5th > June > 2006 Archive

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VMware goes way beyond the VM

VMware has armed its largest product release in company history. The server virtualization specialist looks to extend its lead over Microsoft and a host of other rivals with a revamp to its flagship product and a number of upgraded and new management packages. Beyond the product refreshes, VMware has also altered the way it sells software by picking up a more aggressive bundling model. All told, VMware is well poised to burrow deeper into customers' data centers. Starting today, customers will find the EMC subsidiary selling VMware Infrastructure 3. At its broadest level, this package includes the new ESX Server 3 software along with fresh versions of existing management products such as VMotion, VirtualCenter 2, Virtual SMP, and Resource Pools. VMware has then added four new products to bundle as well with its VMFS file system, Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), High Availability product and Consolidated Backup software. The breadth of these products mark VMware's intention to move well beyond managing a couple of applications and operating systems per server. "The big deal here is that unlike previous generations where a customer created a virtual machine and targeted it at one piece of hardware, we can now let you aggregate all of your hardware into one pool and then map applications to those hardware resources," said Raghu Raghuram, a VP at VMware. VMware now has tools for handling failures in a cluster, backing up data onto a dedicated storage system and using four-way virtual systems. These packages combine to let VMware's software play in more critical parts of the data center and help it tap into sophisticated management packages from the likes of IBM, Symantec, HP and CA. It's difficult to say how well VMware's suite performs together without having a first-hand look at the package. The company, however, has beta tested the entire VMware Infrastructure 3 suite since last October, and more than 6,400 customers have played with the code. Rivals such as Microsoft and XenSource can't really come close to matching the varied aspects of VMware Infrastructure 3. For the most part, rivals are still working on fine-tuning their core virtualization platform. Microsoft, for example, will throw out Virtual Server in favor of a new hypervisor bundled into Longhorn Server sometime in 2008. Meanwhile, XenSource is trying to figure out its management software strategy that will back up the Xen hypervisor. "I certainly pay attention to Microsoft, and they are a formidable competitor," said VMware's long-time chief, Diane Greene. "But what they are talking about having in two years does not even match what we have today." The bundling approach by VMware also shows how it has reacted to Microsoft and XenSource's move to make their main virtualization products free. VMware has made thousands of dollars per CPU on the back of ESX Server. It now looks to extend that model by adding in more software for the same price. In the past, for example, you could buy all of the high-end software VMware sold for about $5,000 per two-socket box. Now, customers will get all of that software plus the four new products for $5,750. Those who don't want the massive package can purchase the file system, Virtual SMP, Virtual Center 2.0 and ESX Server 3.0 for $3,750. A lower-end package without the file system or Virtual SMP costs $1,000. That last package is a pretty good deal for smaller customers, considering that VMware used to sell ESX Server on its own for $3,750. Some of the more impressive additions to the VMware suite include the following: ESX Server 3.0 ships with four-way virtual SMP support up from two-way support in the past. The four CPUs can now eat up to 16GB of memory. Power management tools for shifting unused servers into rest modes. Support for the iSCSI storage protocol. Support for up to 50 different storage systems from the likes of HP, NetApp and IBM delivered via the revamped file system Incidentally, Itanium customers are now out of luck where VMware is concerned. The software maker has pulled its Itanic support, which makes sense given the strength of HP-UX's partitioning tools and the lack of a real Itanium market outside of HP. VMware Infrastructure 3 will be available with most Microsoft and Linux operating systems as well as Solaris x86. VMware is still fine-tuning support for some 64-bit OSes. Over the long run, VMware will face a tough struggle to maintain its growth and revenue. The software maker is heading toward being a $1bn-a-year business. And, without question, the new suite from VMware pushes it toward partner turf. IBM, for example, has a strong storage virtualization story. VMware insists that it just wants to provide management hooks for partners and customers. But with the release of VMware Infrastructure 3, VMware looks like a very grown-up software player. Life will be tough on the competition. ®
Ashlee Vance, 05 Jun 2006
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Phishers aim to hook MySpace users

Security watchers have discovered a phishing attack targeting users of MySpace, the social networking website. The attack comes in the form of a hyperlink sent to potential marks in an AOL instant messaging message. Users who follow the link are taken to a bogus website that spoofs the MySpace.com login page. The ruse is designed to fool users into handing over account information to crooks. Surfers duped into handing over this information are subsequently forwarded to the real MySpace.com website. According to net security firm WebSense, the fraudulent site also sets a "cookie on the victim's computer, which prevents the phishing attack from being displayed on any subsequent visits". The MySpace phishing email is another example of how email fraudsters are widening their sights beyond traditional targets, such as eBay and high street banks, alongside moves to develop more sophisticated scams. A screenshot of the bogus website and more information on the attack can be found in this WebSense alert. ®
John Leyden, 05 Jun 2006
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Councils give identity fraudsters a helping hand

Local planning authorities are giving identity criminals "all they need" by posting applicants' personal details online, according to the UK's fraud prevention service Cifas The organisation said planning authorities were publishing applicants' personal details, including names addresses, telephone and signatures, on the web as part of their planning consultations. Householders are particularly vulnerable to identity fraud as larger schemes are more likely to publish details of an agent. Cifas chief executive Peter Hurst said: "This is Christmas come early for identity fraudsters. Local authorities are giving them all they need to adopt their (applicants') identities." Identity fraud in the UK rose by 17 per cent in the first quarter of 2006. Last year there were 137,000 cases of identity fraud in the UK, up from just 20,000 in 1999. Cifas said the government and local authority associations have indicated they are addressing the problem. Changes include: making planning applicants more aware that their applications will be published online; encouraging applicants to only submit personal information they are happy will be made available on the internet; and confirmation that there is "no necessity for authorities to publish signatures". "Local authorities have a role to play in combating this crime by striking the right balance between publishing details as part of a public consultation process and ensuring the security of the personal details entrusted to them," said Hurst. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here. This article was originally published at Kablenet.
Kablenet, 05 Jun 2006

YouTube gets an upgrade

YouTube got an upgrade on Friday - it has added a tab of channels - and any user can set themselves up as a channel. You can choose the colours of your channel, link to content you like as well as put up your own content. The idea is that similar channels, or users, will link to each other so creating groups of similar or related content. The site is also offering a log of the last 100 videos you have watched - but makes clear it won't be storing or using this information itself. The site is also improving blog support so users will be able to upload video to blogs more easily. The site is fearsomely popular, especially with kids. It shows 50m videos a day to some six million unique users. With 40,000 new videos going up a day it's growing fast. The site was founded in February 2005 and employs 32 people. It officially launched in December 2005. The two founders - Chad Hurley and Steve Chen met at PayPal. More info here.®
John Oates, 05 Jun 2006
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English Judge OKs software patent case

The exclusion of computer programs from the patenting process will be tested in a Court of Appeal case that could turn UK patent law on its head.
OUT-LAW.COM, 05 Jun 2006

Call centre surveillance trained on police

Software used to monitor the phone conversations of staff working in call centres will be used to tap police calls with the public and hold force operators to performance targets. Nice Systems, an Israeli intelligence software firm, is tendering with three British police forces for the sale of a system that will automatically pick out calls for closer inspection. It will automatically detect heightened emotions in conversations between operators and the public by spotting fluctuations in their voice. The same software picks out keywords, is used by banks to spot fraudsters, and can identify callers by their voice biometrics. Adam Smith, a marketing manager at Nice, said the software would pick out "problem and exceptional" conversations for further analysis against performance indicators. "We've got three or four constabularies who are actively tendering for this type of technology, and all of them are looking at it," he said. Yet there is a growing sense in the police service that performance indicators have become such a burden that it is suffering a slow but sure "death by KPI", according to an anonymous quote gathered by Peter Maddison, head of performance management for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and chief constable of Northamptonshire Police. "Targets aren't guiding us, they're driving everything we do - you can't reduce everything to numbers," said another service member. In March, an Audit Commission report found: "Centrally imposed targets and the associated performance monitoring and intervention are perceived to stifle innovation." It dragged everyone down by dwelling on the "failures of the worst performers". An ODPM consultation last year found that too much scrutiny of individual performance fostered "compliance rather than innovation". Smith said police operators would get used to the new regime because it gave them evidence when facing complaints: "Normally when we put this in place, [call centre staff] see it as big brother, but once it's been in for some time they see it as a backup." He reckoned the software could reduce the administrative burden that performance monitoring puts on police sergeants, and help them produce communications for evidence. As in call centres, the software will track how many calls police operators take, how quickly and how well. It would support the "citizen focus" of the force, said Smith. ®
Mark Ballard, 05 Jun 2006
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Cybersecurity contests go national

It has all the makings of a B-movie plot: A corporate network targeted by hackers and a half dozen high-school students as the company's only defense.
Robert Lemos, 05 Jun 2006
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Containing the employee IT threat

Quocirca's changing channelsQuocirca's changing channels Avoiding bad publicity, protecting brand name and maximising customer confidence are all high on the list of worries of businesses when considering their ability to comply with the various laws and regulations that govern them. Some businesses pay lip service to some regulations and others find ways around them altogether (witness those delisting from US stock exchanges and joining other markets get away from Sarbanes-Oxley). But most regulations simply have to be complied with and laws are laws. For those tasked with overseeing that businesses are in line with the rules and regulations, and indeed, that the business maintains high standards in its dealing with customers, suppliers and partners, IT just makes the headache worse. With so many channels of communications open and the mingling of their business and personal activities, businesses more are open to risk from the actions of their employees than ever before. It is not that all employees are intrinsically bad, most are not, but any employee is open to distractions from what they should be doing, whether it be selling stuff on eBay, instant messaging their friends (either side of the firewall), or even, writing their personal blog on animal rights or adding Wikipedia entries on their home town. All this has an impact on employee productivity, but can also lead to damaging communications with the outside world. Some employees will set out to deliberately damage their employer either because they harbour a grudge or see a chance for financial gain. Others just do plain stupid things like accidentally forwarding confidential information to external parties or exchanging lewd images with their friends. What ever the employees do, accidental or deliberate, in the name of their employer or not, all these communications are seen to come from the business and have the potential to harm its reputation and put it in breech of regulations or the law. Trusting employees is not enough; it is too easy for them to make mistakes. But businesses can not afford to be stifled by banning employees from using the very tools that are supposed to make businesses open, communicative and productive. The answer has to lie somewhere between the two – having IT systems that allow the actions of employees to be monitored and controlled. There is nothing new about this - one of the most well known brands in the computer industry, NCR (National Cash Registers) was built on the back of monitoring employees and preventing theft. There are plenty of products available to control employee activities including the use of email, the web and instant messaging. Because these products are monitoring the ports on which these activities take place they can be adapted to monitor new and emerging activities as well. But many businesses are struggling with the basics. Quocirca research shows that most businesses do not currently consider that they have a compliance oriented architecture that will allow them to achieve this. In fact many think it is unachievable. It may be hard but Quocirca believes it can be done, but businesses will need assistance to get there. Today few IT vendors have the product portfolio to cover all the ills that can arise from the misuse of IT and certainly none has the best in all areas. But resellers can assemble a portfolio of products to help their customers create a compliance oriented architecture and help those tasked with preserving the good name of the business sleep more easily. Copyright © 2006, Bob Tarzey is a service director at Quocirca focused on the route to market for IT products and services in Europe. Quocirca is a UK based perceptional research and analysis firm with expertise in the European and Global IT markets.
Bob Tarzey, 05 Jun 2006

Voda dogged by reports of shareholder revolt

Vodafone chief exec Arun Sarin is facing a challenge from some of the firm's biggest institutional shareholders who are concerned about boardroom splits at the top of the giant cellco. The Sunday Times reports that the shareholders plan to lobby other investors to back an "owners revolt" that could unseat Sarin and three or four other execs when they come up for re-election at the firm's annual meeting next month. It seems that some shareholders have lost confidence in top execs and believe a clear out is needed. News of the revolt comes just days after Vodafone announced plans to shake-up the business and hand £9bn back to shareholders. Earlier this year Voda was dogged by reports of boardroom rifts and bust-ups. In the end, Sir Christopher Gent - the man who took Vodafone from a £7.5bn business to one valued at more than £75bn - quit his role as life president of Vodafone. Reports alleged that "the old guard" at Vodafone were trying to force out Sarin although this was denied. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jun 2006

Pirate Bay resurfaces, while protesters walk the street

Pirate Bay, the controversial Swedish BitTorrent site that was closed last week by Swedish police, has reemerged in the Netherlands. The site was temporarily available at an untitled IP address, but is now running again at its original address, thepiratebay.org. Fredrik Neij, one of the three people behind the site, told Reuters that their actions are not illegal as The Pirate Bay only provides links and not the actual downloads. Now that Sweden has passed a law banning the sharing of all copyrighted material on the web, the site is temporarily operating from the Netherlands, apparently from servers of Dutch hosting company Leaseweb. Whether it is safe there is extremely doubtful. In February, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN celebrated the closure of 16 BitTorrent sites, and it will undoubtedly hunt for The Pirate Bay. This site is considered to be the world's biggest BitTorrent tracker and may have contributed to the circulation of thousands of illegal copies of the Da Vinci Code movie and other blockbuster releases. But the Swedish owners of The Pirate Bay have apparently already pondered another escape. Servers in Belgium and Russia may also be used in the future, sources say. Swedish hackers are evidently not too pleased with the shutting down of Pirate Bay. This weekend they launched a DOS attack against the Swedish government's website, as well as the Swedish police site. Both were offline for a couple of hours. The government's website was functioning again at around 8am on Sunday, according to news site The Local. A group calling themselves World Wide Hackers claimed responsibility for the attacks in a phone call to the newspaper Aftonbladet. On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators with pirate flags gathered in downtown Stockholm. In Göteborg, the country's second largest city, another 200 protesters took the streets. They demanded that The Pirate Bay's servers, which were seized on Wednesday, are given back and the investigation against the site's operators closed. The demonstration was organised by The Pirate Party and the youth wings of the Greens, the Left Party and the Liberals, who believe the Swedish minister of justice Thomas Bodström acted too hastily after a meeting with US officials who presented complaints on behalf of the American movie studios. ®
Jan Libbenga, 05 Jun 2006
homeless man with sign

ECS heralds 'Broadwater' mobos

Computex 2006Computex 2006 Intel's 'Broadwater' chipset family isn't out yet, but that hasn't stopped Elitegroup (ECS) telling the world it will show off a range of motherboards based on the new platform here at the Computex show in Taipei.
Tony Smith, 05 Jun 2006

BBC seeks webcam footie pundits

Dust off your 'cams and get ready for your close-ups, armchair Lawrensons: the BBC wants your punditry. If you know your J Jenas from your A Cole and you're handy with a webcam, you can join the live debate on the Beeb's new daily show My World Cup, which starts on Tuesday 6 June. According to the Beeb, the webcam debates will "utilise technology never before used for this purpose", allowing football fans from across the globe to interact live with Berlin-based presenter Adnan Nawaz. Viewers as far afield as Iran, Korea, China and even the Antarctic Survey base have already been signed up. If you think your webcam, your broadband connection and your mouth are up to the job, click here to apply. There's a catch, of course. My World Cup won't be troubling Doctor Who in the ratings, because it's only shown on BBC World, the channel that's always on the telly in foreign hotels. But all is not lost: the show is streamed live online four times a day (at 10.45am, 1.30pm, 4.30pm and 9.30pm from 6 June to 7 July), so you'll have plenty of chances to get your mug on screen. Webcam pundits will also be invited to spar with The Predictor, a Decision Technology computer that claims to predict accurate results. At the time of writing, The Predictor has Brazil as favourite to win, and thinks the Czech Republic, France and The Netherlands are the most under-rated teams. It also reckons the easiest group game will be England vs Trinidad and Tobago on 15 June, which is surely the kiss of death. You can watch all matches live on the BBC Sport website. ®
Jane Hoskyn, 05 Jun 2006

Line unbundling nears 500,000 milestone

Almost half a million phone lines have been unbundled in the UK as take-up of local loop unbundling (LLU) continues to accelerate. The latest monthly report from the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA) reveals that the number of unbundled lines is now more than 471,000 with numbers growing each week. While the bulk migration of lines is also increasing and is "achieving a good quality level", the OTA reports that there are still concerns about the delivery of backhaul and the migration of customers both to and from unbundled lines. "The availability of migration processes between LLU and IPStream [the end-to-end wholesale broadband product] is now causing some concern to OTA and Ofcom. Significant work is required by Openreach and BT Wholesale to ensure the processes are fit for purpose and will have little impact on end users," said the OTA. A new system is due to be introduced by the end of June that should make it easier for broadband users to switch providers. The system, currently under trial by BT, is part of an automated process called the "Equivalence Management Platform" (EMP) and should help speed up migration from local loop unbundling (LLU) operators back to BT's wholesale end-to-end IPStream product, which is commonly resold by ISPs. Customers with an LLU line typically have to wait more than ten days to switch providers. The new system should reduce that to just a couple of days. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jun 2006

VIA to push thin-client concept at big business

Computex 2006Computex 2006 VIA is to launch a marketing programme that hopes to persuade big business it needs thin-client PCs rather than full-spec desktop systems. Dubbed the Connected Client Initiative (CCI), the scheme will be launched in Taipei later this week.
Tony Smith, 05 Jun 2006

Samsung to swap Intel for AMD in next UMPC?

Samsung's second-generation ultra-mobile PC will drop the current model's Intel chippery in favour of cheaper AMD silicon, according to a company insider. Samsung hopes a much lower price will kick-start the UMPC market this autumn.
Tony Smith, 05 Jun 2006

Government mulls mind expanding drugs, man

New Labour's top science advisor has told government a new generation of brain function-enhancing pharmaceuticals are set to change how people live their lives over the next 20 years. In a presentation to ministers at Downing Street, Sir David King said “recreational psychoactive substances” will be used by healthy people to improve their cognitive abilities, The Sunday Times reports. The idea has been dubbed “cosmetic neurology”. The ADHD drug Ritalin is already used by some without the condition to boost their powers of concentration. King questioned whether regulatory schemes will have to be adapted to account for the new market. He said: "Are cognitive enhancers a great market for social opportunity or destabilising and divisive?" Bristol University's Dr Paul Howard-Jones said: “There could be restrictions placed on their sale, but that might mean people buy them illegally. I would call on people to start discussing their impact - before they start causing tremendous problems in society.” Dr Andrea Malizia, a consultant senior lecturer in the Department of Psychopharmacology at Bristol University, advocates making Alzheimer’s treatment Donepezil easier to get hold of. The drug improves memory and learning. Dr Malizia said: “The potential for these drugs is enormous. People already buy vitamins and take caffeine to improve mental functions but these drugs will offer a whole new dimension.” ®
Christopher Williams, 05 Jun 2006
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Unipalm changes name

Security distie Unipalm is changing its name to Computerlinks to align itself with the group it joined in 2000. Computerlinks marketing manager Mark Elsworth said: "This name change is a natural progression as we have been a key part of Computerlinks since we joined the group in 2000."
John Oates, 05 Jun 2006

Aussie council deploys Barry Manilow sonic weapon

An Australian council has decided to deploy the ultimate rowdy youth repellent - piped Barry Manilow backed by a further selection of "daggy" melodies. The radical sonic attack plan is designed to drive the ne'er-do-wells from a car park in Rockdale, Sydney, where they have been "revving their engines and generally annoying residents", the BBC reports. During a six-month trial in the suburb of Brighton-le-Sands, the young miscreants will be subjected to Bazza's dulcet tones which will force them to take to their heels because " they can't stand the music", as deputy mayor Bill Saravinovski explained to Oz's Daily Telegraph. The BBC notes that Mr Manilow joins Bing Crosby on the Down Under roster of weapons of musical destruction. The White Christmas crooner's hits were used against "loitering teenagers" in a 1999 purge of the Warrawong Westfield shopping mall in Wollongong. ®
Lester Haines, 05 Jun 2006

UK podcasters push for better licensing

Podcasters have met the Music Alliance in an attempt to get performance fee collectors to reconsider their rules on using licensed music in downloadable audio. The UK Podcasters Association (UKPA) was set up to counter a Music Alliance scheme it describes as “unworkable”. Its membership is drawn from the several hundred small media and homebrew podcasters in the UK. UKPA chairman Dean Whitbread said: “We would like to be able to pay a reasonable fee, without worrying about restrictive “rules” whilst we pioneer, develop and exploit new commercial formats. "If they let us do that, ultimately they'll make a lot more money out of us." The UKPA says the Music Alliance's podcast licence is too vague and impinges on speech-only podcasts and on those using so-called “podsafe” music, which is licensed under alternative arrangements such as Creative Commons. The Music Alliance, a federation of the Performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), launched its podcast music licensing scheme in March. MD Steve Potter said at the time: “Podcasting has really exploded into life over the past six months. It has quickly moved from the efforts of a few hobbyists into an accepted method of distributing content. We are introducing this licence as quickly as possible to enable music podcasters to trade legitimately.” The Music Alliance says the licence is a trial in its current form, set to run until the end of the year. It is meeting with interested parties and big providers to figure out how best to collect subs from podcasters. Opponents of the current licence say it costs too much for hobbyist podcasters to comply. MCPS and PRS are currently in dispute with the record industry over how much artists should be paid from online distribution of their work. ®
Christopher Williams, 05 Jun 2006
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Firefox vuln fails to imperil World Cup

The Mozilla Foundation last week fixed multiple vulnerabilities in its popular Firefox web browser. The bugs in the open source browser affect Mozilla Firefox 1.x and Mozilla Firefox 0.x. Unpatched systems are vulnerable to cross-site scripting and HTTP response smuggling attacks and other flaws. Users risk having their system compromised by hackers unless they apply security updates, issued by Mozilla on Friday. Secunia, the security notification outfit, describes the updates as highly critical. It says the bugs stem from a variety of flaws including an error in the sandbox protection of Firefox's JavaScript implementation, memory corruption bugs, and a vulnerability in the handling of specially crafted HTTP responses. In all there are nine bugs. Fortunately, the fix is straightforward: update to Firefox version 1.5.0.4. Mozilla recently updated Firefox to incorporate automatic update features, so a large percentage of users will have already been prompted to apply this security update. For the rest of you, Secunia's advisory contains instructions on what to do and links to security notices by Mozilla. ®
John Leyden, 05 Jun 2006

Journalists' union calls for boycott of Yahoo!

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is calling for a boycott of Yahoo! because of its "unethical behaviour" in China. Yahoo! has been criticised for cooperating with Chinese law enforcement. It has given details of at least three people to Chinese authorities who were subsequently imprisoned. The most recent of these was Shi Tao who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "divulging state secrets" - he forwarded a government email sent to journalists warning them not to report on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square because it could encourage trouble. NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: "The NUJ regards Yahoo!'s actions as a completely unacceptable endorsement of the Chinese authorities. As a result, the NUJ will be cancelling all Yahoo!-operated services and advising all members to boycott Yahoo! until the company changes its irresponsible and unethical policy." Read the NUJ statement here. Seventeen years after the Tiananmen Square massacre many companies are cooperating with Chinese authorities in blocking content that Beijing considers distasteful. Microsoft was recently accused, but denied, handing over details of a dissident journalist. Other companies such as Google co-operate in blocking content in line with Chinese government demands. A spokeswoman for the NUJ said it was still waiting for a response from Yahoo!. She said other companies may be added to the boycott in future. She could not offer any advice as to alternative services to use. Yahoo! sent us the following (apologies for length): Mary Osako at Yahoo! said: “The facts of the Shi Tao case are distressing to our company, our employees, and our leadership. We condemn punishment of any activity internationally recognized as free expression, whether that punishment takes place in China or anywhere else in the world. We have made our views clearly known to the Chinese government. “When Yahoo! China in Beijing was required to provide information about the user, who we later learned was Shi Tao, we had no information about the nature of the investigation. We were unaware of the particular facts surrounding the case until the news story emerged. Law enforcement agencies in China, the United States, and elsewhere typically do not explain to information technology companies or other businesses why they demand specific information regarding certain individuals. In many cases, Yahoo! does not know the real identity of individuals for whom governments request information, as very often our users subscribe to our services without using their real names. “At the time the demand was made for information in this case, Yahoo! China was legally obligated to comply with the requirements of Chinese law enforcement. When we had operational control of Yahoo! China, we took steps to make clear our Beijing operation would honor such instructions only if they came through authorized law enforcement officers and only if the demand for information met rigorous standards establishing the legal validity of the demand. “When we receive a demand from law enforcement authorized under the law of the country in which we operate, we must comply. This is a real example of why this issue is bigger than any one company and any one industry. All companies must respond in the same way. When a foreign telecommunications company operating in the United States receives an order from U.S. law enforcement, it must comply. Failure to comply in China could have subjected Yahoo! China and its employees to criminal charges, including imprisonment. Ultimately, U.S. companies in China face a choice: comply with Chinese law, or leave. “The choice in China or other countries is not whether to comply with law enforcement demands for information. Rather, the choice is whether or not to remain in a country. We balance the requirement to comply with laws that are not necessarily consistent with our own values against our strong belief that active involvement in China contributes to the continued modernization of the country — as well as a benefit to Chinese citizens — through the advancement of communications, commerce and access to information. “We believe that the internet is a positive force in China and a growing Chinese middle class is benefiting greatly from more education, communication, and technology.” NB It's also important to correct inaccurate reports that Yahoo! Hong Kong gave information to the Chinese government. This is absolutely untrue. Yahoo! Hong Kong was not involved in any disclosure of information about Mr. Shi to the Chinese government. In this case, the Chinese government ordered Yahoo! China to provide user information, and Yahoo! China complied with Chinese law. To be clear - Yahoo! China and Yahoo! Hong Kong have always operated independently of one another. There was not then, nor is there today, any exchange of user information between Yahoo! Hong Kong and Yahoo! China." Amnesty International has called on Yahoo! to act more responsibly in China. More here. ®
John Oates, 05 Jun 2006

Thus group sells off Dutch Demon

Thus, the company behind the Demon brand, has agreed to sell its Dutch arm to telco Royal KPN NV for £47m. The deal is now before the Works Councils of both firms for rubber-stamping. The Demon ISP has 77,000 subscribers in the Nertherlands and brought in £19.8m over the past year with EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of £2.2m. The operation's assets are valued at £5.3m. Thus announced plans to concentrate on its domestic operations in a strategy review in February. The group is aiming to focus on the UK business market. It will post its annual results on 19 June. ®
Christopher Williams, 05 Jun 2006

MPs call for DRM warning labels

The UK's All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) has published a report on Digital Rights Management that calls for clearer labelling of content so consumers know what they can and cannot do with material they buy. The report says: "There is a significant mismatch between what consumers believe they ought to be permitted to do with copyrighted material and what the law allows." Most British people believe they are allowed to make a copy of a CD they have bought - this is not the case. The group further recommends that Ofcom publish guidance to warn companies using "Technical Protection Measures", like the infamous Sony rootkit, that they run a risk of prosecution. APIG also recommends extending exemptions to anti-circumvention measures for academic researchers. The group, chaired by MP Derek Wyatt, called on the Department of Trade and Industry to address the issues at a European level. APIG hopes government will take heed of its recommendations and that they will be considered by the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property (a Gordon Brown initiative that is taking a wider view of the IP issue). APIG illustrated the longevity of the debate by quoting a speech given in the Commons in 1841 by Thomas Babbington Macaulay: "Thus, then stands the case. It is good that authors should be remunerated; and the least exceptionable way of remunerating them is by monopoly. Yet monopoly is an evil. For the sake of the good we must submit to the evil; but the evil ought not to last a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of securing the good." More from APIG here. ®
John Oates, 05 Jun 2006

UK island seeks beer-loving monarch

If you're bored senseless at work and fancy a complete change of scenery coupled with immediate elevation to the monarchy, have a shufti at the website of Barrow Borough Council which is offering one lucky chap or chapess the chance to become the "King (or Queen) of Piel". The Piel in question is a 20-acre plot "situated off the southern tip of Walney Island three miles southeast of Barrow-in-Furness". It boasts Site of Special Scientific Interest status, a 14th century castle, six former coastguard cottages, and the grade-II listed Ship Inn - the licensee of which is granted the honourary royal title. The situation has been vacant since the abdication of former king Rod Scarr back in April. Scarr lived on the island with his wife and daughter and told the North-West Evening Mail: "We've seen some bad times, but they're certainly outweighed by the good ones. It's a place that gets in your blood and it has been a wrench to leave." Since King Rod's untimely exit, the council has charged itself with refurbishing the Ship Inn, and reckons it'll be fit to host a coronation early next year. Accordingly, "formal 'expressions of interest' are, therefore, sought from all persons/parties interested in the future tenancy, subject to terms and conditions to be agreed, of The Ship Inn and Piel Island". There are some nice snaps of the Piel Island kingdom here, but potential landlords should be warned that it has no mains 'leccy or phone line, is accessible by ferry only on summer weekends, and if you want to get out of the place in a hurry you'll have to wait until the tide goes out and make a dash for it across the exposed sands. On a tractor or similar, naturally. On the other hand, you might end up spending weeks stuck in a pub by a roaring log fire with no phone to interrupt your beer-fuelled armchair musings. Hmmm... ® Bootnote A hearty cheers to Roy Silcocks for alerting us to this unique opportunity.
Lester Haines, 05 Jun 2006

Intel liable for busy worker's depression

An Intel employee who became depressed when her workload increased due to corporate cost cutting has won compensation from the company in the High Court. The employee, referred to in the case as Mrs D, worked in the finance department and was responsible for integrating the payroll functions of a series of acquired companies.
OUT-LAW.COM, 05 Jun 2006

Taiwanese man spends three months in net cafe

A Taiwanese man who spent three months in an internet cafe following a row with his missus finally succumbed to a fatal combination of fatigue, lack of sleep, cigarette smoke, and instant noodles last week when he suffered a heart attack, according to Dutch news site NRC. Hsu Tai-yang, 37, turned up at the RS Cyber Cafe in Tamsu, close to Taipei, on 8 March. According to the cafe's owner, he camped out there until his untimely demise because he "didn't want to go home", as the unnamed proprietor explained to China Times. Hsu passed the time playing video games, smoking, chewing betel nuts and scoffing aforementioned instant noodles, before complaining of breathing difficulties and shortly thereafter popping his clogs. ® Bootnote Thanks to Mark Praagman for providing a translation of the original report.
Lester Haines, 05 Jun 2006
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Microsoft and Adobe get the lawyers out

Microsoft is digging in for legal action from Adobe after the two fell out over the inclusion of a "save as pdf" feature in next year's Office suite. Microsoft associate general counsel Horacio Gutierrez told the Reg: "We've been discussing this for several weeks, and of course have been partners for many years, but talks have now ended. It concerns Office and the "save as" feature. In the end we agreed to remove the features and make them downloadable by customers, but Adobe felt this was not enough. Gutierrez said: "They want us to charge our customers even though pdf is a royalty-free license - it's free in Star Office, in Open Office and in Apple, so we'd be the only ones charging for it. "We expect a legal letter from them but their position differs 180 degrees from previous public statements." Adobe gives away the "reader" software needed to view pdf. attachments but likes to charge for products required to create pdfs. Microsoft's next version of Office promises a pdf-like format called xps. Adobe could not be reached by press time. ®
John Oates, 05 Jun 2006

World Cup by broadband endangers networks

Fresh from been accused of creating optical damage to viewers as a result of presenter Kate Silverton's psychedelic blouse, the BBC is being charged with jeopardising corporate networks, and by implication the UK economy. The British broadcaster plans to offer broadband-connected office workers the chance to watch World Cup games at their desks. The move risks bringing corporate networks to a halt, warns network management firm Packeteer, in what we suspect will be the first in a string of announcements for networking vendors on the subject. World Cup time is a dreadful time to close sales, but the PR departments of IT vendors (bless them) are kept busy warning of the possibility of World Cup viruses or network meltdowns each time the world's greatest sports tournament comes around. These warnings rarely materalise into real problems. Though, in fairness, Packeteer does have a point when it says streaming video of World Cup matches has never been widely available before. It reckons widespread use of the technology could cause network congestion and slow down the performance of business critical applications. That's bad news because IT managers are already struggling to control company networks. Packeteer country manager for UK and Ireland Mike Hemes gamely avoids the temptation to directly plug its products in warning of the upcoming network apocalypse. "Businesses need to ensure that mechanisms are put in place to identify and control non-sanctioned internet traffic in order to maintain employee productivity, protect the network from overload, and prioritise bandwidth for the most critical applications to guarantee performance during working hours," he said. "Managers can establish flexible policies to allow employees to watch matches at non-critical times." Our prediction is that workers hoping to catch up with the footy while ostensibly working will find the quality inferior to what broadcast coverage offers. After 10 minutes of trying to get their connection working while attempting to watch Germany against Costa Rica on Friday, they'll decide it's already late into the afternoon and head down the pub, as nature intended. ®
John Leyden, 05 Jun 2006
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PGP launches network storage crypto

PGP has added another layer to its encryption platform by launching NetShare, which scrambles data headed to and from networked storage. PGP says authorised users will be able to access their data from the desktop as normal, and IT administrators will no longer require the right to view files to maintain the network. The software is designed to slot into existing network set-ups, whether they use existing PGP encryption or not. Worried company bosses will have access to a master key that can decrypt employees's data if they deem necessary. The firm is hoping NetShare will bring them new customers for their other products too, as it completes their encryption of the entire "information lifecycle". CEO Phil Dunkelburger said: "Industry estimates vary, but approximately 50 per cent of all data security breaches occur from within an organisation. PGP NetShare provides persistent protection to content, wherever it resides." NetShare encrypts any file format and works with Windows, NAS and SAN servers. It's available Q4 this year and starts at $149 for a single unit. ®
Christopher Williams, 05 Jun 2006
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Contrite former spammer touts anti-spam services

A prolific spammer has agreed to sell his house to settle a million dollar fine levied after Microsoft and the State of Texas sued him over his prolific junk mail activities. Ryan Pitylak, 24, of Austin, Texas, is selling his $430,000 house, a BMW luxury car and other assets to help pay the fine and legal bills after settling a law suit brought for violation of the US's CAN-SPAM Act, AP reports. Pityak, who was once listed as the world's fourth worst spammer, claims to have seen the error or his ways following the monster fine, a punishment for sending up to 25 million spam emails a day punting health insurance and financial services. "I am pleased to announce that I am now a part of the anti-spam community, having started an internet security company... that offers my clients advice on systems to protect against spam," he said. On his personal blog, the "contrite" former junk mailer claims to have reformed into an "anti-spam activist". He's offering his services to internet companies who wish to stop the spam he used to transmit. Mainstream security vendors are skeptical about Pitylak's offer. Net security firm Sophos, for example, questions whether Pitylak's experience is of any value and speculates that firms will baulk at working with someone who admits to behaving unethically in the past. ®
John Leyden, 05 Jun 2006

9/11 conspiracy movie taken off the web

Two French filmmakers, who accompanied New York firefighters into the World Trade Centre on 9/11, are threatening to sue the makers of 9/11 conspiracy web documentary Loose Change, claiming the movie infringes their copyright. Loose Change, one of the top downloads on Google Video and YouTube, is an 81 minute long documentary, crammed with TV news footage and still photographs, which alleges that the 9/11 attacks were not the result of terrorism, but a series of cleverly executed events carried out by the Bush administration. It suggests that American Airlines Flight 77 could not have crashed into the Pentagon, that the actual collapses of WTC 1, 2 and 7 were triggered by explosions, and that United Airlines Flight 93 did not terminate in rural Pennsylvania, but landed safely at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Loose Change began as a fictional story about 9/11 conspiracy theories, but when film maker Dylan Avery, who is in his early twenties, started researching, he became a believer himself. Edited on a $1,500 Compaq laptop, using Adobe Premiere and After Effects, the movie was released on DVD first, then unleashed on the web. Since then, more than two million people have downloaded the movie. Until recently, it was still available on a DVD for $17.95. Avery says that over 50,000 copies have been sold. A heavily edited version is still intended for cinema screening at the fifth anniversary of 9/11 in September 2006. Although praised by 9/11 conspiracists, the documentary has also been widely criticised. Mark Roberts, who compiled the Loose Change Viewer Guide, says he counted 81 "errors of fact and instances of conjecture not supported by evidence, logical fallacies, uses of images that do not support the conclusions being drawn, and other flubs". It is a copyright dispute that is currently causing problems for the Loose Change makers right now though. In a certified letter sent to Dylan Avery, lawyers for Jules and Gedeon Naudet, makers of the renowned documentary 9/11 - The Filmmakers' Commemorative Edition, say they have never endorsed nor sponsored the controversial views in the film. The brothers captured what is thought to be the only footage of the first plane hitting the North tower "It is clear that your intent is not to spread a controversial message but rather to profit," the lawyers conclude. They have identified at least 14 videofragments, including interviews with firemen. The Naudet Brothers, backed by distributor Paramount, are demanding $150,000 for each act of willful infringement. Although Avery has removed the movie from his site, and says "he fully cooperates with the Naudet brothers", he still encourages viewing the movie on Google Video. But maybe not for long. Google says it only accepts video uploads from persons who hold all necessary rights to the uploaded material. "Our policy is to respond to any notices of alleged infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)," the company says. "If we receive a notice or otherwise have reason to believe that content you submitted infringes another party's copyright, your account may be terminated and the video removed from Google Video." A spokesman for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz confirmed the firm was handling a case for the Naudets, but refused to comment further. ®
Jan Libbenga, 05 Jun 2006

Film triggers global warming to Al Gore

ReviewReview As An Inconvenient Truth started, our worst nightmare seemed all too near. The movie opens with Al Gore's nasal drone serving as the voice over. Images of a river and forest dominate the screen as Gore becomes consumed with cheesy hokum and talk about his long lost days sitting on the riverbank, chewing cud and communing with the mystic. Our movie companion started gyrating, as she tried to hold in the laughter. Our concerns were more desperate. We'd actually waited in line for an hour to see this thing, and were now doubting that we could take more than 10 minutes of the film. Surely, it could not continue like this. Someone would make Gore stop. Well, Gore doesn't stop, but the movie does get much, much better. Broadly, An Inconvenient Truth is the most polished PowerPoint (Keynote, actually) presentation you're going to find. During the majority of the movie, Gore rolls out a dressed up version of the global warming spiel he has been giving across the globe for years. The basic science of global warming is delivered via a decently funny animation. Countless images of melting ice caps and glaciers pepper the screen. Charts galore show the dramatic rise in carbon dioxide over the past forty years and the accompanying dramatic rise in temperature. More charts show how no real scientist disputes the global warming trend, while more than 50 per cent of journalists do raise objections to the "theory." The photos prove the greatest selling point for Gore's agenda, while the statistics and projections will likely scare the hell out of you. It's rare to see dry information presented in such an entertaining way. The movie is by no means a "movie" in the traditional sense, and it suffers because of it. A true documentary may have been more gripping. That said, this really is about the best stump speech for global warming that one can imagine, and it's well worth the ticket price. Even nay-sayers should drive their Hummers to the theaters if for no other reason than gaining material for taunting hippies. Of course, the hippies will dominate attendance for An Inconvenient Truth and only become more convinced about how awful things are. Few folks in the pro global warming camp will see this film, largely because Al Gore is involved. The producers really should have talked Britney Spears into taking on the main role with Gore serving more as a coach. We were shocked to find a massive line outside of the local theatre for An Inconvenient Truth, which happened to be showing on two screens. We were even more shocked to find Al Gore likable. We never would have voted for Gore before this movie but would consider it seriously now. The man is human. Very human. Who knew? We give An Inconvenient Truth 4 out of 5 duck-rabbits. There's more information available here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 05 Jun 2006

Toshiba touts 200GB notebook drive

Toshiba has claimed a first with its MK2035GSS 2.5in notebook hard drive which uses perpendicular recording technology to achieve a massive 200GB of storage.
Leo Waldock, 05 Jun 2006