for ISPs looks to be headed down the crapper, the DoJ has recently infuriated Congress by raiding the offices of (obviously corrupt, all right) US Representative William Jefferson (Democrat, Louisiana), a move somewhat too suggestive of a coup d'état. Thus we're not likely to see DoJ-sponsored legislation treated as a Congressional priority in the foreseeable future. For now, at least, it looks like nuts to extending the CALEA, and nuts to mass data retention. ®
Thomas C Greene, 01 Jun 2006

Samsung readies TV, 3G phones for Europe

Samsung will this month ship Europe's first digital TV phone capable of receiving programmes broadcast on a terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) network, the company said yesterday. It also pledged to ship its latest 3G phone in Europe soon.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006

LiveJournal tells lactating mums to put 'em away

LiveJournal has allegedly put a stop to breastfeeding mothers proudly displaying milk-packed jubs in their default userpics after the voluntary Abuse Team deemed such images "inappropriate". According to pro-breastfeeding outfit ProMoM, the guidelines for said pics now prohibit "nudity or graphic violence", having previously banned "sexually explicit or graphically violent" images. What the FAQs don't say is that "the rules LiveJournal Abuse now says it follows are to disallow any female nipple or areola in default icons", claims ProMoM. Rather splendidly, ProMoM has provided a small but perfectly-formed gallery where readers are invited to judge for themselves just how shocking and offensive some of the proscribed snaps are. All pretty tame, we're sure you'll agree. Quite how this matter of international import will be resolved is anyone's guess but we can't help feeling that the whole future of the internet, if not western democracy, may be at stake. ® Bootnote Yeah, we reckon it should be ProMaM, too.
Lester Haines, 01 Jun 2006

Motorola parades D&G-styled gold RAZR

Motorola today began shipping a gold-coloured version of its RAZR V3i clamshell handset. The gaudy article is co-branded by Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana. The sound you can hear in the background is a million chavs clamouring for the gilt-like device.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006

Be Unlimited 24Meg broadband review

Tech DigestTech Digest Veteran TechDigest readers may recall this news item about Be’s Unlimited 24mbps broadband – then as now the fastest available in the UK -  back in August of last year. Like a good little guinea pig I signed up in early Spetember as a regular subscriber – no special favours here (yet!) – and waited for activation. And waited. And waited. Eventually, on the 11th of May 2006 my Be broadband went live. Broadband installations are frequently delayed due to unavoidable issues between the ISP and BT. In this case though, I really could have created a whole new human being in the time it took between signup and logon. That, however, is pretty much all the bad news: It really is the fastest ADSL you can buy in these British Isles right now. Your gateway to these ultra-nippy speeds is a rebadged Alcatel Speedtouch 716v5 modem with a nice little ‘*box’ Be logo on the top. It offers four Ethernet ports, a USB if you need it and 16 possible WiFi connections. There are also two telephone ports for some fancy VoIP tricks if you’re motivated. It requires a little more setting up than (say) Skype and a USB handset but once you’re done, it’s a very slick operation. Generally though, the modem is configured before despatch, so all you have to do is connect it (and the included filter) between your landline and computer to get started. Unlike a few other broadband modems I’ve tested it generates no line noise so landline calls are as quiet as pre-broadband days. Be also offer email and web hosting, although it’s not easy to find out basic things like smtp and pop server names from their website. Luckily lots of Be subscribers have been there before you and Be’s forums are positively humming with useful configuration tips. Overall, support is pretty responsive: Although there is the predictable automated switchboard it only takes a couple of button presses to get through to a real, and surprisingly helpful tech. So, the big question: How fast is it? The quoted 24mbps figure is of course a theoretical maximum that can be adversely affected by all sorts of transient issues and even your distance from the exchange. I can see my local telephone exchange from my back window, and the (very clear and informative) BeBox web front end tells me that right now I’m sucking down 19,800 kbps. That’s not far from my average. In real-world conditions that means that you dare click on the HD trailers from Apple without scheduling a tea break before you can watch them. Most sites – with the curious exception of TechDigest – load within a couple of seconds, and streamed audio and video content almost never choke. Overall, if you’re already within Be’s catchment area there really is no contest – especially considering their very aggressive discounting policy. If you’re not then you maybe have to accept that top speed comes slowly.
Tech Digest, 01 Jun 2006

Police offered robot eye

A firm that produces surveillance software used by numerous British police forces is looking for one of them to test its latest wheez, a programme that automatically scans CCTV footage for suspicious behaviour and matches it with other intelligence such as mugshots. The new software, by Nice Systems, can alert police when it detects loitering, crowd gathering, people running when they should be walking, tail-gating, parking in the wrong place, unauthorised entry, or any sort of behaviour the police want to track. John Chetwynd, technical consultant for public safety at Nice Systems, said: "We are looking for British police to do a beta trial." Police forces using older versions of Israel-based Nice's software include, Devon and Cornwall, Hampshire, Herts., the Met., South Yorks., and Strathclyde. Nice software can also be used to spy on telephone conversations and internet traffic. Prisons, casinos, airports, banks, call centres, transport networks and 75 per cent of the Fortune 100 companies use the system for these purposes, as well as analysing CCTV footage for suspicious behaviour. Police forces are busy establishing control room links with town centre and other public CCTV networks. Nice software is used to scrutinize conversations, email communications and CCTV footage using different software programmes. The new system, called Nice Inform, gives the user the power to do all these things from one desk in a control room. It can apparently automatically identify someone on a telephone using voice biometrics and detect what they say, alerting the authorities when people say keywords. It can also detect the emotion in a human voice. According to Fox News, Nice software tracks 45m corporate calls a day. "There is no more excuse for poor service because now they will know what is going on," a Nice representative told the station. Nice says total surveillance allows companies to "improve quality, productivity and profitability". It is the ultimate Fordist stopwatch and clipboard. Intelligence agencies use Nice software to analyse vast amounts of data gleaned from direct "trunk" links into public telephone and internet communications network, "without the need to rely on network operators", according to Nice. This is the sort of dragnet intelligence gathering that has caused recent uproar across the Atlantic, with the US secret police, the National Security Agency, facing a court hearing this month over allegedly spying indiscriminately and without a warrant on all civilian telephone and internet communications using a trunk link into the public network and software like that developed by Nice. The Nice system analyses intelligence data, making comparisons from different sources and derived from the activity of different people, to detect certain behavioural patterns it thinks might be a sign of illegal activity. The old system relied on predicting future events from past records, said its annual financial return last month. The new software would take advantage of the "vast amounts of data" being collected by voice and video surveillance systems operated by companies and intelligence agencies. "By employing software-based analytics on unstructured multimedia content, companies are able to detect customer intent, often through near real-time interactions where a customer may express concerns, desires or provide other signals of their intentions," said the statement. The same advantages of crime prediction will be conferred on the security services, it said: "Our solutions enable our public safety and security customers to identify threats as they occur, and analyze video footage to identify suspicious objects or behavior more quickly and effectively." It said Nice would have to spend a "significant" amount of money on marketing to persuade security agencies to change their modus operandi to "proactive security management". It spent $72m, or 23 per cent of revenues, on sales and marketing in 2005. The rate of error in the older, less sophisticated Nice software is thought to be about 5 per cent. An application that Nice is fond of promoting is analysing CCTV footage in airport terminals to detect when someone leaves a bag unattended. It is use by international airports to reduce the cost of evacuation when a "suspect" package is spotted.®
Mark Ballard, 01 Jun 2006

Microsoft-led coalition bands against Apple iPod

It's almost like MSX all over again. Microsoft, Toshiba, JVC, NTT DoCoMo, Creative, iRiver and three other firms have banded together in a bid to prevent Apple's iPod from completely dominating the Japanese portable music player market.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006
medistick

Swiss firm touts medical USB key

Here at last is a good reason to keep a USB Flash drive around your neck at all times: it's got your medical history stored on it. That's the idea Swiss company Medistick is touting. It launched its first product today.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006

Griffin TuneBuds iPod lanyard-earphone combo

ReviewReview Apple's lightweight iPod Nano would be ideal for dangling around your neck had Apple bothered to bundle a lanyard with the player as it did with the screen-less iPod Shuffle. It will sell you one, of course, neatly fitted to a pair of standard white iPod earphones, but that's not much use if you want something in black, or you fancy a set of in-the-ear 'phones...
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006

Cingular to offer 'world's smallest' flip phone

Pantech has announced what it claims is the world's smallest clamshell GSM phone is now on sale in the US, courtesy of North American carrier Cingular.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006

O2 brings BlackBerry 7130 to Blighty

Mobile operator O2 today marked the first appearance of Research in Motion's smart-phone styled BlackBerry 7130 series - the follow on to the 7100 series - in the UK.
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 2006
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EC backs UK tax man on VAT fraud

The European Commission has strengthened HMRC’s hand against VAT fraudsters by backing a “reverse charge mechanism” for VAT payments. The backing for the reverse charge approach was announced as part of a “coherent European strategy” announced by Brussels yesterday. A reverse charge system would mean VAT is accounted for only when a business sells a product to the end customer. At present VAT can be “paid” and reclaimed numerous times right through the supply chain, giving ample opportunity for missing trader and carousel fraud. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs had sought EC backing for a reverse charge approach on certain high value, mobile items – such as mobile phones and computer chips – as part of its effort to crack down on missing trader fraud. As part of the EC’s new coherent strategy, the commission also said it would consider strengthening “the principle of joint and several liability for the payment of tax with due regard for the principles of proportionality and legal certainty”. Other measures it is considering include: increasing tax declaration obligations for some companies; reducing obligations for companies which enter into a partnership with tax authorities; using “standardised, high-performance IT tools for the rapid exchange of information” and “new ways of exchanging information, such as sharing common databases”. Last month, The Guardian claimed that VAT losses to missing trader fraud in the last financial year were £5bn in the UK, and will hit £7bn this year, though HMRC has rubbished those figures.®
Joe Fay, 01 Jun 2006

Swedish court says PCs used for gambling need permit

An internet café in Örebro in Sweden has been closed after the local council argued that its twelve PCs were occasionally used for gambling and it therefore needed a gaming permit. When protesting didn't help and both the country administrative board and the administrative court ruled in favor of the cafe, the case was taken to the administrative court of appeal in Jönköping, which yesterday ruled that a PC - even in an internet café - automatically becomes a gaming machine if someone plays games with a financial stake on it. Like most European countries, Sweden is imposing strict conditions on online gaming to prevent gambling addiction, even though Sweden's first home grown – state-run - poker web site was launched in March. Estimates are that around 200,000 Swedes play poker on the web. The ruling could cause massive headaches to Swedish internet cafes, who now have to keep an eye on which sites their users are visiting.®
Jan Libbenga, 01 Jun 2006

BBC to broadcast World Cup online

The BBC will broadcast all its World Cup games live on broadband, it has announced. The adventures of Wayne “Roo” Rooney, David “Becks” Beckham, Frank “Lamps” Lampard, and Michael “Michael” Owen, and other nations' top footballists will be available for UK users' desktop delectation when the tournament starts next week. The stream will carry the same commentary as the Corporation's over-air broadcasts. The Beeb will be restricting the service to licence fee payers in the UK however. They'll be four-minute highlights for every single game too, which will be available on-demand. Director of Sport Roger Mosey said: “We know a lot of online viewing is done in the office, so we suspect this will allow people both to do their job and to keep up with the very latest action from Germany.” If you say so Roger.®
Christopher Williams, 01 Jun 2006
channel

AMD pegs mid-2007 for complete chip overhaul

AMD today dangled a couple of key dates in front of customers, hoping to keep them sweet in the coming years instead of defecting back to Intel. The chip maker has long promised to ship a four-core server processor in 2007. At its analyst conference here, AMD solidified that date by saying that the four-core product will arrive in the "middle of next year." Optimistic AMD supporters hoped the company might surprise customers and rival Intel by shipping this product in early 2007, but it seems AMD has run out of real surprises.
Ashlee Vance, 01 Jun 2006

HP grabs 90 per cent of 'industry standard' Itanic market

Any claims by Intel that the Itanium processor is an "industry standard" will look more than foolish now that HP has captured an astonishing 90 per cent of the Itanium server market. A fresh set of first quarter sales figures from Gartner show that HP now owns 90 per cent of Itanic server shipments and 82 per cent of Itanic server revenue. HP's share increased from the 80 per cent shipment/70 per cent revenue mark reported by Gartner in the same quarter last year. The gains made by HP are good news for the company as it transitions away from PA-RISC and Alpha but bad news for other Itanium backers. HP shipped 7,200 Itanium servers during the first quarter – up from 5,400 boxes in last year's Q1. The second largest Itanic vendor is SGI, which just filed for bankruptcy protection. SGI's first quarter server shipments fell to just 230 units, down from 244 last year. NEC's shipments fell from 186 units to 145 units; Fujitsu gained share by selling 131 systems versus 68 last year; and Hitachi moved 125 systems in the first quarter as compared to 61 last year. IBM shipped 114 boxes, Groupe Bull shipped 81 and Unisys shipped an impressive 22 boxes, breaking the tough baker's dozen mark. In terms of revenue, HP moved $512m worth of Itanium systems up from $331m last year. NEC shipped $37m worth of systems, SGI shipped $31m, Fujitsu shipped $17m, Bull shipped $13m, Unisys shipped $7m and IBM shipped $6m. We take it IBM was rather heavily discounting its few remaining Itanic systems, as it pulls out of the market. All told, Itanium accounts for .4 per cent of all processor sales. It's hard to imagine how the likes of SGI, Bull and Unisys can justify their $10bn backing of the Itanium Solutions Alliance given these figures. ®
Ashlee Vance, 01 Jun 2006
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Ernst & Young laptop loss exposes 243,000 Hotels.com customers

ExclusiveExclusive Ernst & Young's laptop loss unit continues to be one of the company's more productive divisions. We learn this week that the accounting firm lost a system containing data on 243,000 Hotels.com customers. Hotels.com joins the likes of Sun Microsystems, IBM, Cisco, BP and Nokia, which have all had their employees' data exposed by Ernst & Young, as revealed here in a series of exclusive stories. The Register can again exclusively confirm the loss of the Hotels.com customer information after having received a copy of a letter mailed out jointly by the web site and Ernst & Young. A Hotels.com spokesman also confirmed the data breach, saying Ernst & Young notified the company of the laptop loss on May 3. The laptop in question was stolen from an Ernst & Young worker's car in Texas and did have some basic data protection mechanisms such as, erm, the need for a password. "Recently, Hotels.com was informed by its outside auditor, Ernst & Young, that one of Ernst & Young's employees had his laptop computer stolen," Hotels.com told its customers in the letter. "Unfortunately, the computer contained certain information about customer transactions with Hotels.com, and other sites through which we provide booking services directly to customers, from 2002 through 2004. "This information may have included your name, address and some credit or debit card information you provided at that time." Ernst & Young in February lost one laptop that held information on what's believed to be tens of thousands of Sun, IBM, Cisco, BP and Nokia employees. It's not clear if this was the same system in the Hotels.com incident. Ernst & Young has not returned our calls seeking comment and has been reluctant to provide information on these incidents in the past. Ernst & Young in February also lost four laptops in Miami when its workers decided to leave their systems in a hotel conference room while they went out for lunch. Major media outlets have so far ignored the Ernst & Young laptop incidents, although they were quick to follow on our confirmation of a Fidelity data breach that saw 200,000 HP workers have their information exposed. Ernst & Young offers a variety of security services to customers, and encourages clients to be transparent with their policies around customer data issues. The company, however, has not exactly been proactive with regard to its own issues. ®
Ashlee Vance, 01 Jun 2006