CommentComment Ever since NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone lent their support to Motorola and Samsung to create an open Linux handset architecture, the open source platform has gained new credibility as the likely leading operating system for smartphones in the next generation. For the first time, Linux seemed to be gaining not just the political positioning, but the technical resources and unity, to be adequate in fighting off Microsoft Windows Mobile and possibly sidelining Nokia-backed Symbian. But Orange has leapfrogged those giants, becoming the first tier one mobile carrier to launch a Linux initiative, as opposed to supporting some isolated handsets. It is focusing its efforts not on the existing major mobile variants - notably MontaVista - but on the emerging Access Linux Platform, which incorporates the former Palm user interface. Orange has approved the Access Linux Platform (ALP) and will use the Japanese firm's product in conjunction with its own Orange Application Package to offer device manufacturers a turnkey mobile Linux platform. Like the Vodafone-DoCoMo initiative, this shows the carriers taking the initiative in driving new handset functionality, and working to reduce their costs and time to market by encouraging their suppliers to use standardized building blocks. Yves Maitre, vice president of devices at Orange, said: "This is part of our wider Signature Devices strategy, which delivers a consistent customer experience across a variety of devices and applications and.will enable us to foster the growth of the mobile Linux market." This is a major coup for Access, which acquired the former software arm of Palm, Palmsource, in order to combine the benefits of an open source OS and a user interface that has been well liked by operators and high end users. In doing so, it preserved many of the key Palm software technologies - even as the outlook for the PalmOS itself looked increasingly bleak, with Palm itself now supporting Windows Mobile too - and gave mobile Linux what it most badly needed, an acceptable interface. PalmSource will, over time, entirely replace the proprietary kernel in its Cobalt 6.1 PalmOS handset operating system with Linux. It will provide a future for the Palm community, even if Palm itself, the device making element of the company, which remains independent, shifts entirely to Windows. "As the stewards of PalmOS, we have included in ALP a compatibility engine (GHost) that provides forward compatibility for the 25,000 strong PalmOS application titles base - one of the largest in the mobile content and services market," said the Japanese company. This is the first mainstream deployment of the combined Access/Palmsource technology and so will be an interesting proving ground for other operators as well as for developers. Orange has built something of a reputation for gaining differentiation by supporting new operating systems at an early stage - it gave Windows Mobile its first major dose of credibility a few years ago when it supported it ahead of other tier one carriers. Access and its PalmSource subsidiary have also launched the Access Developer Network, an online resource designed to accelerate the creation, distribution and usage of mobile Linux applications as well as to extend the existing PalmSource developer community. Access hopes this will kick off the formation of a Mobile Linux ecosystem - in the early days of Palm, the strong support of a well supported developer community and partner ecosystem was critical to the company's dominance of the first generation PDA/smartphone sector. Also in the field of mobile Linux, Trolltech has launched an open mobile device for application developers. Greenphone enables developers to create, modify and test Linux-based applications on a working GSM/GPRS device, aiming to speed time to market. Greenphone will be offered as part of a complete software development kit and includes Trolltech's Qtopia Phone Edition, an application platform and user interface for Linux-based mobile phones. Copyright © 2006, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.
At the end of round 25 of Auction 66, the ongoing FCC sell-off of licenses in the AWS band in 1.7GHz and 2.1GHz, bids totalled $11.3bn.
Salesforce.com has linked up with Google's advertising program, AdWords, after acquiring an add-on with its purchase of tech firm Kieden. Salesforce.com acquired San Francisco-based tech firm Kieden Corporation in August 2006, but has not disclosed any details of the deal, including the price tag. The small tech firm has created an application that can be used to integrate AdWords with Salesforce.com's software, making it easier to manage the campaigns. The acquisition of Keiden sees Salesforce.com unveiling a new offering, called Salesforce for Google AdWords, which allows users to create, manage, and measure search engine marketing campaigns from directly within Salesforce. "Business applications are moving to the business web and Salesforce for Google AdWords is a perfect example of the innovation that is possible when we embrace the reality that the future of software is on-demand business services," said Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com chairman and CEO. During the pilot phase of the programme, which began on Tuesday, the new Salesforce offering will be available for a free 30 day trial to all Salesforce customers. The general availability release of Salesforce.com for Google AdWords is expected to take place during the second half of the year; from then, the service will cost $300 per organisation per month. The product is available via the Salesforce.com AppExchange, the company's development environment which was launched in January 2006 and currently contains more than 300 applications from 200 companies. The integrated system manages everything from the creation and placement of the ads to tracking the campaigns and measuring the campaign's effectiveness. Salesforce.com believes its new offering addresses the growing popularity of search engine advertising, and the difficulties some firms may have with integrating the new medium into their existing business systems. "Companies have been searching for better ways to understand how spending on online search engine advertising delivers real-world sales," said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research. "Salesforce for Google AdWords bridges the gap to enable companies to track how, and if, their investment in online advertising actually delivers." And according to a recent AMR Research survey, measuring return on marketing investment ranked as one of the top considerations with technology spend. Copyright © 2006, ENN
In feedback to the article I co-wrote here, I was accused of being “way ahead of the game” so far as ordinary development goes. Well, I was just talking to Mike Oara, CTO of Relativity and his colleague, product marketing manager Peter Mollins; and they seem to have some very similar ideas in the much more prosaic “legacy application modernisation” space. I wouldn't push the similarities too far, but the differences in approaches are a matter of degree, not kind.
JCBdieselmax is officially the world's fastest diesel-powered vehicle after hitting 333 miles per hour yesterday. The car completed two runs - the first at 324mph and the return run at 333.3mph - giving an average of 328.8mph. This easily beats the previous record of 235.7mph set in 1973. The team is not finished yet, and will make another attempt later today. Record attempts are made early in the morning when conditions on the salt flats are best. JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford said: This is a marvellous achievement for JCB and a wonderful tribute to British engineering." The car uses two standard JCB engines tuned to produce 750bhp. More on the team website. ®
The vice president of the European Commission wants airlines to provide passenger data to government security services for all flights within Europe. A similar plan for flights to the US was recently vetoed by the European Parliament. Commission vice president Franco Frattini is responsible for justice and security and is yet to make a formal proposal to the commission, but he is determined to see passenger name records (PNR) passed to governments for European flights. "He came up with the idea in London last week where he was discussing terrorism," said a spokesman for Frattini. The move comes as 11 people are charged in relation to alleged plans to blow up airliners bound for America from the UK. "After events in London, he decided to step up security a level," said the spokesman. The sharing of passenger data has proved highly controversial. An agreement between the US and the European Commission to force airlines to give US authorities 34 pieces of information per passenger was opposed by the European Parliament and declared illegal by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). "The proposal is that European governments have access to the same 34 pieces of information on exactly the same principles as that with the US," said the spokesman for Frattini. "The information would be handed to the government of the country a person was flying to and would only be used for anti-terrorism purposes." Data would be likely to be held for three years, as in the US deal, said the spokesman. The plan must be formally put to the commission and then to the Council of Ministers for approval. The commission has until September to come up with a new agreement with the US. It says the new agreement will be substantially the same as the old one, but will comply with the ECJ's demand for a technical legal amendment. The ECJ said the agreement was drafted in relation to the wrong European laws and was therefore illegal; this meant the Court did not proceed to rule on the Parliament's concerns about data protection. The commission claimed this as a victory for the content of its deal, something on which the Court has not yet had the opportunity to rule. "The commission seems to be going down the path of exploiting the ECJ judgment. It announced that the content of the current agreement has not been criticised by the Court and should therefore continue," said Dr Chris Pounder, a data protection specialist with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM. "This is economical with the truth. Because the Court ruled that the agreement was unlawful it didn't deal with the substantial data protection issues raised by the Parliament. These still remain." The European Data Protection supervisor had joined the European Parliament in expressing concerns about the data protection implications of the US plan. "My own view is that the Information Commissioners have been sidelined," said Pounder. "The working party [Article 29 Working Party on data protection] said that this is excessive, and the European Commission are saying 'look, we're having security responsibilities, the privacy angle must take second place'." Frattini's office recognises that the decision will provoke some anger. "This will be somewhat controversial, there will be some countries that will be reluctant to comply," the spokesman said. See: Details of data protection update training sessions in London, Glasgow and Manchester Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
UpdateUpdate The Register is pleasantly surprised to learn that humanity continues to muddle along after a leading Islamic scholar predicted its abrupt destruction on 22 August. Academician Bernard Lewis, a specialist in Middle-Eastern culture and politics, and one of Dick Cheney's favorite thinkers, appeared to have it all worked out in an op-ed piece published by the Wall Street Journal. After a careful reading of scripture, and a bit of arithmetic, Lewis was able to determine the ideal day for Iran to nuke Israel, initiating the atomic Armageddon that we've all been worrying about. Iran was expected to ignite World War III on the anniversary of the prophet Muhammad's journey to Heaven, which this year fell on 22 August. Oddly, the Iranians seem to have had other things on their minds, and marked the occasion with an overture toward negotiating with the West over their controversial nuclear weapons research and development program. Of course, it's entirely possible that the professor misplaced a decimal point somewhere along the way, and that the Apocalypse is still being arranged for some equally important but perhaps less pleasant occasion in the Islamic calendar. The predictions business can be tricky, as everyone knows (The Simpsons' episode "Thank God It's Doomsday" illustrates this nicely, as Homer needs two attempts at calculating the end of the world). We will of course continue to bring our readers all breaking news regarding the end of civilisation. We regret to remind those who bought Gulfstreams, Lamborghinis, etc., on the strength of Professor Lewis's prior prediction, that they're liable for payments until the debt is satisfied or Armageddon commences, whichever comes first. ®
Maidenhead firm The Business Software Centre (TBSC) will supply its tools as a rented service to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Business planning and financial forecasting, staff scheduling, HR, legal support and publishing tools will be available at £16 per month for the whole shebang. TBSC has rights to distribute Atlas Business Solutions and Vipamedia products in Europe. TBSC's Phil Hames said: "In the past, small businesses had to use their capital to deploy multiple software applications plus pay upgrade and service fees. Our delivery model brings tried-and-tested business tools to companies for a low-cost monthly rental fee." The company says the package normally costs over £500. By renting the software customers reduce their upfront costs, and can offset the monthly rental fee against their tax charges. The SMB market is seen as receptive to software as a service. Lower up-front costs make the idea attractive to young companies. ®
In a major breakthrough in bovine linguistic research, experts have confirmed that cows moo with accents distinct to their herd, the BBC reports. John Wells, professor of Phonetics at the University of London, examined West Country farmers' claims that their beasts were mooing with a local twang. Lloyd Green of Glastonbury said: "I spend a lot of time with my ones and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl. I've spoken to the other farmers in the West Country group and they have noticed a similar development in their own herds. It works the same as with dogs - the closer a farmer's bond is with his animals, the easier it is for them to pick up his accent." Professor Wells confirmed Green's observations, explaining: "This phenomenon is well attested in birds. You find distinct chirping accents in the same species around the country. In small populations such as herds you would encounter identifiable dialectical variations which are most affected by the immediate peer group." Linguistics expert Dr Jeanine Treffers-Daller of University of the West of England in Bristol, ruminated: "When we are learning to speak, we adopt a local variety of language spoken by our parents, so the same could be said about the variation in the West Country cow moo." The latest findings will do much to expand our understanding of the bovine world, which has in the last couple of years been enhanced by the revelations that cows enjoy a bit of girl-on-girl and bear grudges. ®
Samsung yesterday unveiled its latest hard drive-equipped music and... er... golf phone. For MP3 fans, the SCH-B570 is fitted with 8GB of storage, and for golfers there's all the information you need to successfully play South Korea's most demanding courses.
Apple has reportedly fired five retail workers for downloading unauthorised copies of Mac OS X 10.5 from the internet. Many more employees have been accused of the same transgression and face a similar sanction, it has been claimed.
A Russian mathematician has turned down one of the discipline's most prestigious awards because he doesn't want to involve himself in self promotion. He was due to have been presented with the Fields Medal by King Juan Carlos of Spain on Tuesday this week. Grigory Perelman published an outline of a proof for the Poincare conjecture back in 2003 as part of his work on the Geometrisation Conjecture, proposed by American mathematician William Thurston in the 1970s. This seeks to characterise all three dimensional surfaces. So far, other researchers working to check and flesh out his idea have not found any flaws. Perelman himself has not spoken publicly about his work, saying that before the checking is completed it would be premature to do so. John Ball, retiring president of the International Mathematical Union, told the BBC that he had gone to visit the reclusive mathematician in St Petersburg to discuss his reasons for declining the award. He said that he wouldn't disclose Perelman's statements beyond saying that Perelman said he felt isolated from the mathematical community, and therefore had no wish to appear to be one of its leaders. "He has a different psychological makeup that makes him see life differently," he added. The Poincare conjecture is one of seven Millennium Prize Problems listed by the Clay Mathematics Institute, with a million dollar bounty offered for a solution. It is considered to be one of the most important questions in topology - the study of the nature of geometric structures. The Fields Medal is awarded to mathematicians under the age of 40 who are judged to have produced "an outstanding body of work". The three other winners this year were Andrei Okounkov of the University of California, Berkeley, Terence Tao from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Wendelin Werner of the University of Paris-Sud in Orsay, France. Andrei Okounkov said "I suppose we will have to exhibit exemplary behaviour from now on, because a lot of people will be watching." The conjecture "asserts that a simply connected closed three-dimensional manifold is a three-dimensional sphere"* Essentially, topology is concerned with the study of geometric shapes - whether a shape has holes in it, whether it is all connected, or can be separated into parts. Topologically speaking, there is no difference between a doughnut and a teacup, because one can deform into the other without being broken. The Poincare conjecture just says that the same is true of a three dimensional sphere, and any other simply connected, closed three dimensional manifold. As with many things in maths (c.f. Fermat, theorem, the last), the conjecture may be relatively easy to state, but the proof is rarely easy to find. Bootnote *"topology". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 23 Aug. 2006
Gigabyte will next month ship an HDMI-equipped graphics card based on Nvidia's GeForce 7600 GS chip, the company said today. The card has HDCP anti-piracy technology on board and an internal digital audio pass-through port. It even appears to be SLI-capable.
ReviewReview Although today is only the paper launch of the long anticipated ATI Radeon X1950 XTX, it's worth waiting until 14 September when you can actually buy one. Not only is it ATI's fastest card, but it's also incredibly affordable and, thanks to a new cooler, it has put the noise problems the plagued past ATI cards behind it...
Accessory maker Griffin Technology has finally begun shipping its Mac-oriented, FireWire-connected 5.1-channel surround sound system FireWave more than 18 months after it announced the product.
One of the architects of the original dot com bubble vowed to return to business yesterday, after a court approved a deal reached between his lawyers and state prosecutors. In a deferred prosecution agreement, former Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) banker Frank Quattrone will avoid a third trial for obstruction of justice charges if he avoids breaking any laws or associating with criminals for 12 months, and notifies the authorities if he moves house or leaves the country. In March, the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) set aside a lifetime ban on Quattrone for refusing to appear on separate civil charges of "spinning" - the preferred allocation of IPO stock - undermining research analyst objectivity, and failure to co-operate with a NASD investigation. "I plan to resume my business career," the former banker said in a prepared statement yesterday. Quattrone has always pleaded his innocence on the spinning allegations. He also denied later criminal charges that he obstructed an investigation into the spinning allegations by endorsing an email to his team to "clean up those files". Quattrone was found guilty of obstruction charges and sentenced to 18 months prison in 2004, a verdict overturned on appeal this year. After successful IPOs at Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, it was at Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) that Quattrone operated a "bank within a bank", overseeing a unit that spun pre-allocation stock to favoured individuals. "It was an unusual Wall Street arrangement," the New York Times later noted. CSFB paid $100m in fines to regulators. In December 2000, a day after learning that a Grand Jury had joined an ongoing investigation into securities practices, CSFB managing director Richard Char mailed Quattrone advising that staff "catch-up on file clean up": "Today, it's administrative housekeeping. In January, it could be improper destruction 31 of evidence." The following day, Char emailed staff with the message, with Quattrone forwarding the message with a brief endorsement for emphasis. This became the basis for the prosecution in two trials. The first was declared a mistrial after the jury failed to agree. The second saw Quattrone found guilty and sentenced to 18 months. Earlier this year, an appeals court ruled that "the evidence is sufficient to support Quattrone's conviction on each count", but was obliged to overturn the verdict citing the judge's directions to the court.®
Two Welsh police officers have been arrested and suspended for allegedly flogging police property on eBay. The two - a 31-year-old man and 27-year-old woman - were arrested earlier this month. The two are accused of selling police property through the auction site. Police took computers and a small amount of cannabis from the house the two share. The two officers are suspended while the investigation continues. A "force insider" told the Mirror: "It is a serious matter - all officers are warned that police clothing should never be sold or even given away because it can get in the wrong hands. They were using nicknames to trade on eBay so it took a lot of detective work to trace them." The items involved have now been removed from eBay, but there are still various bits of police kit available - prices for police helmets start at £5. ®
YouTube yesterday launched a Paris Hilton "Brand Channel" sponsored by Fox's Prison Break and aimed at promoting the multi-talented heiress's debut album Paris. The initiative hopes to generate revenue by incorporating advertising and sponsorship in separate channels where it can be avoided by hardline anti-ad YouTube users. In parallel with the Hilton channel, YouTube rolled out what it calls "participatory video ads" (PVAs). According to Reuters, the first PVA was for Weinstein Co's movie Pulse which "appeared as a video commercial on the YouTube home page that users could rate, share and comment on" - just like any other YouTube content. Down at the Paris Hilton channel, meanwhile, there's a predictable collection of vids and music but, sadly, no trace of One Night in Paris or the Carl's Jr Spicy BBQ Burger cavort - something which will disappoint fans looking for some hot footage of Ms Hilton chewing meat. ®
Mobile device retailer Expansys has begun taking orders for the upcoming UBiQUiO 501 slimline Windows Mobile 5.0 smart phone. And no, that mix of capitals and lower-case characters isn't a byproduct of typing the vendor's name on its device's QWERTY micro-keyboard.
Microsoft has launched a legal offensive against "typosquatters" who register domains containing trademarked terms or misspelled words in the hope that lost surfers will help them rake in ad revenue. Early stages of the campaign include a pair of lawsuits against two, allegedly prolific, typosquatting operations. Redmond has taken up legal cudgels against cybersquatters who use the misspelled domain tactic to "illegally profit through the misuse of Microsoft's intellectual property" using the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) of 1999. ACPA sets damages of up up $100,000 against anyone who, with a bad-faith intent to profit, "registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that is identical to, confusingly similar or dilutive of" an existing trademark. The two lawsuits both feature federal law claims under ACPA and the Lanham Act, as well as state law claims for unfair competition. Jason Cox, of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Daniel Goggins, of Provo, Utah, and John Jonas, of Springville, Utah are alleged to have registered 324 domain names targeting Microsoft in a lawsuit filed in Utah. In a separate lawsuit (filed in California), Dan Brown, of Long Beach, Calif, is alleged to have registered 85 domain names that directly target Microsoft via a firm called Partner IV Holdings. The software giant is also seeking to unmask alleged typosquatters who have used privacy protection services to conceal their identities. Microsoft plans to issue subpoenas to multiple registrars of domain names infringing on Microsoft's intellectual property. The company also vowed to clamp down on online auctions of infringing domain names. Typosquatting sites are normally full of pay-per-click advertisements and little meaningful content, so surfers who get lost trying to find Microsoft's legitimate sites are faced with potential confusion. "Thousands of such domains targeting Microsoft are being registered each day," according to the software giant. This is, perhaps, something of an exaggeration. Nonetheless, Microsoft has hired internet safety lawyer Aaron Kornblum to clamp down on website cybersquatters and typosquatters. Redmond said the practice of typosquatting domains bearing similarities to its trademarks has grown since the start of the year. It plans to expand its existing anti-phishing Domain Defense Program to identify cybersquatters. "Microsoft has witnessed a virtual land rush for internet domain names with the goal of driving traffic for profit," Kornblum said. "Placing a high profile or pop culture trademark in your domain name is a tempting but illegal way to generate pay-per-click revenue." ®
Australian airline Qantas has issued guidelines to those passengers taking their lives into their hands by powering up a Dell laptop with a potentially fire-breathing battery while on board. The company has declared that "although passengers would be allowed to carry their Dells either as checked or cabin baggage, they could only use them on battery power or through the aircraft power supply available in some first and business class cabins once they have first removed the batteries from the unit", The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) explains. The measures are in accordance with Dell's own advice issued to users such as tech consultant Mitch Denny, who travelled from Canberra on Monday and told the SMH that he'd found "security personnel removing the batteries from all Dell computers, and taping up the contact points on the battery". Denny elaborated: "They stopped me at the security gate where I was told I couldn't use my Dell laptop on the plane. I told them it wasn't one of the affected units, but they said all Dell batteries had to be taped according to an agreement between Dell and Qantas." Qantas was unable to say how long Dell users will be subjected to this humiliation, but a spokesman noted: "We are closely monitoring the situation as Dell's retrofit program progresses." ®
China-born tech entrepeneur and eMachines founder Lap Shun Hui has confirmed he is offering $450m for Gateway's retail business. Gateway said today it is reviewing an unsolicited expression of interest from Hui. An approach was first made 3 August, but Gateway did not "constructively engage in discussions", according to Hui's letter to the board. Gateway acquired budget PC brand eMachines in 2004. After closing its Gateway-branded stores, the firm's retail business is now done by flogging cheap eMachines PCs through partner shops. Hui encouraged Gateway to separate its retail business from other operations to return to profitability. Earlier this month, Gateway, the third largest US PC builder, reported a Q2 loss of $7.7m on revenues of $919m. Rumours in June suggested Hui wanted to get back into the PC game by buying Packard Bell from NEC. Hui's offer currently stands at $1.21 per share. Gateway's stock jumped more than 12 per cent on Wall Street yesterday, closing at $1.72. ®
Details have emerged of ATI's upcoming Radeon X1300 XT and Radeon X1650 Pro GPUs, which the company announced today but provided relatively little in the way of detail. Graphics card supplier sources suggest each part will be offered in a range of memory and core clock configurations.
Microsoft will start selling a stripped-down version of Windows in South Korea this week which doesn't include its media player or instant message software. The stripped down version of Windows XP is required so Microsoft can fulfill promises made to Korea's Fair Trade Commission (KFTC). The KFTC ruled in December that Microsoft must pay $34m and provide a version of XP without certain features. The ruling is not dissimilar to the European Commission case, but Microsoft has described it as even more severe. Microsoft appealed the decision in March but lost. The first complaint about Microsoft came from Korean portal Daum, but Microsoft paid it $30m to go away in November 2005. Microsoft is still waiting to hear the verdict of its appeal against the European Commission anti-trust decision. ®
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has sent the Home Office to sit on the naughty stair after complaints about a radio campaign promoting online child safety that sent listeners to porn sites instead. The ad, which was to promote an online child safety website, directed listeners to check out the site at www.ThinkuKnow.co.uk. Sadly for the Home Office (no, really, our hearts are bleeding), there is also a website called www.thinkyouknow.co.uk which lists various services such as web hosting, broadband providers, car insurance, online dating and so on. Just one more click, the complainants said, will lead you to adult chatrooms, including www.womenwant.co.uk, which advertises itself as follows: "Find your kinky kicks here! Erotic chat, casual hot sex & more." This in turn is an aggregator of sites, so to get to anything remotely resembling a pair of boobs does take some persistence, and a real wish to be offended. Still, most embarrassing for HM Gov, particularly given the intended nature of the promotional spot. Indeed, this is why the ASA has taken the complaints that the advert exposed people to pornography so seriously. It said: "This was particularly concerning as the ad was aimed at teenagers and the service being promoted was to help them stay safe online." It ruled that the promotion should not be aired again. ®
You can't blame people for illegally downloading music for free, because that's about all it's worth, according to Bob Dylan, in an interview with Rolling Stone this month. Dylan also had a blast at modern recording processes for robbing music of its soul. "You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them," he reckons. "There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like...static." Dylan complained that songs sounded 10 times better in the studio than the final result. And he might have a point. While today's algorithms are constantly being improved, we're told, they have to replace what's already been taken out by a reductive process of encoding and compression. The result? A net loss. Digital "remastering" has also been the excuse for some heinous butchery recently. Universal's Motown CD reissues compress the sound so tightly it sounds like a hiss. You can't sing along to that. Send us your worst examples of digital "enhancements" to the usual address. ®
AMD's quad-core processor will become a dual-core processor if it decides the user isn't giving it enough work to do. The chip will also beef up the on-board cache with an extra level of memory shared between the four cores.
Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) has linked up with MSN Instant Messenger to alert the police about sex offenders. CEOP has come to an agreement with Microsoft that has led to the provision of a "report abuse" icon on MSN Messenger, soon to be Windows Live Messenger. The reports will be sent to police and intelligence officers trained in tackling child abuse. Children and adults logging complaints will have to go through a number of "qualifies" to determine the nature of the alleged abuse. They will also have to reveal their own details and cut and paste the offending message. A CEOP spokesperson told GC News: "Because the reporting is not anonymous it will filter out malicious reports." The officers will then advise the person reporting the incident if necessary, and if immediate action is required they will inform the local police station. CEOP is also the UK representative in the international alliance of law enforcement agencies Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), which will pool information worldwide and give access to a global police response. UK citizen reports will be investigated by CEOP and reports in US, Australia, Canada, or Interpol will take the matter in their own countries. Chief executive of CEOP Centre and chair of VGT Jim Gamble said: "What Microsoft and CEOP are doing is saying enough is enough. By working together in a very clear and tangible way we can safeguard children from online sexual predators. "We will tell you (the internet user) how to capture information and how to seize online discussions and then proactively do all we can to track down the perpetrator." CEOP and Microsoft also plan to provide a new safety tip as part of the tab: for example, how to safeguard personal details or spot a potential threat. The organisation said it is encouraging other instant relay chat providers to join up. 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.
Smartphone OS provider Symbian says 12.3m units running its software shipped in the second quarter of the year, up from 7.8m a year ago. This bagged the company $37.9m in royalty revenues, the bulk of its $41.2m gross revenue. Despite delays to several of the most anticipated models from Nokia and Sony Ericsson, 24m units shipped in the first half of the year, up 65 per cent from a year ago. Royalties account for most of Symbian's revenue - partnering and consultancy revenues fell sequentially. Symbian is privately held and the company doesn't disclose its profits. Earlier this year, Symbian's CFO said the company was comfortably in profit, and that $80m annual revenue represents break even. So by our calculations, the company is on course to clear more than $40m in profit this year. Overall, 55 models are in development, down one from the start of the year. Ninety-two per cent of 3G smartphones are Symbian devices, the company adds. Symbian has Nokia and the Japanese manufacturers to thank for its growth. Four manufacturers including Sony Ericsson produce FOMA devices for the Japanese market, the rest are all from Nokia. Symbian included Sony Ericsson's M600i [Reg Hardware Review], and Nokia's E60 and E70 as devices that shipped in Q2, although you'll have been very fortunate to find any of these before 30 June. It's the last quarterly statement before Symbian's new, lower royalty option becomes available. So far manufacturers have paid $7.25 per unit for the first two million units shipped, and $5 per unit after that. The new royalty schedule permits phone makers to take Symbian OS for $2.50 - without Java - or two per cent of the trade price (Nokia's average selling price per phone is a shade over $100). Symbian's average royalty per unit rose again in the quarter to $5.7 per unit, up from $5.3 a year ago. ®
IBM is to acquire security tools and services firm Internet Security Systems in an all-cash deal valued at $1.3bn, or $28 per share. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2006, subject to approval by regulators and ISS' shareholders. ISS markets a range of intrusion detection and vulnerability assessment tools and services designed to secure corporate networks. It competes with firms such as Symantec and Counterpane. IBM said bringing ISS into its fold will boost its IT services business, particularly in the area of managed security services. Following the completion of the acquisition, ISS will join IBM as a business unit within IBM Global Services' Security organisation. ISS' software technology with be integrated into Tivoli's IT service management portfolio, which already includes software for identity management, access control, and security information management. IBM plans to harness ISS' X-Force security intelligence service to provide its clients with more timely security advice. According to a statement, ISS has more than 11,000 customers worldwide including 17 of the world's largest banks. Post-acquisition, IBM intends to sell ISS' managed services, software, and security appliance products through IBM's and ISS' worldwide sales channels and business partners. ®
Digital television services are expected to rise in popularity during 2006, with the European market outstripping the US by the end of the year. According to the latest report from market analysts Datamonitor, this year will be a "watershed" for high definition television HD TV), internet TV (IPTV) and mobile TV. In Europe some 65m households will make the transition to digital TV services by the end of this year. Already, more than 100m houses in Europe and the US use digital services, with this figure rising to 187m by 2010. However, digital TV penetration will remain higher in the US until the end of 2009. By this time, an estimated 63 per cent of households in both regions should be receiving digital TV services. "Competition across the digital TV sector is now greater than ever before, prompting operators to develop their offerings in order to attract and retain subscribers," says Adrian Drozd, senior media and broadcasting analyst and author of the study. "The emergence of IPTV will act to boost levels of competition and add new impetus to the plans of established operators." However, IPTV is expected to remain a niche market for the most part. The report points out that the medium is facing stiff competition from cable and satellite services, and now digital terrestrial television (DTT). IPTV is expected to account for 9.5m subscribers in Europe by the end of 2010, less than nine per cent of households. "IPTV is primarily a defensive move by the major service providers rolling out services. While they have the potential to generate additional revenues for operators, the key driver of deployment in the short term at least will be improving customer loyalty and adding greater depth to the services provided to consumers over ADSL networks," says Drozd. "In some cases, IPTV may prove to be a financial loss leader, albeit an essential one if telcos are to retain a significant position with regard to provision of consumer communication and entertainment services." After the initial excitement over HD TV, the report is forecasting steady adoption over the next two years. The US is leading the way, with its sales of HD TVs some three years ahead of the European market. At the end of 2005, almost 20 per cent of US households owned a HD-capable TV, compared to about two million HD-ready households in Europe. Services in Europe are also limited. The personal video recorder (PVR) market is disappointing in Europe, with fewer than two per cent of households expected to have a PVR by the end of the year. Sky will account for a significant number of these households; it currently has 1.6m Sky+ subscribers. The digital TV market in Europe is also due for a boost in the coming years thanks to moves to switch off analogue broadcasts. The European Commission has already expressed its wish that the analogue television service be switched over to digital in the coming years; 2012 has been mentioned as a target date. Ireland's digital service is still in its infancy, although British broadcaster Sky has a considerable foothold in the market. The broadcaster has more than 427,000 subscribers in Ireland. However, the situation may change soon enough; Ireland's digital terrestrial television (DTT) pilot programme is getting underway, and will run for two years. Broadcasts will take place from two separate sites. Copyright © 2006, ENN
Women over 50 will be the best bosses in the future because they understand the importance of flexible working, according to research from BT. A YouGov survey of employers and employees across the UK found that women are more comfortable managing a workforce that works flexible hours, or from home. They were 50 per cent more likely than men to say they trusted their staff. Since staff said that being trusted was the most important thing they could ask for in a work environment, BT concludes that women are thus better suited to being in charge. Trust was cited as the most important management skill by 38 per cent of respondents. The next most important quality was good communications skills (21 per cent) followed by good organisation (14 per cent) and the ability to motivate (12 per cent). Younger managers are the most suspicious [probably because they are the most likely to slope off for a swift half when the boss' back is turned - Ed], as 38 per cent report not trusting flexible workers. Those over 50 are inclined to be more indulgent, with just 25 per cent saying their staff could not be trusted to work from home. BT people and policy director Caroline Waters said the survey highlighted the importance of softer management skills. "The emphasis put on trust and strength of relationship between employers and employees points to the fact that women, and in particular women over 50, are the ideal management role model in this increasingly flexible business world." ®
It's official: despite the long-held belief that male ballroom dancers susbscribe exclusively to the Friends of Dorothy, Strictly Come Dancing "star" Brendan Cole has proved that they're not to be messed with by slapping former Hollyoaks "star" Lee Otway six times in a drunken row. Sadly, viewers will not be able to enjoy this ratings-boosting scrap since the two clashed in the back of a limo "after producers sent them on a drink-fuelled yacht cruise around the Fijian island where the reality show is based", the BBC explains. Otway apparently threw the first punch, and got half-a-dozen back for his trouble. According to various sources, Cole rather splendidly explained: "That's one punch for every week you've pissed me off." Cole later lamented: "I'm disappointed it's come to that after six weeks on Love Island because this should have been an amazing experience." The pair have, however, apparently now kissed and made up. Punch-ups aside, Love Island has proved a ratings flop, due possibly to the uninspiring list of contestants ("ex-Boyzone singer Shane Lynch, model Sophie Anderton, socialite Lady Victoria Hervey, Pierce Brosnan's son Chris and Paul Gascoigne's step-daughter Bianca", the BBC notes) coupled with the fact that it is completely meritless televisual garbage. ®
It's official - Sony is indeed going to offer a pink PlayStation Portable in association, we're told, with the chart-topping pop chanteuse of the same name the better to attract "young women with freedom, confidence and attitude" to the platform. Unlike the upcoming pink PS2, the salmon-hued portable console doesn't ship with appropriately tinted accessories - including a 32MB Memory Stick Duo and a Pink UMD - but it too is a limited edition, Sony said. It'll be in European shops on 27 October priced at £169/€229. ®
The Edinburgh Film Festival has decided to pull the 1974 film Cockfighter from its schedule because, as the title suggests, it's packed with graphic scenes of cockfighting - which is illegal in Britain. Festival manager Charlotte Higgins canned the programmed screening after a complaint from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The movie, directed by Monte Hellman, and which "won praise for its central performance by Warren Oates", as the BBC explains, never got a UK certificate because of its unreconstructed cockfighting scenes. The British Board of Film Classification's Sue Clark explained: "The film was never edited for classification in the UK because it's called Cockfighter. And if you take out all the cockfighting scenes there's not much left." To underline just how much cockfighting there is in Cockfighter, the Internet Movie Database rather brilliantly summarises the film as a "southern action drama film about cockfighting". It's seemingly not available to buy at the various UK online DVD outlets we tried, so those of you interested in seeing just how good Warren Oates' performance is will have to look abroad. ®
Just when things were looking up for Pluto, astronomers have come up with a new definition of a planet that would leave the poor little mite out in the cold. After last week's proposed definition of a planet, Pluto, along with the asteroid Ceres and two other large Kuiper belt objects, looked set to be officially classed as a planet. Or at least a pluton*, a sort of minor planetish thing, but still a planet. However, scientists being scientists, a counter definition was almost immediately put forward at the International Astronomers Union in Prague, according to New Scientist. Following a bit of a scuffle behind closed doors, accusations of ignoring the democratic process, and much bad language (we're just guessing on that last bit) a compromise definition has been written. The original draft said a body could be classed as a planet if it met the following conditions: (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet. The new draft includes a third quality: the object must be the dominant body in its orbital area. Pluto would be ejected from the planetary brotherhood under this definition, as its orbit crosses that of Neptune, which is much larger (Sadly, Beavis, any jokes about Uranus will have to be filed for another time). Planet-ish objects that meet the earlier definition, but fail to make the grade because of the new criterion could be called dwarf planets, or planetoids. Naturally, this is still a controversial point. The definition would also only apply to planets in our solar system, leaving astronomers plenty to argue about when they find other almost spherical objects orbiting other stars. The assembled professional skywatchers are set to vote on the definition tomorrow. Stay tuned for the result. ® *Bootnote: Geologists have objected to the word Pluton, as it already has a meaning in Geology. It is a term used to describe a body of igneous rock formed beneath the surface of the earth by consolidation of magma.
Iomega this week this week expanded its external hard drive line-up with a pair of slimline dual-port products aimed at users on the move.
A 19-year-old man today pleaded guilty to breaking the Computer Misuse Act for sending an "email bomb" to his former employer, which caused the company's email server to collapse. David Lennon of Bedworth, Warwickshire, breached section three of the Act, "causing an unauthorised modification to a computer", and was sentenced at Wimbledon Youth Court to a two month curfew. He must also wear an electronic tag. In early 2004 Lennon, who was 16 at the time of the incident, sent about five million emails to his former employer Domestic & General Insurance, causing its email server to pack up. The messages appeared to come either from D&G staff or Bill Gates, and included a quote from horror film The Ring: bUt He DoEsN't KnOw......" "He DoEsN't KnOw WhAt, SaMaRa?" "EvErYoNe WiLl SuFfEr Domestic & General had ended Lennon's employment with the firm in 2003. The Met's Computer Crime Unit rolled into action and traced the attack to an address in the West Midlands which was raided on 4 June 2004 and Lennon arrested. He was originally sent for trial at Wimbledon Youth Court, but on 2 November 2005 the judge ruled there was no case to answer and dismissed the case on the grounds that as an email server is set up with the express purpose of receiving emails, sending it emails, albeit millions of them, could not be considered "unauthorised modification". The Crown Prosecution Service appealed the verdict and the case was returned to Wimbledon Youth Court where Lennon today pleaded guilty. Detective chief inspector Charles McMurdie welcomed the first conviction for this type of offence. ®
IBM continued its summer parade of storage launches this week, this time taking aim at higher end enterprises. The high-end DS8000 series gets a proper update with two new models. The DS8100 Turbo and DS8300 Turbo, based on POWER5+ processors, have 4Gb/s fibre channel, and FICON for fast connection to mainframes. IBM claims a raft of other improvements for the duo, with better options for tiered storage, disaster recovery implementation, and value. Prices start at $213,400, and the kit will be available in November. The existing DS6000 gets more limited enhancements, with support for fibre channel ATA drives and tiered storage options starting at $102,600. IDC storage analyst Eric Sheppard told The Reg the addition of FATA should fit in nicely with IBM's disaster recovery play. IBM's relationship with NAS specialist NetApp bore more fruit in the shape of new N-series gear. IBM System Storage N7600 and N7800 scale up to 504TB of enterprise-class storage starting at $140,500. Gateway models start at $113,500 and can be attached to Hitachi and HP systems already in place. NetApp EVP Tom Georgens said: "The introduction of the products represents a significant milestone in NetApp's strategic relationship with IBM." Sheppard said IBM's relationship with NetApp is especially vital for Big Blue's high-end storage relationships. Because customers don't have to go through a NetApp reseller, the potential is for IBM to minimise its competition in NAS, he added.®
An unnamed firm from the south-eastern Chinese city of Shenzhen has been fined 5,000 yuan ($630) for distributing spam email, after the first case of its kind in the country. The mystery firm was clobbered after distributing a "vast amount" of junk mail since January, the China Daily reports. It's unclear what the offending messages were seeking to promote. Firms or individuals found guilty of distributing spam cam be fined up to 30,000 yuan ($3,765) under newly-enacted laws on "Measures for the Administration of Internet Email Service", announced in March. Chinese authorities hope the fine against the Shenzhen firm will act as a deterrent. "The fine will send a warning to spam senders," Zhang Aiping, vice-director of the Guangdong Provincial Administration of Communication told China Daily. Until recently, China has acted as a "safe-haven" for spammers offering so-called bullet-proof hosting - in reality, unscrupulous ISPs who pull the plug on spammers when enough complaints are received by their upstream provider. Foreign spammers (many from the US) have exploited China's historically lax attitude to junk mail to offshore spam runs to Chinese ISPs. But attitudes in the Chinese ISP market are changing and local service providers have shown their willingness to work with international organisations, such as Spamhaus, who is rooting out illegal spam gangs. The front-line of this fight has moved onto the desktops of ordinary net users. Last month, net security firm Sophos reported that almost 20 per cent of spam originated from computers based in China. Much of this spam is being sent out through virus-infected hosts, known as "zombies", in botnet networks of compromised Windows PCs under the control of hackers. Junk mail is a burden on net users worldwide and China's surfers are far from immune. The Internet Society of China estimates the country's 111m internet users receive more than 50bn junk mails per year. ®
If you think BenQ Mobile's Hello Kitty handset is just too darn girly for you, you're probably not going to be impressed with its follow-up either. The company is to offer a second AL26 handset, this time boasting a butterfly logo to make it "the perfect fashion accessory for young, style-conscious women".
The number of compromised zombie PCs has shot up by almost a quarter (23 per cent) over the last week because of the release of a new computer worm variant, according to security appliance firm CipherTrust. CipherTrust Research Labs has identified an average of 265,000 zombies per day since the release of the latest Mocbot worm variant, which is exploiting the MS06-040 Windows vulnerability announced on 8 August in order to spread. The junk mail cohorts of hackers are using Windows PCs infected with the worm to step up spam campaigns, according to CipherTrust. "Mail volumes have once again reached a high this week, with spam making up 81 per cent of the traffic. Much of this increase can be attributed to the spam originating from the new zombies unleashed by the Mocbot worm," said Ed Rowley, a technical consultant at CipherTrust. The Internet Storm Centre has compiled a helpful list of recommendations to assist in repelling this botnet threat, which can be found here. ®
Return to 2000Return to 2000 Slap me and call me Susan - or maybe Tom. Sun Microsystems has gained server market share two quarters in a row. Yes, we've hacked into an old Audrey to write this story and ordered some toothpaste on Pets.com because it feels like 2000 all over again. Okay, okay. Not quite a full-blown 2000. More of a neutered, Ambien over Ritalin version where decent market share gains do as much for you as obliterating the competition used to. [Focus - Ed.] Sun Microsystems stood out during the second quarter as the only vendor to grow its server revenue by double-digits. Sun picked up $1.6bn worth of sales - a rise of 14 per cent year-over-year, according to fresh figures from Gartner. That means that Sun outperformed its first quarter run when it grew sales by 8 per cent. You may want to slap yourself at this point and make sure this isn't a dream. The last time Sun gained meaningful server market share two quarters in a row it was suing Microsoft and bullying IBM. And Sun's gains don't seem to be a figment of Gartner's imagination. Rival IDC, for example, showed Sun with a 16 per cent year-over-year revenue gain to $1.6bn in sales. Of course, you can only put so much faith in IDC's server Oracle at Framingham. Why focus so much on Sun? Well, the second quarter was mostly an uneventful dud without the kids from the Santa Clara asylum. Overall, server shipments increased 13 per cent during the second quarter with all vendors working together to ship 2m units. That led to a 2.5 per cent rise in sales and a worldwide server market at $12.4bn. Smaller systems continued to dominate growth with x86 and blade servers proving popular during the quarter. IBM remained the server king but did so in unimpressive fashion. IBM's sales fell 2 per cent to $3.6bn. HP's sales fell 4 per cent to $3.4bn, and Dell's sales fell 2 per cent to $1.3bn, according to Gartner. Fujitsu/Siemens was the only vendor besides Sun to register a sales spike with revenue jumping 8 per cent to $562m. All hail the SPARC vendors. When looking at shipments, HP is top the vendor followed by Dell, IBM, Sun and Fujitsu. All of the major vendors enjoyed double-digit shipment growth except for - you guessed it - Dell. Shipments in Round Rock rose just 2 per cent, while the other Tier 1s saw shipments jump between 12 and 14 per cent, Gartner said. All hail Opteron. Sun's fortunes have been boosted by strong sales of its Opteron-based servers and higher than expected interest in its UltraSPARC T1-based servers. The company's focus on energy-efficient servers looks like the right call given current trends in the marketplace. IBM Fellow Bernard Meyerson told the crowd at the Hot Chips conference yesterday that he expects a power crisis of sorts to occur in the server market come 2007. That's when the overall cost of powering and cooling all the servers in the US will outpace the amount of money spent on new servers. Meyerson urged server vendors and customers to focus on well designed "systems" as opposed to concentrating on buying "cheap" gear with the latest and greatest processors. Such a pitch, even coming from IBM, plays right into Sun's strategy and continues to do damage for a company like Dell. ®
The Huffington Post has suffered through a short, uncelebrated career as one of the internet's lamest gag sites since it first logged on back in May of 2005. And the blog's condition has shifted to what doctors call "Mel Gibson's Tequila-infused Critical" this week after it let Adam Hanft make it on the site. Hanft seems to have gotten his Arse Feed confused with his globule in a mad dash to chuck up a huge scoop for the Huffers. In a very concise post, the journalist-cum-advertiser wrote, "Google 'Failure and Be Stunned by the First Link: You heard it here first. But do it quick, before they get the Geheime Staatspolizei to have it removed." Er, okay. Hanft rather seriously seemed to have been claiming that he was the first person to notice that gogoling "Failure" turns up an entry for George Bush. Most folks with a web pulse know that the "failure" gag has been going around for months, only to be preceded by the "miserable failure" gag. Gaming Google with a Bush joke does not a scoop make. If only Hanft had gogoled "Google failure." We have to assume that Hanft is trying to be satirical and fit in with the HuffPost's reality shattering style. Scoop, scoop, scoop!!!! You read it here first!!!! Get it? Or maybe it was just the site saying, "We'll stop at nothing to demean Bush, including letting any tool with a keyboard and mouse dribble drivel here." It's all rather reminiscent of the time former RIAA bulldog Hilary Rosen chastised Apple for its restrictive DRM policies. Not even Chris Morris could make this stuff up. We think the Drudge Report is safe for a few more weeks. ®
BEA Systems has bought a self-styled asset management vendor in a deal beefing up BEA's AquaLogic family for service oriented architectures (SOAs).