CommentComment Open Text Corporation initially announced its intention on 5th July 2006 to make a counter bid for all of the shares of Hummingbird Ltd. at a price of US$27.75 per share in cash following the announcement on 26 May 2006 that Hummingbird would be acquired by a company within the Symphony Technology Group. Open Text offered $1.00 per share more than Symphony Technology Group. Since then, on 21st July, it has had to increase the cash offer by 10 cents (to $27.85) per share to get Hummingbird to the negotiating table.
If there's a fashionable topic in the enterprise at the moment, it's ITIL (the IT Infrastructure Library, a collection of best practices for managing IT operations) and its contribution to IT Governance. For developers, it's all about designing holistic systems, with operational resilience, upgrade, maintenance and even change management processes built in.
Pervasive Software has called time on support and services for the PostgreSQL open source database, citing pressure caused by commoditization and price sensitivity.
Microsoft has published the long-anticipated upgrade paths for moving PCs from old versions of Windows to Windows Vista. That's the good news. The bad news (for most users)? You're gonna have to back up all your files and desktop settings for re-installation, along with all your PC applications, once Windows Vista is up and running. This is the reality facing large number of business users still running Windows 2000 - 56 per cent, according to latest research. Microsoft said customers running Windows 2000 Professional are eligible for an upgrade copy to a corresponding or better edition of Windows Vista, but a "clean install" is still required. Only users whose PCs are running Windows XP home edition will get to install any version of Windows Vista they like and retain their previous settings and applications. Full details of Microsoft's confusing upgrade path are available here. What ever course home users take, few businesses will stampede to upgrade to Windows Vista. Fifty per cent said they either won't deploy Windows Vista at all or will wait at least 13 months after Microsoft's November 2006 "business availability" before they begin installation. Making matters worse for Microsoft, 13 per cent haven't even heard of Windows Vista according to a JupiterResearch poll of 207 businesses with more than 100 employees. The data points come as reports surfaced of more restructuring inside Microsoft, designed to deliver future versions of Windows on time. Brian Valentine, long-time senior vice president of Microsoft's core operating system division and the man who headed up Windows engineering, is transferring to another position inside Microsoft. His job is going to Jon DeVaan, currently managing Microsoft's engineering standards. Valentine led Windows engineering for seven years. DeVaan, who successfully worked on Office 2000, 97 and 95, will drive operating system development, cross-platform integration, and work with new Windows chief Steven Sinofsky. This is the last changing of the guard on Windows, as Sinofsky was named senior vice president for the Windows and Windows Live Group in March, taking over Windows development from the outgoing Jim Allchin. Microsoft is apparently laying the foundations to ensure, as chief executive Steve Ballmer told analysts last week, there are no more five year gaps in delivery of flagship products. ®
Computer crash investigators are looking for the “unusual” factors that left up to 80 NHS trusts sharing the same data centre without patient information systems while private sector organisations had their services restored with little delay. 80 NHS customers using CSC's foremost British data centre in Maidstone, Kent, had their patient information systems cut off since 10am Sunday morning. Fifty of these systems, which tell hospitals and health centres who will be attending which appointments and operations when, were operational by the close of play yesterday, two and a half days since they failed. The rest are not expected to be cleared until Thursday. Private clients using CSC's Maidstone centre, meanwhile, were up and running again yesterday. CSC is thought to have about 100 UK customers, many of whom would be using the Maidstone centre. A spokesman for the firm said “something unusual has obviously happened” for the private clients to have been restored so quickly while the NHS systems where still being restored. “Had there been an ordinary set of circumstances the recovery would have been quicker,” he said. The original outage was preceded on Sunday with a team of engineers being called to investigate a problem with the interruptible power supplies that usually prevent losses of electricity to the computers in CSC's Maidstone data centre. While they where working an unexpected power spike was shot around the data centre, taking out its main servers. The storage network was closed instantly to protect the data it held for CSC customers. For some reason, the failover system, which should have provided a near continuous service in the event of a problem, failed. One reason why it is taking so long for CSC customers to have their systems brought online again is that each computer disk on the storage network has to be tested before its service can be delivered to the live environment again.®
Our February 1 report "Tycoon charged with computer hacking" stated that Matthew Mellon had been charged in connection with an investigation into an alleged phone-tapping and computer hacking gang, which was hacking into NHS computers to access confidential medical files to blackmail people, spying on police and bugging their phone calls to get information, and falsifying invoices. In fact, Mr Mellon has been charged with a single offence, which he denies - conspiracy to cause unauthorised modification of computer material. He has not been charged with any offence relating to blackmail, phone tapping or falsifying invoices. We are happy to clarify the position and apologise to Mr Mellon for any embarrassment caused. ®
While we most likely won't be commuting to work in flying cars in the near future, we could soon be climbing the walls and wearing invisibility cloaks. Tom Cassin, head of the technology, media and telecommunications practice at Deloitte, predicts that although we won't be watching holographic TV or travelling to work in flying cars by 2010, "technology [in the future] will be far more involved in our everyday lives than ever before". Cassin has outlined the growing use of technology in several scenarios, such as in the classroom, through entertainment, and while travelling. He envisages that email, wireless technologies and the internet will continue to reign supreme but will be supported by, for example, developments in robotic systems. While the concept of personal flying machines may still be far off, we may get the chance to walk up walls if transatlantic aerospace and defence company BAE Systems has anything to do with it. The firm is currently working on what the media has dubbed "Spiderman suits", which will allow soldiers of the future to scale sheer vertical surfaces. Referred to as "infantry climbing suits" by the company, they are reportedly made from a material that closely mimics the feet of a gecko lizard. Gecko feet are themselves covered with hairs so tiny they merge with the very molecules they touch. Dr Jeff Sargent, a research physicist at BAE Systems' Advanced Technology Centre in Bristol told reporters: "We wanted to mimic this ability...We have made a small amount of this material and we have demonstrated that it will stick on glass surfaces to demonstrate that it's got some potential. "Having a Spiderman glove is a long way down the road, but in principle, you might have something like that," he added. So far the potential applications for these suits have all been military-related, but ENN's resident futurologists have suggested a range of other interesting applications, in the areas of standard field sports, public transport space-saving, search and rescue assistance, and a number of other potentially illegal deployments which we can't go into. Meanwhile, if the guys at BAE Systems ever team up with their fellow superhero fans at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, then we could all be in trouble. St Andrews theoretical physicist Dr Ulf Leonhardt published research on Monday which describes the physics behind invisibility devices. Invisibility is an optical illusion confusing the viewer into believing an object or person is not present. Dr Leonhardt uses the example of water circling around a stone. The water flows in, swirls around the stone and then leaves as if nothing was there. "If you replace the water with light then you would not see that there was something present because the light is guided around the person or object. You would see the light coming from the scenery behind as if there was nothing in front," Dr Leonhardt told Reuters. In a highly technical description, Dr Leonhardt said the possibility of invisibility cloaks is a real one, but it would be of the Invisible Woman format of Marvel comics' fame, rather than the Harry Potter variety. "What the Invisible Woman does is curve space around herself to bend light. What these devices would do is to mimic that curved space," he said. Dr Leonhardt added that one of the potential applications of this principle we may see soon is metamaterials which bend radar or electromagnetic waves used by mobile phones. The devices could be used as protection mechanisms so radiation emitted from mobile phones does not penetrate electronic equipment, but rather is guided around it. Copyright © 2006, ENN
Sonnet has begun shipping a series of processor upgrades for Apple's old Power Mac G4. Each Encore/ST G4 Duet packs in a pair of 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz MPC7447A G4-class CPUs with 512KB of L2 cache.
EDS is to move up to 15,000 jobs to cheaper locations over the next "couple of years", according to the company's CEO Michael Jordan, bringing the total number of "offshore" employees to around 45,000. The company has already cut around 1,000 jobs this year, but Jordan told The FT he wants to lose another 4,000 from the developed world by the end of 2006. These cuts will be a combination of moving jobs to countries with lower hiring costs, and through deploying new technology tools designed to improve productivity. Layers of unnecessary management would be stripped out, he said. The company also had to increase productivity by three to four per cent every year, he added. While jobs are being slashed in the developed world, the company is losing no time picking up the slack in cheaper locations. EDS said it plans to open a new centre in China, with 1,000 employees, and it recently bought Mphasis, an Indian IT services firm employing some 12,000 people. But all these cuts don't come cheap. The FT notes that with so many redundancy payments owing this quarter, the company had to issue a warning that its profits would not meet Wall Street expectations. ®
The chip industry's stockpile of unwanted processors and chipsets jumped above expectations during Q2, and it's largely Intel's fault, market watcher iSuppli claimed yesterday. It's almost entirely Intel's problem, too.
HD Moore is at it again. Using a custom-built data fuzzing tool, the security researcher pinpointed more than 100 vulnerabilities in the ActiveX controls included with the default installation of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system.
Nvidia's upcoming single-chip integrated chipset for AMD's Socket AM2 CPUs, the MCP61, will be offered in a form suitable for notebook use in addition to the desktop versions the chipset is already expected to ship as, motherboard-maker moles have claimed.
Almost two thirds of all US adults have been identified as "cyberchondriacs" in a new Harris poll tracking the number of people looking up health information online. The survey found that after three years of modest growth, the number of adults asking Dr Google for advice had jumped by 16 per cent, to 136m. The researchers say that part of this rise has been caused by a significant increase in the number of Americans with access to the internet - now standing at 77 per cent of all adults. Of these, 80 per cent have looked up medical conditions online, up from 72 per cent in 2005, and six in 10 say they often use the web for this purpose. The average cyberchondriac, Harris says, searches the web for information five times a month. But these net users are also becoming more savvy, with the number of people describing the information they find as "very reliable" falling from 37 per cent in 2005 to just 25 per cent this year. Despite this, most users say their searching did turn up the information they were looking for, perhaps accounting for a small drop in the number of people who say they discuss their findings with their doctors. This fell from 57 per cent in 2005 to 52 per cent in 2006. The cyberchondriac is apparently less likely to search the web to check on their doctor's advice. Just 45 per cent of those surveyed said they would use the net for further research following a chat with their doctor, down seven per cent on last year. Harris bases its findings on telephone interviews with 1,020 adults in the USA. ®
PlusNet shares recovered slightly today after falling sharply on results yesterday. Shares are at 110p, after falling 9.5 per cent yesterday. Although PlusNet posted good financials for the three months ended 30 June 2006 the City is concerned about new competition in the broadband market. Turnover was up 37 per cent to £22.5m and operating profit up 41 per cent to £3.1m. Profit before tax was £3.03m for the six months ended 30 June 2006 compared to £2.28m for the six months ended 30 June 2005. PlusNet's chairman Kevin Adams said in a statement: "Market uncertainty caused by new mass market entrants may continue to affect our growth rate in the short term, but in the longer term we are confident that our clear focus and unique technological advantage will deliver growth as the market evolves and matures." The ISP believes many of the current so-called "free" broadband offers are unsustainable in the long term and that many punters don't want the "legacy services" being bundled with converged broadband offers. 90 per cent of PlusNet revenue comes from broadband and related services. PlusNet claims its users "are typically drawn from a growing audience of IT professionals and technology enthusiasts" who are interested in quality service rather than just low price. Furthermore the company believes that users of mass market ISPs "will become more discerning" and look for better quality connections. The ISP has 198,000 broadband subscribers, up 75 per cent on a year ago. PlusNet said it was disappointed by this - it said take-up had been slowed by the problematic rollout of BT's 8Mb services and slowed between the first and second quarters of 2006. For more download the press release (pdf) here.
Japanese storage specialist Logitec will ship what may be the world's first Mac-compatible Blu-ray Disc burner later this month. The 2x BD drive can write to BD-R and BD-RE media offering 25GB and 50GB storage capacities.
Intel has released security updates for its Centrino wireless chipset device drivers and its PROSet management software designed to guard against a trio of serious security vulns.
Samsung will next week ship its 6.9mm-thick Ultra Edition SPH-V9900 candybar handset to South Korean phone buyers, the company said today. It will offer a 12.9mm slider phone and a 9.9mm clamshell handset at the same time, all through local telco KTF. The phones are coming to Europe and the US as the X820, D900 and D830 before the end of September. ®
Orange is increasing its rates for the majority of roaming destinations at the end of August, even as the proposed Europe-wide capping of roaming charges looks set to become law. In what it describes as a "readjustment", Orange is increasing 16 of its worldwide prices, in one case (calling within the Middle East) doubling the rate. In fact, the only people to gain from this "realignment" of pricing are those calling the UK from North America or Asia, who will see prices cut by five pence and 10 pence respectively, though that must be off-set by the 30 pence per minute increase when calling in-country within either of those zones. But Orange reckons 60 per cent of its roaming customers stay within the Orange Business Zone: an area encompassing most of mainland Europe and surrounding countries, where prices aren't changing. In the rest of Europe, incorporating Albania, Croatia, Israel and Turkey to name a few, prices have gone up considerably. You'll pay five pence more to receive a call (now costing you 50p a minute), and calling in-country will set you back an additional 30p a minute (up from 45 to 75 pence). Anyone roaming to the Middle East or the USA might want to take a careful look at the new rates, which should arrive through the post any day now (Orange is obliged to provide a 30 day warning of changes). The mobile operator is also moving a few countries around - South Africa migrates from the Middle East to Asia Pacific, for example. Interestingly, "Other Europe" includes Yugoslavia, which might come as a surprise to the people of Serbia and Montenegro. Orange's reshuffle also sees the introduction of a Business Frequent Traveller rate, which costs £5 a month and offers discounts of "up to 50 per cent" on roaming calls. Don't expect that 50 per cent figure to be widespread: calls received within the Orange Business Zone will get a 40 per cent discount, while phoning home only gets 24 per cent off; the other discounts vary widely. The addition of the Business Frequent Traveller just makes comparing prices all the more difficult, and anyone who can actually work out which is the most effective tariff for them deserves some sort of award. Anyone hoping these changes will allow them to renege on their contract should know that Orange considers roaming an "additional service", and thus not covered by the terms and conditions that allow withdrawal in cases of price increases. ®
The news that Arun Sarin will be justified in staying as CEO of Vodafone is hardly going to be a surprise to Arun himself; he probably arranged the announcement by Verizon Wireless that "cellular partner Vodafone Group PLC has opted not to sell its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless for at least the next few years". The Associated Press report analyses the problem as "Verizon can't afford to buy Voda out" - because the success of Verizon Wireless has boosted shares beyond the company's purse. But financial advisers to Voda are well aware the real threat isn't that the American will buy its global partner out: it's the fact that various financiers are preparing to asset-strip the "fast growth potential" of Voda subsidiaries in territories like Africa and South America to fund the takeover of the group. Nonetheless, UK analysts are likely to be reassured. "Full-ownership of Verizon Wireless' profit would help fund a hugely expensive upgrade of the Verizon's traditional phone network with fiber-optic lines to deliver TV and next-generation internet services. But as the cellular business has prospered, its market value has soared, fueling worries Verizon might be forced to take on too much debt to buy the Vodafone stake, now estimated to be worth well above $40bn," Business Week said today. But the story made it clear that this statement arose from briefings by Arun Sarin to financial analysts. Sarin - unpopular with UK and European analysts - commands strong admiration in US markets, where a firm statement of non-intent to buy Voda out means, effectively, that Voda still has a use for Sarin's services in wowing US investors. Copyright © Newswireless.net
The people of Norwich should be enjoying the pleasures of free Wi-Fi today thanks to a project backed by Norfolk County Council and the East of England Development Agency. The £1.1m project covers 30 square kilometres - most of Norwich city centre, outlying business parks, the hospital, and the University of East Anglia. The network provides free access to public sector workers and the general public. But access is limited to 256Kbps so the network won't compete with commercial providers. Public sector workers will have internet access at 1Mbps. Later this year, the service will be extended to 20 rural areas around Norfolk. The network is a Wi-Fi mesh - 200 devices, mostly attached to lampposts, which have two radios - one providing network access to laptops, PCs and smartphones in range, while the other communicates with other mesh devices. The devices then find the nearest of "nine WiMAX-class" upload points which then go to a 40Mbps internet feed at County Hall. The network was designed and installed by Synetrix. Telabria Networks provided both the mesh radios and the WiMAX boxes.®
Sony has introduced the Cyber-shot DSC-T10, the 7.2-megapixel upgrade to its six-megapixel DSC-T9. The new model, due later this month, also packs in anti-blur technology and a high-sensitivity movie mode - for shooting in low light conditions, not for filming weepies, we'd suggest.
T-Mobile Pre-Pay customers can now surf the internet from their mobiles for a maximum charge of £1 a day. The Web 'n' Walk service, launched yesterday, costs less than penny a kilobyte, with a cap at £1 per day and all usage beyond that free. The service, which had previously been limited to customers paying monthly, boasts no cap on usage and no limitations on the websites customers can visit, though those wanting to access sites of an "adult" nature will need to prove they are over the age of 18. The service is currently only be available on the Motorola v3 RAZR and Nokia 6131, though support for more handsets is promised before Christmas. Web 'n' Walk is a great service for accessing websites from your mobile phone (if you have the right handset), but woe betide anyone who tries to use the tariff with their laptop, use Voice over IP, or even watch a streaming video from the internet. T-Mobile makes it very clear in its terms and conditions that such behaviour will not be tolerated and, if detected, will result in a stern warning followed by a reduction in service. ®
Microsoft has launched the updated version of its MSN Spaces blogging software, Live Spaces, which it says allows users to connect with their friends online in real time. The updated software enables users to customise their blogging Spaces with blogs, photo albums, music lists and so on, Microsoft says. Users can connect to their friends - those on their Windows Live contact list, across the messenger and email services. New contacts can be added through these existing trusted contacts, the company says. Microsoft adds to balance the expansion of the networking capabilities, it has also beefed up security and safety options. Users will have total control over who can and cannot contact them through the service, access their profile information, and so on. For under 18s, for instance, the default setting is that only trusted contacts may get in touch or view the information. The software giant also announced the forthcoming launch of the Windows Live Tool Bar, and Windows Live Q&A beta. ®
VIA president Wenchi Chen, his wife - VIA chairwoman Cher Wang - and a company engineer called Jeffrey Chang were this week found not guilty by the Taipei District Court of infringing copyright law, breach of trust and conspiring to steal business secrets from D-Link. The verdict comes almost two years after VIA and D-Link settled their civil differences over the matter.
The Spanish region of Extremadura has pledged to move all government computers onto open source software within the next year. Officials will be mandated to use the open document format standard for office communications over the same time frame. Extremadura, Spain's poorest region, has been a supporter of open source software for some time. In 2002, it migrated 70,000 desktops and 400 servers in schools across the region onto a customised version of gnuLinEx Debian, saving an estimated €18m. By adopting the same operating system on civil service computers, alongside open source office application suites, Extremadura hopes to save more still. IT firms Intel and Bull have pledged to support the scheme. The Extremaduran government didn't say how many systems would be involved in the project, which will ease future IT systems planning as well as reducing costs. Luis Millán de Vázquez de Miguel, the government official in charge for the development of infrastructure and technology in Extremadura, explained that the region will "no longer be so exposed to the problems caused by forced migrations" after it completely embraces open source technology, Techworld reports. ® External links Extremaduran government announcement
Coca-Cola has teamed up with Apple to launch a new European music website, after declining sales recently caused it to close its own MyCokeMusic website. The new site will be launched in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with the roll out beginning next week. The launches will be accompanied by live music events, podcasts of which will be available on the new site. However, Irish fans will have to wait until September to gain access to the new website. The partnership with Apple forms part of a new music strategy for Coca-Cola, which just weeks ago closed down its own online music store. iTunes' dominance in the online music market in Europe was cited as one of the main reasons for the failure of MyCokeMusic.com The new Coca-Cola site, which features iTunes integration throughout, will offer links to music and information specifically focused on giving emerging artists some exposure. In Ireland, the UK, Germany, Austria and Switzerland unsigned artists will be able to upload their songs to the site. Gavin O'Doherty, senior brand manager with Coca-Cola Ireland believes the new site will become a platform for emerging artists who will be able to use the site to reach a wider audience. "In Ireland this new partnership is a great opportunity to extend our already growing involvement with young people and music," said O'Doherty. "Some incredible young talented bands are emerging throughout the country and they now will have an opportunity to showcase their music to a global audience." As part of the partnership with Apple, Coca-Cola is planning a song giveaway on its products, with millions of iTunes music tracks up for grabs during the promotion. This link up with Coca-Cola comes as Apple announces that it has already sold more than 200m songs through iTunes in Europe since its launch, with 150m songs sold in the past year alone. The store operates in 17 European countries. "The number of songs downloaded and purchased from the iTunes Music Stores in Europe have tripled in the past year," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of iTunes. Cue said the company was "thrilled" that European music fans had shown such enthusiasm for the service. However, it hasn't all been smooth sailing for the music firm. Apple has fallen foul of some European governments over its failure to allow other music players to use its iTunes music store. Scandinavia and France are just two of the places tackling the firm on its strict copy protection. Apple recently won a victory in France, with the ruling that some of the provisions in the country's law designed to force iTunes to open up to other music players are unconstitutional. However, the company has yet to get a resolution on the Scandinavian complaint. Copyright © 2006, ENN
Toshiba today claimed it will make Flash-based media players even cheaper. It has brought a memory addressing technique used by hard drives to solid-state storage.
Dell Computers has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for a misleading telly ad. According to the ASA, Dell ran a TV advert including the line: "Whatever you need a PC for, Dell has the one you want for less than you might expect. Right now get this Dell Inspiron notebook featuring an Intel Celeron processor for only £299." The only trouble was the machine was not available for £299. Twenty-three complainants said the machine was only available for £349, two people said the machine was offered for £299, but the price went up when they selected it. Dell claimed the price of £349 included an "upgraded service package" and that customers could unselect upgraded options to find the advertised price. Dell told the ASA this was accepted industry practice. The complaint was upheld and the ad must not be shown again in current form. Today's other technology complaint was against Eidos Interactive for a magazine advert for "Hitman: Blood Money". The picture showed a woman in her underwear with a bullet hole in her forehead and the headline: "Beautifully Executed". People complained to the ASA about the juxtaposition of death and sexuality. Eidos said the ad was not about violent sex but was intended as a parody of a perfume ad - presumably that horrible Opium poster. The Edge magazine, where the ad appeared, said its readers were adult and hardcore gamers and none had complained. The ASA said Beautifully Executed was a play on words and that it was unlikely to cause offense to adult gamers. The complaint was rejected. The Eidos poster, and some discussion of it, is available here thanks to Joystiq.com.®
The days of technology being thought of as "toys for the boys" are numbered, according to a new survey commissioned by a US cable TV network. The research reveals that despite our supposed "best friend" relationship with diamond, most women (77 per cent) would rather have a big-screen plasma TV than a solitaire necklace. Slightly less surprisingly, a weekend away in Florida also lost out to the prospect of a new plasma TV, with 56 per cent saying they'd go for the goggle box, given the chance. Our alleged love-affair with shoes also starts to look very shaky if silicon is involved. A stonking 78 per cent of the women surveyed said they'd rather have a new top-of-the-line cell phone than a pair of designer shoes. Shoes also come a poor second to digital cameras and media centre PCs. Tech take-up among women was also higher than the surveyors expected. They found that on average, women owned 6.6 technology devices compared to men's 6.9. We must note here, however, that it doesn't say what qualifies as a device, and we don't know how much overlap there is between the lists. Women are also increasingly confident around gadgets, with 79 per cent of the sample group reporting that they feel comfortable with technology. Almost half do their own computer trouble shooting, and only seven per cent worry about breaking a new tech toy. Finally, given a hypothetical $500 to spend, 37 per cent of the women surveyed said they'd have an iPod or some other piece of tech kit, 35 per cent said they'd go clothes shopping, 18 per cent would opt for a romantic evening out, seven per cent said they'd go to the spa, and just four per cent would go out on the town with friends. It doesn't come as a particular surprise to us here at Vulture Central to learn that women are happy to use technology, especially if it isn't oversold, and does what it is supposed to. However, much as we love our tech kit 'round here, we do question the long term investment strategy of many of the women polled. After all, in ten years' time, that diamond solitaire will buy you ten flat screen plasma TVs...® Bootnote: A very (ahem) scientific poll of some of this reporter's friends has established that shoes, diamonds, dresses and big drinking sessions with mates win almost every time over any piece of tech kit. The single male respondant to our straw poll added: "Why would anyone want a plasma TV? Its no use, they burn out".
The British IT channel is still moaning about vendors being aloof and uncommunicative, according to a marketing survey. In an attempt to promote a “personal approach” it took to relations with its sales channel, NEC Computers got 80 resellers to fill in an online survey. It quizzed another 10 on the telephone. Nearly two thirds of them wanted vendors to be “honest and straightforward” in their business dealings. Over a third said they wanted to be consulted more by their suppliers. Another third said the grey market was as strong as ever. Others were worried about channel stuffing, price slashing and direct selling. So what's new? Not much. NEC immediately followed up its findings with a strong push on the "personal touch angle". Of course, it all depends what you mean by personal. ®
Good news, everybody. While we've all been labouring under the impression that travelling at the speed of light is some kind of unattainable dream, today we have learned that either humanity has already smashed through the light barrier, or that we will do so by around 2051. Time travel is also bound to have been sussed by then. The most optimistic report comes from the Apple iTunes store. The free single of the week for this week is a little ditty by Irish band Bell X-1. The blurb next to the download button cheerfully informs us that "The Bell X-1 was the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of light". But if that isn't good enough for you, we have also received news from the BT futurology department. Seems tomorrow is the 80th anniversary of traffic lights. Good, eh? To celebrate, BT's Mystic Megs have put together a timeline of transport milestones for the next fifty years or so. Cars with automatic steering, 2008 - 2012 Speed controlled automatically, 2011-2015 Fully automated-piloted cars, 2016-2020 Time travel invented, 2051 onwards Faster than light travel, 2051 onwards Marvellous. ®
ReviewReview Almost as soon as Intel-based Macs were available to buy, clever coders were trying to figure out how to run Windows XP on them. Mac OS X not good enough for you, guys? Well, in some cases no, it's not. Mac OS X may be the better product - discuss... - but Windows has access to far more software applications and hardware toys that the Apple operating system does. From gamers to software developers to business users, there are solid reasons why a Mac user might want to run the 'other' operating system.
AOL in the US is to offer free email addresses. But the annouoncement won't have an impact in the UK - where AOL is still up for sale. You can already get an email address ending @aol.co.uk for free from their portal. Some US subscribers get internet access through someone else, like a cable company, but still pay AOL for other services like email or parental controls. But now ex-AOL customers, or soon to be ex, will be able to keep their AOL email addresses. The company has altered its portal to provide more free content in order to increase visitor numbers and page impressions. AOL will offer email, its own IM, and a local phone number for unlimited incoming calls. It will stop marketing its dial-up service. Presumably the moves are an attempt to move AOL away from straight access business into more of a web player. More announcements are expected shortly - today is Time Warner's results day. It made a $1bn profit in the quarter on revenues of $10.7bn. AOL saw subscription revenue fall but this was made up for by increased revenue from adverts. Today's other "free as in not" offer comes from "Leading ISP Namesco". This "free" offer costs £60 to connect to and will cost you £10.95 a month after the first year which is "free". For that you get a 516Kb connection capped after 2GB of downloads a month. Namesco is also giving away an Aston Martin DB9 to celebrate its tenth birthday. More details here.
McAfee has fixed a flaw involving older versions of its consumer security software that creates a means for hackers to compromise vulnerable systems. The bug is the latest in a string of flaws affecting security software packages that have come to light over recent months. In this case, the unspecified security bug relates to McAfee SecurityCenter, creating a means to execute hostile code providing users can be tricked into visiting a malicious website. The vulnerability affects versions 4.3 through 6.0.22 of SecurityCenter, a component of a wide range of McAfee security products including: McAfee Internet Security Suite 2006, McAfee Wireless Home Network Security, McAfee Personal Firewall Plus, McAfee VirusScan, McAfee Privacy Service, McAfee SpamKiller and McAfee AntiSpyware. Users are advised to update to McAfee SecurityCenter, as explained in an advisory by McAfee here. Most, but not all, McAfee users will automatically receive the update. The bug was discovered by security researchers at eEye Digital Security, which has published an advisory here. ®
Tiscali has been struggling with its webmail and pop3 servers since Sunday, and some of its subscribers have had no access to email for the last four days. According to one reader, who contacted us by carrier pigeon (actually via another email account): "Tiscali is currently going through another email outage. Despite being accessable on the server I cannot collect my pop3 mail on this address. "This has been ongoing since Sunday with no explanation as to the cause yet. Calling the status phone line (0845 663 2200) gives a brief recorded message that refers callers to the website for current details." Tiscali's own status page acknowledges that there is a problem, and says its webmail and pop3 servers are running at only 80 per cent capacity. However, a statement on the status page adds that its engineers have analysed the maintenance results and say that the majority of customers are able to use the service. It also warns that its netphone and fax service is currently undergoing "critical maintenance". Tiscali told us late this afternoon, "We are aware that a small proportion of customers are currently experiencing problems in accessing their mail. "Our technical team is working to resolve the issue as a matter of urgency and we apologise to customers for any inconvenience." Thanks to Patrick for the heads up. More info as we get it. ®
EMI is to license its digital music catalog to former P2P felon Mashboxx - a sign that the major labels are blessing a "try before you buy" approach to digital music. But it also leaves the door open to other approaches. Mashboxx will use the Snocap system - which identifies digital songs and tracks their exchanges against a central database, developed by a team that includes former Napster author Shawn Fanning. As outlined by EMI and Mashboxx on Friday, users will be entitled to five plays of a full length song before DRM locks down the file completely, with the system inviting you to purchase the track. Rival legitimate services offer only 30 second previews. Mashboxx signed a similar deal with Sony-BMG and began a closed beta more than a year ago. The beta identified unlicensed material on the P2P networks, and offered the user a "legal", and presumably glitch-free version. The joint release with EMI confirmed that this "conversion" option was still a feature of the Mashboxx software. There's still no sign of the service being offered to the general public, however. Last week Kazaa reached an out of court settlement with the four major labels, agreeing to pay $100m in compensation.®
Samsung today rolled out its SGH-Z560 HSDPA-compatible clamshell phone in France and Germany ahead of the handset's appearance in other European countries. The 16.3mm-thick, 98g phone has a two megapixel camera with autofocus and sports a 2.3in, 240 x 320, 262,144-colour main display. It's got 30MB of memory, expandible using MicroSD cards. Bluetooth's on board too. ®
Microsoft has succeeded in its application to have a new judge hear the latest twist in its patent case against Eolas. The case, which is worth over $500m to Eolas, will be reassigned on the orders of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).
LettersLetters If you like to see a debate with subtlety, complexity and nuance, stop reading now.
IBM has bought Webify Solutions in an acquisition giving the giant a suite of industry specific middleware and technologies for service oriented architectures.
LetterLetter We ran an experiment of sorts this week by posting a story full of aliens, alleged cover-ups and general space science. The story proved a big hit, particularly after the Coast to Coast AM radio show discussed it on air to more than 30m people. While most of your letters about the story were civil, a couple missives proved quite accusatory. We thought discussing alien happenings on The Register a decent gesture for the alien set. Not so. We're apparently no better than lying butchers, as you'll find out. This letter doesn't have the classic brevity or capitalization of a world class flame. It does, however, make the requisite break from reality thought crucial to the flame medium. And away we go. Dear Ashlee, I read your article and was disturbed to see your bias calling the people of SETI, fine people. There has long been electronic recording of advanced spacecraft in our skies and many hundreds of people who have come forward to tell the truth of extraterrestrial knowledge within government and interests that are operating on a criminal level. The Disclosure project has nearly 500 witnesses with credentials and documents and detailed knowledge of back engineering of extraterrestrial technology. It is rather sad to see people who willfully prefer to remain ignorant such as yourself. You spin and try to detract from these fine people and then call those who have been totally ignorant to the craft in our skies fine people. This is poor judgement and is not logical. You should be ashamed. Just to name one, Mexico City had 2.5 million witnesses in mass sightings that have been recorded on thousands of devices and has been occurring for many years of advanced antigravity spacecraft in our skies. SETI and NASA are woefully ignorant of these blatant facts. You are probably blind to this. Edgar Mitchell has come forward to confirm of extraterrestrial back engineering projects within our own government. Edgar Mitchell is a fine person and you have betrayed his statements with an article like this. Where have you been? People like you show a certain level of disgrace for willfully being ignorant of whistle blowers who show loyalty to those who are also willfully ignorant such as those of SETI and NASA. NASA is missing 565 billion dollars according to the GAO, a monstrous crime, and the DOD cannot account for more than 2.3 trillion, yes, trillion dollars. This is a criminal level of the highest order. This is a huge crime organization and they are cheating the public of life and blood money based on lies. When you act like this, you do us all a great disservice. Wingnuts like yourself are the fringe element of ignorance and denial. It is very sad. You support known criminal entities like NASA and SETI and misrepresent the facts. You should look into the Disclosure Project and witnesses before you decide to betray their testimony by implying they are fringe when in fact they are high level credentialed members of our own military and government who have stepped forward. You need to evaluate your own motives when it comes to foolish dismissal of respectable people. It is very sad, as you are a prime example of those who like to be ignorant while betraying credible public servants. It truly is a disgrace. Perhaps you need to join the Bush crime organization, as they lie to go to war and butcher people based on lies for greed. Are you better than this? To support liars and criminals is whacko, and you seem like a whacko because of your poor at best, judgement. You should research the Disclosure Project before you write your next hit piece, as you are betraying brave souls who are trying to tell us the truth with documentation. I expect you will ignore all the sightings and whistle blowers as that is what ignorant people do. Please prove me wrong and research the Disclosure Project before you write a spin article like this. You are a prime example of much of what is wrong with this world. Looking forward to your next article, which hopefully will not be more of the same poor judgement. Steven Greer should be the bane of SETI who has been long operating on a criminal level called fraud, like NASA and the DOD. Again, where have you been? Look what they have done and look at the condition of our planet. Acknowledge the advanced antigravity craft in our skies. Be real. Who's side are you on? The criminals or the whistle blowers? Should you be telling the public something that is not based in fact? Should you support mass murders and war criminal barbarism based on lies and fraud who steal billions from the public? This is very sad. Be true to us, the world and yourself. Be honest and look at the facts first. It is very sad. I am open to comments to defend your position as I am open to reason. Looking forward to hearing from you if you are true to humanity. Sincerely, Norman Bryden Consider this our indication of being true to humanity. ®
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed its latest installment in the As the Rambus Turns saga. The Feds have found that Rambus illegally monopolized four key technologies found in DRAM chips. Today's FTC ruling builds on four years of legal wrangling with Rambus. The commission had accused Rambus of deceiving the memory standard-setting body JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) by failing to disclose intentions to patent technology that would eventually be part of the DDR SDRAM specification. These past claims have been confirmed by the FTC's unanimous ruling today against Rambus. "Rambus's conduct was calculated to mislead JEDEC members by fostering the belief that Rambus neither had, nor was seeking, relevant patents that would be enforced against JEDEC-compliant products," the FTC wrote in its decision." “Through its successful strategy, Rambus was able to conceal its patents and patent applications until after the standards were adopted and the market was locked in. Only then did Rambus reveal its patents – through patent infringement lawsuits against JEDEC members who practiced the standard. This case has dragged on and on with Rambus actually winning a round here and there. In February of 2004, for example, a judge tossed out the FTC's anti-trust case against Rambus. That temporarily cleared the way for Rambus to seek patent royalties from some memory makers and to battle others - such as Infineon and Micron - in court. The FTC appealed that decision and has worked to introduce new evidence in its proceedings against Rambus. The commission now looks to figure out an appropriate penalty that will cover "the substantial competitive harm that Rambus’s course of deceptive conduct has inflicted.” Rambus maintains that it did not deceive JEDEC at all. Rather, it made superior technology that rivals then allegedly misappropriated. "“We are disappointed with aspects of today’s ruling, but are focused on the remedy stage and believe that, if the Commission tries to set royalty rates, we can demonstrate our rates have been reasonable and fair," said Rambus senior legal advisor John Danforth. Proving its dislike for Rambus, the FTC closed out its statement on today's ruling by dishing out an unusual parting jab. “Rambus’s abuse of JEDEC’s standard-setting process was intentional, inappropriate, and injurious to competition and consumers alike." ®
Valley JusticeValley Justice Surprise, surprise. The US government has asked a California court to take a second look at a recent decision that allowed the EFF’s wiretap case to proceed against AT&T.
Symantec has shed more light on potential vulnerabilities in Windows Vista that could circumvent new security measures and leave users vulnerable to attack. The security specialist expects hackers will try to work around restrictions in Windows Vista that sandbox code downloaded from the internet in the hopes of preventing attacks on other PC system resources. Symantec says it's just a matter of time before "a low-privilege, low-integrity level process" will ultimately bypass Windows Vista's new system for securing user's machines "and ultimately execute code at a high- privilege, high-integrity level." Symantec released the information in its latest paper, Analysis of the Windows Vista Security Model Analysis, which updates its overview of Windows Vista's network security last month. Readers wanting technical details should click here for the PDF. The paper stresses its assessment is based on an out-of-the box installation of Windows Vista running on code used in Microsoft's February Community Technology Preview (CTP). Symantec concedes later builds of the operating system have closed potential gaps, and that Windows Vista's out-of-the-box security is already a "significant" improvement over previous versions of Windows. However, Symantec's principal security researcher Matthew Conover wrote he "expects several other privilege escalation vulnerabilities to be discovered." The nub of the issue appears to be a system of privileges Windows Vista assigns to both code and the end user. Microsoft's User Account Control (UAC) asks users to enter their credentials, which will depend on their company's security policy, before they are allowed to do things like install software. Windows Vista also defines the "integrity" of things like objects and processes to control different levels of access they have to different system resources. According to Microsoft's documentation, all files and registry keys will have a "medium" default integrity level, while IE running in protected mode - which it will do when installed out of the box - has a "low" integrity level. That means IE is not allowed to modify existing files on a Windows Vista machine, and will receive "access denied" error messages should it try to change files. One popular means of attacking PCs is for the user to either visit a web site running malicious code, with code automatically downloading, installing and consuming system resources or stealing data. Another is for the user to download and install code, breezing through any warning pop-ups that get in way. Changes in Windows Vista are designed to close these avenues of attack. Conover, though, expects hackers will see this defense strategy as a potential challenge. He expects hackers will look for ways to turn code downloaded using IE from low to medium or even high integrity. Next, he predicted it will be "just a matter of time" before hackers find ways to abuse Windows local and remote procedure calls (LPCs and RPCs) using high-integrity processes. LCPs and RPCs a favored method of attacking servers and PCs running older versions of Windows. Of course, hyping Vista security fears can't hurt Symantec's business.®