27th > June > 2006 Archive

For Sale sign detail

NetApp aims at SMBs

NetApp has launched a new SMB storage box, the StoreVault S500, which the company reckons is the first all in one NAS solution accessible for smaller budgets. NetApp CEO Dan Warmenhoven said: "Other vendors push customers to purchase multiple products to do SAN and NAS or make an up-front technology choice even as iSCSI and Fibre Channel are emerging in the SMB market." The StoreVault S500 is scaleable to 6TB and available now, starting at $5,000. More from the press release here. NetApp recently targeted the other end of the storage scale with the release of ONTAP GX. ®
Christopher Williams, 27 Jun 2006

Flu-related flapping begins

The bird flu hysteria-mongering has begun, as a doctor prepares to tell the British Medical Association that preparations for a flu pandemic are "woefully inadequate" and could lead to "1,000 September 11ths". Quite what he means by this is something of a mystery, since we know of no correlation between sick birds and the likelihood of several planes coming to blows with tall buildings. Still, Dr Steve Hajioff wants UK planners to stop worrying about stockpiling vaccines, and focus instead on making sure the country's infrastructure would continue to function in the event of many thousands of people becoming ill at once. After all, if almost half the population was to fall ill at the same time the economic impact would, surely, be greater even than that of people skiving off work to watch the footie. Dr Hajioff told The Scotsman: "We are expecting a real flu pandemic of the kind we have not seen for years and this is one of the biggest catastrophes. What's more, it's a totally predictable one, but if we act now we can mitigate its effects." He argues that if a pandemic as lethal as the one that swept the world in 1918 were to strike again, hundreds of thousands of people across the country would die. The 1918 outbreak saw about 2.5 per cent of the population killed by the virus. "In the present day, you are talking about five million people across Europe and hundreds of thousands in the UK. It's like 1,000 September 11ths all at once," he said. "I'm a GP and I can prepare my surgery, but if the electricity company that supplies my power has not prepared, then I am not going to be able to treat patients." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jun 2006

Child porn convictions to be reported to banks

Police will be able to pass details of child pornography offenders on to banks so that offenders' credit cards can be revoked. The Home Secretary has issued an order for the amendment of the Data Protection Act which will be read in both houses of Parliament. The order was requested by credit card issuers and is the result of three years of negotiation between the industry and the Home Office, according to a spokeswoman for issuers' organisation APACS, the UK payments association. "We asked for this because at the moment if someone uses a card to purchase illegal pornography there is no way under data protection legislation for the Police to pass that information on to card issuers," an APACS spokeswoman said. "We already have the power to take a card from someone, but if they committed one of these offences we wouldn't know about it." The order relates specifically to offences relating to child pornography and allows the authorities to inform a credit card issuer of the identity of someone who has used one of its cards to commit a child pornography offence. The purpose of the order, as outlined in its explanatory note, is to change the legislation so that information about a criminal conviction or caution may be processed for the purpose of administering an account relating to the payment card (or for cancelling the payment card) used in the commission of one of the listed offences relating to indecent images of children and for which the data subject has been convicted or cautioned under the relevant legislation in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Data protection expert Dr Chris Pounder of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said the draft order was tightly enough drawn not to raise privacy concerns. "Although the order will legitimise the processing of these sensitive personal data that does not exclude application of the other principles," said Pounder. "For example, the sensitive personal data have to be retained for no longer than is necessary and have to be relevant to the purpose. Additionally, these personal data might be subject to an enhanced security regime." In a separate case, data protection rights were strengthened in Europe with the ruling of the European Ombudsman that a German local government violated the EU Data Protection Directive. When the State of Hamburg handed personal information to third parties for use in direct marketing, one resident complained to the European Commission. The commission said that while Hamburg could not use the information for its own direct marketing, it could send it to third parties. The resident took the case to the European Ombudsman, who said the commission's ruling had been too narrow. In order to avoid further action, the Ombudsman recommended that the commission review its interpretation of the directive. The commission has agreed to do so. See: Draft Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2006 Explanatory Memorandum to the draft Order (2 page/23KB PDF) European Ombudsman's decision Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 27 Jun 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Publisher in £80,000 font raid

A publishing firm fell foul of the law by using unlicensed typefaces worth £80,000, according to licensing lobby group the Business Software Alliance (BSA). The publishing firm had claimed to be using just one font but in fact was found using 11,000.
OUT-LAW.COM, 27 Jun 2006
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Wiltshire eyes up flexible working

The county council has signed a £12m deal to improve its IT services. The deal will allow the council to steam ahead with its plans to provide more joined up and flexible services to local people and help its staff work more flexibly. Changes to the IT infrastructure will also make it easier for "people to contact the council and have their queries answered", the council said in a statement. French owned IT firm Steria won the contract, which will come into force in October when the council's existing five year contract with Sungard Avista runs out. The new deal will involve full support for the council's computer network and includes emergency and disaster recovery. The IT firm will also plan and deliver a wide range of IT related projects, including mobile and flexible working structures, to help improve efficiency and reduce costs. Wiltshire County Council leader Jane Scott said: "We rely on our computer systems to help us deliver services to local people as quickly and efficiently as possible. To make sure we can continue to do this we need to have well maintained systems and comprehensive support. This new contract will improve our capacity in all of these areas." 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, 27 Jun 2006
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Server vendors prepare for 120W 'Clovertown'

Early indications that Intel's upcoming four-core 'Covertown' server processor will consume up to 120W have been confirmed by sources from within Taiwan's motherboard-manufacturer community. And they claim systems made for the dual-core 'Woodcrest' Xeon have been designed with Clovertown's thermal envelope in mind.
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2006

USB drives pose insider threat

In a recent test of a credit union's network security, consultants working for New York-based security audit firm Secure Network Technologies scattered 20 USB flash drives around the financial group's building.
Robert Lemos, 27 Jun 2006

Borneo's 'chameleon' snake shows its true colours

Biologists in Borneo have discovered a new species of snake boasting chameleon-like, colour-changing abilities, Reuters reports. The 50-cm venomous animal - a member of the Enhydris genus - was captured in the Indonesian Betung National Park's wetland and swamp forest area, and has been dubbed the Kapuas mud snake after the local river. Reptile hunter Mark Auliya told The Times: "I put the reddish-brown snake in a dark bucket. When I retrieved it a few minutes later, it was almost entirely white." The WWF's Stuart Chapman added: "The discovery of the 'chameleon' snake exposes one of nature's best-kept secrets deep in the heart of Borneo. Its ability to change colour has kept it hidden from science until now. I guess it just picked the wrong colour that day." Two specimens of Kapuas mud snake were recovered. Most other species of the 22-strong Enhydris genus have a very limited range, leading the biologists to suggest the latest club member "may not occur anywhere else except the Kapuas River drainage system". They further suspect its diet is made up of "rats, mice and possibly fish". The WWF - which is backing conservation efforts in Borneo - confirmed it was rare for snakes to exhibit this "physiological colour change" ability, aka "pigment translocation".* ® Bootnote *Neither of these terms really do justice to this remarkable skill, so we've decided to dub it "chromo plasticity".
Lester Haines, 27 Jun 2006
Cat 5 cable

IBM takes a stab at SMBs

CommentComment IBM has announced new BladeCentre and server offerings targeting SMBs who are seeking enhanced management capabilities. Among the announcements were the IBM Server Connectivity Module for IBM BladeCentre, which delivers Ethernet interconnectivity between the processor blades, management modules, and the external network environment for SMBs that have limited on-site networking skills; management technology leveraging System i's virtual storage, networking, and tape resources designed to simplify Windows server management; IBM Implementation Services Servicepac for BladeCentre, a service offering to help SMBs quickly deploy a BladeCenter; and a new financing package for SMB customers or smaller departmental acquisitions. A new iSCSI host bus adapter (iSCSI HBA) provides systems management and disk consolidation features and enables BladeCentre and System x to integrate with System i through a standard iSCSI connection on i5/OS V5R4 while coexisting with IXS and System x models attached via IXA. From this, organisations can manage multiple Windows servers with System i Navigator & IBM Director, centralise Windows data and take advantage of System i virtual storage architecture and resources for dynamic storage management and performance, and consolidate Windows and i5/OS backups while using high-speed System i tape drives. Additionally, System i management provides for the synchronisation of Windows and i5/OS user IDs and passwords as well as simplified network configuration, data access, and application communication through virtual network connections. The Server Connectivity Module for IBM BladeCentre is now available priced starting at $999 in the US. The System i management feature for Windows will be available on 19 May, starting at $999. The IBM Implementation Services Servicepac for BladeCenter is available through IBM IGS and IBM Business Partners in the US and Canada for $6,999. What we consider to be one of the best kept secrets in the industry is how System i can manage a seemingly complex entanglement of Windows-based systems. Although those in the know are quite aware of the management agility of the System i, many organisations simply do not equate System i with Windows management. To our way of thinking, this is a shame. With the announcement of the iSCSI HBA we believe that a greater portion of the marketplace would be able to take advantage of System i, as iSCSI is a growing connectivity option, especially for SMBs. With the coming support for select System x and BladeCentre, we believe that iSCSI could play an important role for System i. But in order for this to happen, some serious marketing acumen will need to be deployed. We cannot overlook that the public announcement of iSCSI HBA, as with System i 520 Collaboration Edition, has been low key, if not completely mute. This is worrisome, as System i should be positioned as an SMB "go to" solution for consolidation, Windows administration, centralized backup and file sharing, among many others. But rather than hearing System i beating its chest extolling its virtues, we are witnessing other server families in effect positioning System i, by default. Recent announcements from System z about entry-point solutions attractive to mid-sized business can cause iFUD if System i is not properly positioned differentiated against System z. This week's announcement of System i connectivity and management came under the auspices of BladeCenter, and one had to squint pretty hard to see it as well. When the System i5 was announced, we commented that the iSeries had some great hardware underneath, but would need to extol the virtues of its software stack in order to take back and revitalise the market. While there was some initial marketing push, it is not so evident at present. The recent sales figures for System i have been lacklustre, and one cannot help but wonder if the lack of aggressive marketing, like that found with other IBM Systems, has something to do with the platform's sales doldrums. We still like System i, in fact we like it a lot, but stealth marketing is not going to be the answer to grow System i to the market position of which we believe the platform is worthy. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com Clay Ryder is president of analyst and consulting firm The Sageza Group. Prior to founding The Sageza Group, Clay was vice president and chief analyst at Zona Research.
Clay Ryder, 27 Jun 2006
SGI logo hardware close-up

Cisco invests in NeoPath

CommentComment NeoPath Networks, a startup provider of file storage virtualisation, has announced it received $11m in a funding round that includes Cisco Systems and previous investors August Capital, DCM-Doll Capital Management, and Gabriel Venture Partners. NeoPath indicates it will use the funds to continue customer and partner growth and to further enhance its products. NeoPath was founded in 2002, and offers a storage appliance that optimises file storage management. The product sits in the network and manages files stored across NAS systems in a single pool, using virtual namespace and load balancing. Customers include companies in the service provider space, as well as financial services, government, aerospace, and manufacturing industries. Cisco is NeoPath's first strategic investor, but it is not specified how much Cisco has contributed to funding. The storage market continues to be a hot space, with many startups competing alongside industry giants in a space with double-digit growth. So too, is the file virtualisation space hot, and the number of startups is dwindling rapidly. Cisco is not the first company to show interest in this space. When NeoPath got started, it was competing with Rainfinity, which is now part of EMC and sold as the EMC Rainfinity Global File Virtualisation appliance. NeoPath also competed with NuView, which was purchased by Brocade and is now part of its Tapestry family of software products. Other startups include Acopia Networks and Attune Systems. File virtualisation will only continue to grow in importance. Networked storage became popular in the form of NAS and SAN when users had too much storage lurking on individual servers. It made more sense to store data in central locations. File virtualisation has emerged now that organisations must manage the islands of files stored throughout the network, especially as ILM approaches become more popular. With ILM, storage managers try to match data or files to equipment with the appropriate costs and performance. With ILM, where information resides also depends on its age, so tiered storage is also causing information to move, driving up demand for file virtualisation. In essence, growing stores of information require better management and the vendors are doing their best to make sure their solutions have all the pieces, both through organic development as well as through acquisition. Cisco has contributed to this latest round of funding but has refused to comment on any future plans, including possible OEM deals or an outright purchase of NeoPath. Nevertheless, the investment has sent the high-tech community into a buzz. If Cisco believes that NeoPath is a good storage migration tool and wants to grow its presence in the virtualisation space for networked storage, then indeed the industry should have excitement about any movement the company makes. We believe this bodes well for NeoPath in helping it in a market that has both startups as well as veterans competing in it. Any help from Cisco will give NeoPath broader exposure and help it be better positioned against smaller rivals. For Cisco, working with NeoPath at any level will help it build its capabilities. Through its relationship with EMC, it does have exposure to Rainfinity, but NeoPath could become a partner for developing its own products and compete more against Brocade. The market will continue to watch these two in their corporate dance with great interest. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com Joyce Becknell is research director at The Sageza Group, addressing strategic and tactical issues for clients located in Europe. She works with vendors, business partners, regional and local ISV and channel partners. Prior to joining Sageza, Joyce has worked as an industry analyst covering IBM, Sun, HP, Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, and Compaq, and has worked for both Dell and Tricord.
Joyce Becknell, 27 Jun 2006

Solar simulation right on the money

California scientists have for the first time created a computer simulation that can accurately model the solar corona, or outer atmosphere of the sun. The researchers at Science Applications International say the breakthrough should lead to dramatic improvements in the accuracy of space weather forecasts, helping scientists better predict the events on the sun's surface that affect the infrastructure on Earth. Simulations of the corona's behaviour could give scientists clues about when the sun will produce flares, or coronal mass ejections, the researchers say. These huge ejections of solar plasma have a direct impact on orbiting satellites and land-based power and communications systems. The research team used the model to simulate solar activity during an eclipse period, and produced two sets of simulated photographs of the eclipse before the 29 March event. As the images above show, the actual eclipse matched the predictions very closely, although the fine detail is missing (the left and centre images are the simulations, while the right-most image is an actual photograph of the corona, taken during the eclipse). Previous simulations of the corona have been based on very simplified models of the corona. This new simulation, funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, is rooted in the physics of how energy is transferred in the corona. It is based on satellite observations of the corona, and the magnetic activity in the sun that shapes it, taken from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. This makes the calculations much more time-intensive (it took 700 computer processors four days to produce the simulated images), but far more accurate. The corona is very faint relative to the main body of the sun. Without specialist equipment, it can only be seen during a total solar eclipse when the moon blocks most of the sun's direct light. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jun 2006

Crap website? Try feng shui

Is your website underperforming? Does it lack spiritual balance? Do you have the sneaking suspicion than an inauspicious alignment of html elements may be to blame? Fear not - help is at hand in the form of Web Vaastu, a book by Indian cybermystic Dr Smita Narang which uses the "the ancient philosophies of vaastu shastra and Chinese feng shui" to "create harmony between nature's five elements" and bring a positive ch'i flow to your online presence. Narang explained to Reuters: "Just as the world comprises of the five basic elements, each website has five elements and these need to be in balance with one another. Earth is the layout, fire is the colour, air is the HTML, space is name of the website, and water is the font and graphics." The trick is, as any reader who's ever spent the afternoon moving mirrors and pot plants around their flat in order to improve the flow of good vibrations will know, to strike a harmonious balance between these elements. "A website where the colours hurt your eyes, the music offends your ears, or has too much information is probably too cluttered and does not give a positive flow of ch'i," added Mumbai-based Narang, presumably while enjoying a spiritually-uplifing ambience of whalesong and joss-stick fragrance. There does seem, however, to be some method in the apparent madness, although the results are inconclusive. Indiamart is one outfit which has rebalanced five corporate websites according to vaastu principles, and the company's Brijesh Agarwal said: "We have found that on three sites the number of hits has increased by 60 per cent but the other two sites have not been affected. I can't say for definite that the positive results are due to vaastu or due to increased marketing, but I hope that vaastu has helped." We hope so too. For the record, the Reg's very own Strategy Boutique has immediately placed an order for Web Vaastu, and is as we speak in the process of preparing a Powerpoint presentation for senior management outlining the results of a ying/yang e-audit of our own homepage. Watch this space. ®
Lester Haines, 27 Jun 2006

Personal computer failure rates reduce

PCs are more reliable than they used to be, market watcher Gartner has claimed. Desktops and notebooks bought in the period 2003-2004 were more likely to experience hardware failures than those purchased in 2005 and 2006, the researcher said this week.
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2006

Kiwi Telecom to split retail and wholesale operations

Telecom New Zealand (Telecom) has announced plans to create an "independent wholesale operation" in a bid to promote telecoms competition. Today's confirmation that Telecom plans to separate its wholesale and retail operations follows growing speculation about the future of the Kiwi incumbent after the government raised concerns about its market dominance and the lack of broadband competition. If successful, rival operators should be able to get equal access to Telecom's wholesale network, giving them greater scope to compete and invest in broadband services. "The country expects world-class broadband services, and our decision to reorganise our business is one more step towards ensuring healthy competition exists to provide that," incoming Telecom chairman Wayne Boyd said. "We have looked at a number of arrangements in place or under consideration around the world, including BT in Britain and Telstra in Australia. We now intend to initiate the best form of separation to suit New Zealand's conditions." Among the proposals outlined today is the idea of creating a level playing field for all retail operators - including Telecom - with the whole separation overseen by an independent monitoring group. Further details of Telecom's plans are due to be published early in August. In May it emerged that the Kiwi government was planning to drive through a series of measures to force Telecom to unbundle the local loop and increase competition. A raft of proposals - including LLU, increased regulation, and the promotion of investment by rival operators in fibre, wireless and satellite networks - were put forward as a way to drag New Zealand out of the bottom third of the OECD's league table of broadband countries. Execs from Telecom visited BT and Ofcom to see what measures have been undertaken in the UK to improve competition. At the time industry onlookers said the visit showed that Telecom was considering the idea of splitting its wholesale and retail businesses to head off criticism from its own government. ®
Tim Richardson, 27 Jun 2006

MDM - a strategy for IBM

CommentComment This is the second article of two stemming from IBM's recent European MDM (master data management) conference. In the first article I discussed how I disagreed (at least in part) with the view of MDM that was put across at that conference. This article concentrates specifically on what IBM is doing in this space. In Harriet Fryman's recently published MDM Report, IBM did not score highly. However, my inclination is to think it will score much better in the future, because the company's strategy appears to be the right one, at least in so far as it intends to move away from a siloed approach with separate emphases on products, customers, suppliers and whatever, towards a more broadly-based platform that supports non-domain specific master data management. IBM will score highly because it is likely to be the first company to introduce this sort of MDM platform. I understand that a number of the specialist vendors are trying to extend their existing products but are having some difficulty in achieving this—people data and "thing" data are significantly different (IBM's view is that location data is also different, though I am not convinced on this count: location is, after all, a thing with a different set of attributes). Of the other major vendors, Oracle has issues to resolve with respect to Oracle versus Siebel, before it can start to put together a platform and SAP appears to be behind the curve. Other major players that may enter the market like Informatica, Business Objects, Microsoft and Sybase, have even further to go. One other thing I think IBM should do is to stop focusing on its products purely as hubs. Yes, some companies want hubs. And, yes, there are lots of bucks in hubs. But there are also lots of companies that would be better suited by a registry or repository-based approach, possibly with the intention of migrating to a hub later. You can, in fact, implement IBM's products in this manner but it is hardly mentioned in corporate marketing and nor is there any detail about how you would move from the federated model of a registry/repository to the persistent model of a hub (the services interfaces would be the same). Another thing that IBM is well suited for is to create synergies between MDM and CMDB (configuration management databases) about which I wrote here recently. In fact, I asked a number of IBM personnel at the conference about this and the responses, when I found people who understood what I was talking about, were illuminating. The first thing I heard was that a number of customers have apparently asked the same question and the second thing was that, yes, they have been talking to the Tivoli guys. Of course, talk is cheap and they couldn't tell me anything about concrete plans but at least that is hopeful. Moreover, it would give IBM an edge over its competition in either the ITIL or MDM spaces because of the ability to redeploy the same technology for multiple purposes, which could well make investment decisions easier for users. This raises perhaps the most interesting aspect of the conference: where do you sell MDM? MDM is essentially an IT function and that tends to be difficult to sell, which is why reuse as a CMDB would be useful and also why an iterative registry-repository-hub approach could be beneficial. To sell MDM to the business you need some sort of business case. One such might be data governance and IBM made a substantial play about MDM supporting data governance at the conference, including working with IBM Global Services to provide a framework and best practices for setting up data governance procedures and policies. The other possibility is specific applications such as "new product introduction" or "enterprise customer search", which address specific business pain points. However, the problem with this application-based approach is that not all users will be able to think for themselves of potential applications, so it really needs IBM to suggest them. Actually, this is more broadly true of IBM. It is also true of the XML/relational applications that IBM hopes users will build using the latest release of DB2, and it is true of Entity Analytic Solutions (where might its capabilities best be embedded?) and so on. MDM is not a technology looking for a solution - it has clear benefits - but quantifying those benefits and putting them in business terms is not so easy. My message to IBM from this conference is that it is on the right track but that it needs to clarify both its technological strategy and its business value. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com
Philip Howard, 27 Jun 2006
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Symantec turns off on security appliances

Symantec is scaling down its hardware offering by pulling the plug on a range of network security appliances. The vendor will stop designing and making the Symantec Security, Symantec Network Security 7100 and Advanced Manager 3.0 products. While it will continue to develop the software underpinning the devices, it is apparently hoping other companies will step forward and make the hardware. Byte and Switch suggests the move represents a shift towards core competencies, and a reluctance to go head to head with the likes of Juniper and Cisco, as they build more security nous into their kit. As Symantec has expanded through acquisition, particularly of Veritas, hardware has presumably become a smaller part of its business. And with standard servers as cheap as chips, dedicated appliances become a harder pitch. The move mean 80 people losing their jobs at Symantec.®
Joe Fay, 27 Jun 2006

Sony unveils Flash-based UMPC

Sony has extended its Vaio UX ultra-mobile PC line by introducing a model that drops the hard drive in favour of a Flash-based storage unit. There's a catch, of course: the machine's storage capacity is down to 16GB from the 30GB of the HDD-based original.
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2006

Toshiba open to re-opening HD DVD/Blu-ray merger talks

Toshiba has once again said it's open to the development of a single, unified next-generation optical disc format to end the battle between the HD DVD format it backs and the Sony-led Blu-ray Disc camp.
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2006

Brits offered wireless-stereo PMP

UK retailer Advanced MP3 Players has launched what it reckons is a portable media player capable of "taking on the big boys" - a wireless PMP that never needs to be connected to a host computer and can show movies for eight hours solid.
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2006
fingers pointing at man

EC polishing big stick for Microsoft

The EU looks set to come down hard on Microsoft after deciding the software company has breached the 2004 anti-trust settlement.
Joe Fay, 27 Jun 2006

BT wants more women engineers

Openreach - BT's access services division - has launched a major recruitment drive to tempt more women to become phone engineers. According to correspondence published recently by regulator Ofcom, BT has a shortfall of several hundred engineers needed to carry out essential work. The "Open2all" initiative unveiled today is meant to address this shortage and overcome the hurdles currently preventing women from taking up careers as telecoms engineers. As part of the scheme BT wants to alter the "currently perceived male dominated environment synonymous with engineering to make the role more attractive to women". It is also looking at increasing flexible working practices such as job sharing and introducing child-friendly hours and other "work/life balance measures". "Research shows that there is a huge business case for gender diversity - more women in the workforce can contribute to increased levels of innovation, creativity and productivity," Openreach exec Andrew Jones said. "Openreach's primary role is to serve communications providers' customers to the best of our ability, and a more representative workforce will allow us to do that." ®
Tim Richardson, 27 Jun 2006

Plane pollution worse by 2050

As the Supreme Court weighs into the climate change debate stateside, new research from the UK indicates that aviation will account for five per cent of the world's CO2 emissions by 2050. The industry is currently responsible for only two per cent of global carbon emissions. The findings, published by climate modellers at Manchester Metropolitan University, are part of a pan-European study of the impact various forms of transport have on the environment. The fact that aviation will become a more important source of carbon emissions is not surprising as the research itself is based on the aviation industry's own predictions for traffic increases to 2025. And the researchers say shipping is likely to be even more polluting than air travel. But MMU's Professor David Lee warned that the results "highlight that the rate of growth of aviation is far outstripping the rate of technological progress and improvements in efficiency". He also highlighted that the carbon output of the air industry is not the most worrying aspect of its growth. He called for more research into the effect non-carbon emissions - such as plane contrails - have on the upper atmosphere. Meanwhile, in the US, the Supreme Court is set to consider whether it can or should force the government to curtail carbon emissions. Environmental groups and representatives from a dozen states are calling for carbon dioxide to be classified as a pollutant, and say the environmental protection agency should be made to curb the country's emissions. However, the Bush administration argues that CO2 is not a pollutant, and that even if it were, regulating emissions should be done at the government's discretion. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jun 2006
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Centerprise opts out of Elonex bidding

Centerprise has passed on the opportunity to buy fellow British PC manufacturer Elonex Plc out of adminstration. Acquisitive PC and services company Centerprise put in a bid for the North West London-based vendor, had it rejected, and decided not to haggle. Centerprise CEO Richard Pursey said: "We put in a bid for Elonex we thought was fair given the state of the market and Elonex, which has been struggling for some time now." Though he refused to say what the bid was, he did say he had been outdone by another firm. Viglen, Research Machines, and a bidder from outside the industry are thought to be still haggling over Elonex with administrators Deloitte & Touche. Elonex slipped into administration earlier this month. "[Elonex] has been suffering from margin erosion because it wasn't supporting its clients so much," Pursey said. "There's no point picking up a business if it's going to damage your own company. "We didn't put a huge effort into the Elonex deal because we were aware of the risk which was picking up liabilities," he said. Pursey, who joined Centerprise two years ago when it acquired his business continuity firm, Adam Consulting, said he was still on the look out for further acquisitions. Other purchases in recent years include Welsh PC manufacturer CFL. "We know where we are going and we know how we want to get there and when one of these deals comes along, unless it fits our strategy we are just not interested," said Pursey. "Management defocus is the theft of profit," he added. Deloitte & Touche was unavailable for comment.®
Mark Ballard, 27 Jun 2006

Oz censor offs Reservoir Dogs game

Australia has effectively banned Eidos' upcoming Reservoir Dogs game. The nation's Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), which vets all movie, video and game releases, has not granted the title a certificate, and the game can't be sold without one.
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2006

German T-shirt hawker set to sue bear hunter

An enterprising German businessman says he will sue the hunter who killed Bruno the bear, now his souvenir T-shirt racket has been shot down too. Munich ursine apparel magnate Peter Nesselthaler had hundreds of shirts printed bearing Bruno's likeness and the challenge to bungling Bavarian wildlife authorities "you'll never catch me". Soon after, open season was declared the rogue animal and he was shot. Ananova reports he said: "I can't believe they really did it, he had not harmed anyone. I am going to demand damages for all the merchandise I had printed for the bear tourists that I will not be able to sell now." Bruno was the first wild bear spotted in Germany for 170 years. His adventures, including snacking on rabbits on the steps of a police station, evading Finnish hunting dogs, and coming off best in a collision with a car, have been the only diversion from the World Cup in German news reports lately. The stinging irony of the tournament's slogan, "A Time to Make Friends", has been noted by bear lovers.®
Christopher Williams, 27 Jun 2006

World Cup Camera Phone Contest Gallery

CompetitionCompetition Welcome to the Reg Hardware World Cup Camera Phone Contest winners gallery. We'll be posting all the winning entries here every day throughout the remainder of the 2006 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament...
Register Hardware, 27 Jun 2006
fingers pointing at man

Microsoft talks unified comms for Office 2007

Microsoft has announced integrated software intended to turn the upcoming Office 2007 into a platform for unified voice, email, IM and video communications. Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division, named six client, server and device products plus alliances with Hewlett Packard, Motorola and Siemens as part of a carefully coordinated event in San Francisco, California, to state its vision. Featuring in Microsoft's plans for later this year and 2007 are the Office Communications Server 2007 featuring Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for presence-based VoIP call management, audio, video, and web-conferencing and IM within existing applications, plus Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 unified messaging that will provide a single inbox for email and voice messages along with a speech-based attendant. Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 will work with Office Communications Server 2007 and feature presence-based, VoIP softphone, enterprise-level IM and connection to external networks such as MSN, AOL and Yahoo!. These functions will be available for desktops, Windows Mobile and via the browser. The push in to unified communications is part of a concerted effort by Microsoft to convince customers to upgrade to Office 2007, a product that appears to offer very little in terms of must-have features. One tactic from Microsoft in prompting Office 2007 has seen the company positioning its suite as a window into data in customers' back office systems, hence Microsoft's integration with its own Dynamics software, called Snap, and SAP systems through Duet. Put into a historical perspective this week's news is also the latest manifestation of Microsoft's battle with IBM/Lotus. Lotus first introduced the concept of integrated voice and email inbox in its Notes software prior to acquisition by IBM. IBM, meanwhile, is this summer expected to deliver the latest version of its IM client. The Sametime 7.5 client will, like Office Communications Server 2007, lets users use IM inside Office and offers presence. Sametime 7.5 is aimed at corporate users on RIM and Nokia devices and systems running Windows Mobile. ®
Gavin Clarke, 27 Jun 2006

Sony, Samsung LCD JV 'to build 8G plant'

Sony and Samsung's LCD partnership will extend to the eighth-generation panels after the pair agreed to put up the cash for a new plant in South Korea, it has been claimed.
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2006

Building cohesion into programming

There are many reasons for getting cohesive.
Kevlin Henney, 27 Jun 2006
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Computer Software Group buys Laserform (the company)

Computer Software Group (CS Group), the acquisitive VAR, has bought its second software-for-lawfirms specialist. This time around it has bought Laserform, an apps developer for law firms, for £4.8m - £4.3m cash and £500K in shares. Laserform also has £1.5m in cash, so that brings down the effective purchase price to £3.3m. Laserform employs over 60 staff in London, Lymm (Cheshire) and Bristol. It claims 3000 customers and made £500K PBT on c. £4m t/o in its last financials. Last month, CS Group bought AIM, the Hull developer of practice management software for law firms for a reported £5.3m. ®
Team Register, 27 Jun 2006
globalisation

Nortel to axe 1,100 jobs

Nortel is to axe 1,100 jobs as part of a range of measures to cut costs and increase productivity. The telecoms equipment maker didn't specify where the axe would fall except to say that the job cuts would be made "globally". The Canadian networking giant said it plans to ditch around 1,900 positions in all. At the same time it will create some 800 positions, giving a net reduction of around 1,100. It also plans to shut a number of sites. "The long-term plan is to consolidate more than 100 sites globally into fewer operations centres of excellence focused on delivering engineering, product and technical support, order management, purchasing and data analysis, among other functions," Nortel said in a statement today. The total cost of the job losses and associated restructuring is thought to be in the region of $100m over the next two years. As well as axing jobs, Nortel is also overhauling its pension plan in a bid to "control costs and align with industry-benchmarked companies". These changes are expected to save the firm around $100m, rising to more than $400m by 2012. Today's announcement is the latest in a series of actions Nortel is taking to achieve "a targeted operating-margin expansion in excess of $1.5bn in 2008". ®
Team Register, 27 Jun 2006

Bird flu triggers gameplaying apocalypse

LettersLetters Let's kick off today with the utter silliness that surrounds the video game, Left Behind. Regular readers will remember, perhaps, that allegations were floating around that the game contains code that sends information about the player back to the company promoting it. This seemed perfectly in keeping with what many of you expect from the religious far-right: If you are God's specially chosen representative on earth, then don't you have a God-given right to know everything about your client base while you're making a divinely sanctioned dollar? - Tim Sounds perfectly reasonable to us... But it was our description of the game-play that provoked the inevitable "why do you hate Christians" letter: I'm not sure what the point of your article is so perhaps you could clue me in. Based upon the title and the first part it seems that the issue is spyware. Then it gets confusing. So are you angry at Christians and wish to demonize them all through the questionable acts of a few who claim to be Christians? BTW, Christ had quite a bit to say about that, but the question is whether you know that. If the game is based upon the book series, then is it safe to assume your commentary is qualified based up on reading said series and playing the game (which obviously means a pre-release or beta copy)? How authoritative are you in matters of Christianity? From what the media and the observed actions of people who call themselves Christians? Have you read the Bible all the way through? Do you know that there are differing views of Revelations? (A frequently recommended book on this subject is 'Revelations: Four Views' {ISBN: 0840721285}) I have found that if I am looking for answers then I am often surprised at what research uncovers. If however I came to conclusions based not on logic but instead on emotion, then justification of my bias will be my only result and the term "research" really isn't accurate at that point. IOW, people either seek the Truth or seek to rationalize their views. I certainly hope you educate yourself and take a mature outlook on this and every other circumstance that arises in your life. - Jason Jason, if you can find the sentence in which we condem all Christians because of this game, let us know and we'll send you a Register T-shirt. Other readers rather liked the idea of demonic United Nations remnants roaming the Earth, doing Satan's bidding: Heh, looked like such an entertaining game (who couldn't resist playing as a goat footed demon in a blue shower cap?) that I thought I'd have a closer look (alright, I was actually trawling for some easy laughs at the expense of the US religious right). Imagine how disappointed & confused I was when I got to the bottom of the game's FAQ http://www.leftbehindgames.com/pages/faq.htm and was reading the answer to "How does your game compare to more widely known games such as Grand Theft Auto or 25 to Life?", "Our game includes no intestines, no blood spatter, no severed limbs, no vulgar language, no sexual conduct, no morally reprehensible conduct – such as cop-killing, prostitute-bashing, or other criminal behavior, no Bible-bashing believers, no Bible thumpers, no radical extremists killing in the name of God, no abortion clinic stalkers…" Hang on a minute...eh?...let me just look at that again...hmmm... Well, call me picky but the whole point of a game where you go around religiously converting or killing everyone in a city the contention that it contains "no radical extremists killing in the name of God" is a bit rich. On top of that, last time I checked, murder was considered criminal behaviour whether divenely inspired or not (in non-barmy parts of the world anyway). Ah well, what do I know? I'm just a whiny non-believer liberal limey. - John Others still found the whole thing a bit distasteful: By "Non-believer" i assume they mean "Non-Christian" So the alternative to converting anyone who isn't a Christian is killing them? And this is considered ok? I know it's a game, but the principle is still being presented to the masses, and we all know that people can't be responsible for their own actions once they've played a computer game. And of course, if there was an Islamic version of the game in which you commanded Allah's forces, where one scenario perhaps involves flying a plane into a large building (or pair of buildings) full of "non-believers", which from the sound of their game would represent a fair "Military Target" these same people would be up in arms. Typical hypocrasy. That said, i'm disturbed enough to have spent a fair amount of time drowning people on Rollercoaster Tycoon, so i can't really talk........ - Simon And finally, there were those only too happy to see the devout scooped up and taken to heaven: Anything they can do to speed up their rapture departure so they can leave the rest of us the hell alone would be genuinely appreciated. I might even venture a hellilujah! - Vic Moving on. Microsoft's continuing legal battle with the European Commission is still rubbing you lot the wrong way: > Earlier this month, Microsoft's European president Jean-Philippe Courtois said the company is "some more months" away from a settlement with the European Commission. The guys need to be taught some good manners. There is NO settlement in question - there is ruling. You we found to be GUILTY bastards. Period. Ihar News that criminal records of child pornographers will be shared with banking establishments caused more than a few eyebrows to venture skywards: Brilliant: another knee jerk reaction from the home office. This seems quite reasonable on the surface, until you realise that many of the raids in Operation Ore were based on the Rozzers having traced credit card usage and raiding houses of totally innocent people who have had their cards cloned or stolen from insecure web sites. Indeed most of the time the cloning had been discovered and reported to the card provider, thus a simple phone call/email from the police to the card provider would have done away with the need for them to have their lives ruined by being publicly branded a peado when the police did a raid. Perhaps the Police could learn to use their current powers properly before they are given more rights to screw with people's lives. Fraser And on a far less serious note, we have a couple of suggestions from the helpful people out there in the cheap seats about the possible link between skyscraper collapse and avian flu, as a British doctor warned that a flu pandemic would be like "1,000 9/11s": "Quite what he means by this is something of a mystery, since we know of no correlation between sick birds and the likelihood of several planes coming to blows with tall buildings." It's obvious when you think about it - flu tends to block up your ears, causing a loss of balance. Dr Hajioff is clearly worried about the possibility of large numbers of off-balance albatross colliding with skyscrapers. Chris Bless - someone should tell Steve Hajilof that just because he's a quack doesn't make him more susceptible to bird flu than the rest of us :-) Mark Boom-boom, as Basil Brush would say. Short and sweet. Keep 'em coming, and we'll run the best of the good/bad and downright ugly on Friday. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jun 2006
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Belgium adopts open office doc format

Belgium has become the first country to mandate the use of the OpenDocument format (ODF) for office files, albeit tentatively. From September next year software in all Belgian government departments must be able to read ODF files. If the experiment is successful, ODF will become the standard interchange format - although departments will still be able to exchange office files in proprietary formats internally. Early last month the ISO voted unanimously to approve the OpenDocument format - an XML specification that originated from Sun's OpenOffice project, and which for a time was known as Open Office XML. Although Microsoft hasn't changed its Office file formats since 1997, it's fighting OpenDocument with its own rival XML interoperability initiative, on the grounds that the new ISO format "stifles innovation". Microsoft is also pushing its own XML format through the ISO standardization tracks. It's the most significant federal mandate yet, following the trail blazed by the US state of Massachusetts. An immediate problem facing adopters is that the most up to date version of Microsoft Office, Office 2003, doesn't natively support ODF. Massachusetts state IT department published a Request For Information for an Office plug-in last month. In response to the RFI, Microsoft says it's supplying technical documentation and granting IP rights to any developers who want to work on such a plug-in. It's also given Massachusetts state education software licenses worth $30m - or $800 for each college student and $2,400 for each student in further education. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Jun 2006
graph up

Police hold three in spam Trojan bust

Police in Finland and the UK this morning arrested three alleged members of a group dubbed "MOOP" suspected of delivering trojans via spam emails to gain access to confidential information stored on "thousands" of corporate machines, the Metropolitan Police's Computer Crime Unit has confirmed. The three men, a 63-year-old from England, a 19-year-old from Finland and a 28-year-old from Scotland, are being questioned after computers were "seized at residential addresses in both countries in addition to the suspects' servers". A Metropolitan Police statement reads: "This highly organised group are suspected of writing new computer viruses in order to avoid detection by anti-virus products. They have been primarily targeting UK businesses since at least 2005, and during this time thousands of computers are known to have been infected across the globe." Detective Constable Bob Burls, of the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit, added: "These men appear to be connected via an online company. We believe the suspects created and adapted viruses with the aim of causing massive infection by spamming. Today's arrests will send a clear worldwide signal to the authors of malicious software that national borders will not limit the ability and commitment of law enforcement authorities to clamp down on this criminal activity." The virus in question is, according to CNet, called either "Ryknos", "Breplibot" or "Stinkx", and is delivered when unsuspecting users click on an attachment to an email which reads: "Hello, Your photograph was forwarded to us as part of an article we are publishing for our December edition of Total Business Monthly. Can you check over the format and get back to us with your approval or any changes? If the picture is not to your liking then please send a preferred one. We have attached the photo with the article here. Kind regards, Jamie Andrews." The "Breplibot" virus has previously been fingered for exploiting Sony-BMG's infamous rootkit DRM technology, and was delivered via a similar email. The rootkit masked any files beginning with "$sys$", and Breplibot accordingly used this handy facility to drop the file "$sys$drv.exe" into the Windows system directory safe from the prying eyes of anti-virus software. ®
Lester Haines, 27 Jun 2006

Gravity wave detector is go

A key prediction of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity is set to be tested, as a German/UK research group powers up its gravitational wave detector GEO600 for an 18-month stint of continual operation. Gravitational waves are a consequence of the equations of Einstein's famous theory. He predicted that two stars in orbit around one another would gradually lose energy from their orbits in the form of gravitational radiation. The orbits would gradually collapse, resulting in shorter and shorter orbital periods. Although there is some circumstantial evidence to support the theory, no one has been able to test directly for their existence in the real world. Now a lab in Hanover will be watching the skies for these waves, which ought to be produced when a star explodes as a supernova. "If there is a supernova in our vicinity during the next couple of months, our chances of detecting and measuring the resulting gravitational waves are good," said says Professor Karsten Danzmann, head of the International Centre for Gravitational Physics. Detecting the waves would mean that the first step towards gravitational wave astronomy had been taken, he continued: "at last allowing us to observe the 96% of our universe which have been hidden to us up to now". Vast swathes of the invisible universe would suddenly be accessible to astronomers. Using gravitational waves, researchers would be able to investigate the nature of the hypothetical dark matter and dark energy, thought by some to account for the majority of the mass in the universe. The team working with GEO600 has been running tests of the detector since 2002, and have considerably increased the instrument's sensitivity since then. In 2002 its scope was limited to just a small fraction of our home galaxy. "Today our sensitivity has increased by a factor of 3000 and we can detect events in distances many times greater than the distance between us and our galactic neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy," Danzmann explains. The detector is a super-sensitive Michelson laser interferometer, with laser beams running in two underground vacuum tubes which are 600m long. It incorporates absorption-free optics and a highly sophisticated vibration damping arrangement that allows it to measure the tinychanges to the lengths of the laser beams. Using the GEO600, astronomers will be able to chart the distribution of neutron stars and black holes in the Universe, and discover more about the formation of black holes. The detector might even be able to spot the gravitational waves thought to have been left behind by the big bang. The GEO600 is bad news for betting shop Labrokes. In 2004, the firm offered odds of 500/1 against gravity waves being spotted before 2010. After hoards of physicists rushed to take the betting shop up on the offer, Ladbrokes had to shorten the odds to 6/1. The book on this one has been closed for a while, Ladbrokes says. "Even a few fifty quid bets at the original odds represents a substantial liability," a spokesman told us. "We've had our fill of science bets for the time being. And we've got this thing called the World Cup on at the moment, which is keeping us busy." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jun 2006
channel

HP gives new blades a clustered makeover

The high performance computing (HPC) crowd should be pleased to see HP making the most of its new blade server line. HP today unveiled its latest take on the cluster-in-a-can concept with a blade hardware and software pairing aimed at researchers and large businesses. Earlier this month, HP popped out its c-Class blade line, which includes a new 10U chassis and both Xeon-based and Opteron-based blades. HP has tweaked those blade server specs to come up with the 3000BL (Xeon) and 4000BL (Opteron) blades which slot into the chassis in a "well organised configuration for HPC", according to HP marketing whiz Bruce Toal. In addition, HP wraps the blade servers with some cluster management software packages, such as XC Cluster Software, to create a supposedly "out-of-the-box" HPC system. Customers may actually be more impressed with the networking options available on the HPC system than they are by the server and software choices. The c-Class chassis has a midplane that boasts five terabytes per second of throughput (that's eight switch bays where each bay has two 10Gbps links to each of the 16 server bays and each link is bi-directional) and support for 4X DDR Infiniband. "When we talk about value, we're talking about reducing complexity and doing things like integrating the interconnect directly into the backplane," Toal said. "Then we take our innovations and marry them with the fastest Infiniband switch and leverage that all for scalable clusters." HP, like its competitors, has produced pre-packaged clusters for a couple of years. The hardware makers have been looking to make large clusters as mainstream as possible by doing some of the configuration dirty work in-house and then sending off a complete system to customers. Traditionally, those clusters have been made up mostly of 1U and 2U rack servers, but HP is betting that bladed clusters will become more popular in the years to come. Regrettably, HP refused to detail the difference in pricing between a standard c-Class system packed full of blades and an HPC-optimized system. Customers will, of course, have to pay for additional clustering software on the HPC gear. HP vowed to release more specific information next month when the HPC cluster officially starts shipping. ®
Ashlee Vance, 27 Jun 2006

Take Two subpoenaed for GTA clandestosmut

Take Two Interactive, the publisher behind the Grand Theft Auto series, has been ordered to hand over documents by New York District Attorneys. A Grand jury investigating the "hot coffee" cheat has issued two subpoenas demanding documents relating to the hidden x-rated scenes. Take Two wrote in a statement to investors: "The company has not been advised that it or any specific individual is presently a target of the investigation." But investigators are concerned with "the knowledge of the company's officers and directors regarding the creation, inclusion and programming of hidden scenes", the statement said. They're also after details about the firm's submissions to censors, financial bumf, and human resources records. Take Two says it is cooperating fully with the New York investigation. Los Angeles DAs are in the process of suing Take Two and its developer Rockstar for the indiscreet scenes. New York Senator and sceptered guardian of all that is virtuous Hilary Clinton called for a federal investigation last year. Earlier this month Take Two duly got its telling off from the Federal Trade Commission.®
Christopher Williams, 27 Jun 2006
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Desktop Linux relies on the kindness of strangers

An OSDL project to simplify porting and integration of applications with Linux desktops is gambling on support from Linux distros and other community standards efforts. Organizers of the Portland Project, released to beta this week, are talking to Linux providers to achieve distribution with their desktop software, and the Free Standards Group's Linux Standards Base (LSB) to receive the FSG's "official recognition." China's Red Flag Linux and TurboLinux apparently wish to include the Portland Project's command line tools with their distributions but Linux market leader Red Hat is not committing until it has tested Portland. Waldo Bastian, chairman of the technical board of the OSDL desktop Linux initiative, told The Register: "We'd like Red Hat to include these tools and take ownership of these tools so they can say: 'We have tested this and it works on our future product release'." As ever in these things, Red Hat's support is vital. With its commanding market share and high-brand awareness among customers as well as developers Red Hat is key in driving uptake of the Portland Project in Europe and the US, even though Red Hat's own success is founded more on the server than the desktop. In a cruel twist, Portland's uptake by FSG hinges on acceptance by Red Hat and others as FSG will only endorse Portland as an "existing standard or practice" according to Bastian speaking during this week's Gnome User Developer conference in Catalonia, Spain. "It [FSG uptake] depends on how successful we are in getting distributions to adopt it." The Portland Project is the latest effort to increase the number of applications available for Linux, in this case desktop Linux, and actually follows in the LSB's footsteps. The project promises a set of command-line tools that simplify the installation and integration of ISVs applications with the Linux desktop. While a worthy effort, the work lends some weight to criticism earlier this year from Microsoft that open source desktop and Office efforts are simply repeating the work it achieved 10 years before with Windows and Office integration. For example, future work at Portland will tackle use of a common print window for different applications running on the Linux desktop. There is doubt, too, about whether a Linux and open source client architecture will be enough to tear users away from the familiarity and comfort of Windows/Office. There's also the OEM and channel question to tackle. Linux has seen patchy desktop support from PC companies leaving IBM as the single largest distributor of Linux, which it achieves by supplying hardware servers. On Office, Microsoft keeps the channel happy with big fat Office offers and paid promotions that keep the dollars coming in and protect retailers' bottom line. That's a relationship few can break, as Sun Microsystems discovered in April 2004 when it tried, and failed, to drive consumer uptake of its Java Desktop System on PCs sold at retail monolith Walmart - an idea of Sun software's then up-and-coming executive vice president Jonathan Schwartz. According to Waldo, Portland's success may come to depend on yet another standard - Open Document Format (ODF), the XML file format used in StarOffice, OpenOffice, IBM's Workplace and the Novell desktop. "ODF provides an improved way of managing Office documents," Bastian said. "Once you create an environment for standardized document exchange you will let your organization take advantage of running your desktop environment on Linux instead of Windows."®
Gavin Clarke, 27 Jun 2006

Intel sells XScale business to Marvell for $600m

Intel is to flog off its XScale processor operation, the chip giant said today. The move paves the way for it to push low-power x86 CPUs at mobile phone and PDA makers. The buyer is comms chip company Marvell Technology Group, which is paying $600m cash for the product line and taking on "certain liabilities".
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2006

AT&T launches IPTV

AT&T has at last launched its delayed internet-based TV service - but only in San Antonio, Texas. Verizon took its own baby steps into IPTV last autumn, also choosing Texas for the launch of its own offering, called Fios TV. AT&T, in its previous incarnation as SBC, had originally scheduled the launch of IPTV for Q4 2005. A comprehensive roll out won't now take place until next year. But the prices AT&T has set for its U-verse service might not have the cable competition panicking about their margins just yet. The entry-level U-verse package starts at $69, and the premium service costs $114 a month. That's comparable to cable, but U-verse does, however, include internet options up to 6Mbits/s. The Bells have fought off a regulatory ambush in Congress - "net neutrality" legislation that would have hampered their IPTV plans - they're providing the first real competition for the entrenched cable monopolies. It'll be harder to make that case again, if prices remain at cosy, cable monopoly levels. AT&T hopes to launch the service in up to 20 markets by the end of the year. The fiber investment cost AT&T, or rather SBC, around $4bn, and it uses Microsoft's IPTV software - one of the few bright spots in what has proved a hard sell for Redmond. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Jun 2006
channel

Jobs to unleash Leopard on Microsoft

Steve Jobs will use Apple's annual developer conference for a second time as a launch pad to exploit Microsoft's discomfort over further delays to Windows Vista. Chief executive Jobs will use August's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) to stir simmering tensions by previewing Apple's next operating system, OS 10.5, codenamed Leopard. The event will kick off in San Francisco.
Gavin Clarke, 27 Jun 2006
DVD it in many colours

Cisco doubles up on Infiniband gear

Cisco Systems has spruced up its line of Infiniband switches with a bandwidth double-up and new management software links that let customers control both Ethernet and Infiniband switches from one spot. The new Cisco SFS 7000D Series DDR (double data rate) switches boast a boost in bandwidth from 10 to 20 Gbit/s. The systems are refreshed versions of the products Cisco started selling last September and come from Cisco's buy of Topspin Communications. Officially, the new gear starts shipping in August, but Cisco wants you to hear about it now. Customers can pick 24, 144 and 288 switches, although the larger systems aren't old Topspin gear at all. Instead, Cisco OEMs the fatties from SilverStorm. Both SilverStorm and Voltaire have already been pumping out DDR kit, making Cisco late to the game. Cisco, however, hopes to counter its tardiness with convenience. Customers with the CiscoWorks LAN Management Solution (LMS) software can now work with both Ethernet and Infiniband gear from the same console. Jerry Harris of Stanford's Center for Computational Earth and Environmental Science was so moved by the shared management addition that he offered up his good name to Cisco via a canned quotation. "Because Cisco offers an integrated, compute cluster framework, we can take advantage of unified management and intelligence between our InfiniBand compute network and Ethernet management network," Harris said, in a Cisco statement. "With these capabilities we can build a reliable, high performance, low latency fabric which will scale to thousands of nodes and can deliver tangible benefits that directly influence our productivity." Congratulations go to Cisco's art department as well for finally removing the Topspin logo from this product photo and replacing it with a Cisco brand. ®
Ashlee Vance, 27 Jun 2006

IBM and HP the most loved x86 server vendors of all - study

In the good old days, IBM workers would crack open their songbooks and sing about the wonders of Big Blue. These days IBM's x86 server customers are the ones humming away with pride, according to a new study from the Gabriel Consulting Group (GCG). Grand vendor that it is, IBM has managed to please data center operators across a wide range of metrics. It, in fact, secured top billing in almost every GCG category. Not surprisingly, HP beat out IBM in a couple of categories and followed Big Blue closely in the rest. But where IBM and HP succeeded, Dell failed and x86 baby Sun Microsystems kind of ho-hummed. All told, GCG interviewed 212 enterprise x86 server customers. The majority of these customers employed more than 1,000 workers and owned between 20 and hundreds of servers. In addition, the vast majority of the customers bought systems from two, three or all four vendors with just 25 per cent of those surveyed standardizing on a single vendor. GCG worked to normalize the results, "so that vendor scores are not skewed by the number of respondents who prefer a particular vendor." Here's what GCG found. In overall x86 technology, IBM posted a VPI (vendor preference index) score of 120, which compares to 100 for HP, 89 for Sun and a humble 40 for Dell. IBM also won out in observed system performance and raw system performance, although HP almost matched Big Blue in both categories. Sun again finished third, and Dell brought up the rear. HP, with the old Compaq engineering prowess behind it, knocked all rivals on the ever important serviceability and reliability fronts with IBM coming in second, Sun in third and Dell in last. "The results from these questions again reinforce the fact that IBM and HP are leading the pack and that the reputed leader, Dell, is not held in high regard by enterprise customers," GCG wrote. "These results should raise a red flag with Dell management, give that system reliability and availability are such hot button issues with customers." On the management front, HP again topped all vendors with IBM trailing just behind it. Sun and Dell did their same things. If you want top notch services, then you're turning to IBM first by a long shot, followed by HP, Sun and, you guessed it, Dell. "In services, it’s obvious that the IBM/HP ‘big guns’ are held in much higher regard by customers than Sun or particularly Dell," GCG wrote. "This result isn’t particularly surprising in that IBM and HP have devoted huge resources to building their services capabilities." Given the previous results, it may come as a shock to see Dell blow away the competition on the "sales momentum" front. Dell notched a VPI score of 120, while IBM came in at 98, HP hit 95 and Sun hit 80. "On one hand, our survey respondents believe that Dell has more sales momentum than any of their competitors," GCG wrote. "But, throughout the survey they have generally blasted Dell for coming up short on technology and customer service. The also believe that Dell is less viable in the enterprise x86 server market than IBM, HP and Sun. What customers seem to be saying is 'we aren’t that wild about Dell, but everyone else is', which, to us, means Dell is doing a great job of marketing." In a broader context, these results may help explain why Dell finally gave in and adopted Opteron. Its x86 server business simply has not been as competitive over the past 18 months, and the lean Dell Model let customers down, as the vendor was not flexible enough or willing to bring on a new chip supplier. Meanwhile, it's very surprising to see Sun rank so highly given its miniscule share of the x86 server market. Still, GCG said that it received far more responses than it expected from customers who have indeed got their hands on Sun's gear. Certainly, the strangest bit of data from the GCG survey comes from the "overall value for the money" question. Here IBM won out ahead of HP with Dell and Sun locked in a tie. Funny enough though, the vendors just about tied in this category with the VPI ranging only from 102 to 96. So, even though you all love IBM and HP, you think that Sun and Dell are still giving you a good value. This either means that x86 gear has become so cheap that everyone is pleased or that you're all taking it too lightly on the slackers. For more information on the survey, you can check out the GCG site here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 27 Jun 2006