13th > September > 2006 Archive
OpinionOpinion Miss Manners tells us that when caught with your pants down, you're meant to pull them back up all the way. Under no circumstances should one allow gaudy, suggestive bits to remain dangling out for public consumption. So why then has HP promoted its top executive to Chairman and trimmed the number of people on its board? That's how HP punished itself today for an unprecedented corporate scandal that employed criminal tactics, according to the California Attorney General. HP spied on its own directors and even worse spied on a cadre of reporters and their loved ones in a bid to clamp down on an innocuous series of leaks. Rather than acting to assure us that something like this never happens again, HP has - in a move reminiscent of Washington - elevated the major players. Chairwoman Patricia Dunn has taken almost the entire blame for the spy fiasco. But instead of reprimanding Dunn in any meaningful way, HP decided to let her give up the Chairman post in January and then stay on as a director. Given the circumstances, that's quite a PR boost. Meanwhile, the all too silent Hurd will ascend to the Chairman throne, adding the title to his CEO and President collection. Confessed leaker George Keyworth resigned from the board, prompting HP to amend its bylaws so that it only has nine directors now. "I am taking action to ensure that inappropriate investigative techniques will not be employed again," Hurd said. "They have no place in HP." For some reason, the majority of the press has given Hurd the leeway to produce such statements. You have to remember that HP has already made use of inappropriate investigative techniques on Hurd's watch. Despite repeated attempts to force Hurd to address this issue, HP has declined to make him available to reporters. Instead, it has sent Dunn in to do the dirty work, hanging the entire incident on her head. HP's approach asks the public to assume a couple of things. You're meant to believe that Dunn masterminded this entire operation, while Hurd stood back as an ignorant bystander. You're also meant to assume that Dunn - and not Hurd - was so furious about media leaks that she - and not he - vowed to clean up HP. Lastly, you're meant to assume that both directors when told that their investigators obtained the phone records of directors and journalists assumed that this had been done legally. That's a lot to swallow under normal circumstances and even more to gullet down when you look at the timeline of events. Dunn, after all, has been a director at HP since 1998. Over the past eight years, HP has proved a geyser of leaked information to the press. We're talking juicy stuff here - not product details and ink prices but serious boardroom dirt. All HP could muster in the pre-Hurd era to deal with the leaks was a semi-formal investigation that included chit-chats with executives. Post-Hurd, however, we discover a much more aggressive HP - one willing to fund the machinations of two investigative firms. So, did Dunn really snap, as we're told, because of a CNET story stating that HP's directors needed a rest after lengthy meetings or did Hurd snap during week one when he took over as CEO? Was it the new guy that changed HP's investigative protocol or the director that hadn't done too much about leaks in the past? And why does the press have only Dunn and former director Tom Perkins arguing about HP's spying tactics? The executives really went at it as to whether or not they should use lie detectors, we're told. Did Hurd care about that? Did anyone else? Who thought hiring a hardened team of Philip Marlowe's would prove more genteel than being wired up to a non-HP lie device? It's pretty well accepted in Washington circles that when a scandal breaks, and you know you're busted, the smart person reveals all in one, big push rather than letting the muck dribble out one busted pustule at a time. HP has yet to receive the outline on how this PR tactic works. Instead, it chose to reveal Perkins' issues and the leaker problem about six months too late in an SEC statement. A couple days later we then discovered that HP - unlike any California company before it - spied on reporters. You can be sure that more details about this spy operation will leak out in the coming months as the California Attorney General's office and now the US Congress begin rooting through HP's trash. There's an outside chance that HP could end up with an accused felon or two on its board before year end, if it's not able to push all of the criminal concerns onto the companies it hired for the investigations. HP could also end up with a one-of-a-kind class action suit from nine rather pissed off reporters. We can't see how Hurd's promotion looks good under those or any circumstances. HP has been applauded for having a strong board, chock full of independent directors. But what a mess this group has created. In one week, the company has shattered a reputation that took decades to build. And it's the shreds of that reputation that HP is lucky to be able to hang onto now. Can you imagine the outrage if a Wal-Mart of Exxon had confessed to funding a spy operation that covered reporters at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal? Of course, HP continues to demand that it's acting in the best interest of shareholders, and in the short-term, that's correct. Promoting Hurd rather than punishing him will please investors who seem enamored with the CEO. That said, consolidating more power under one man who was present through this whole debacle and who has failed to reveal a hint of how he participated in or handled the mess is a disgrace. It's now fitting that Hewlett and Packard have been removed from HP's name. ®
The European Commission has published proposals for a law change that would force telecoms firms to notify regulators and customers of all breaches of their data security. A similar law in California has resulted in a stream of data breaches being made public. In a consultation on changes to the EU framework on telecoms regulation, the EC proposes that all providers of "electronic communications networks or services" be forced to notify customers and regulators of any breaches of security that would result in their personal data being made available to others. The current EU Directive only instructs network providers to notify customers of security risks. It does not cover security breaches. The current law in the UK follows the Directive closely via the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations of 2003. "Where...there remains a significant risk to the security of the public electronic communications service, the service provider shall inform the subscribers concerned of (a) the nature of that risk; (b) any appropriate measures that the subscriber may take to safeguard against that risk, and (c) the likely costs to the subscriber involved in the taking of such measures," says the Act. The consultation under which the new proposals are made runs until 27 October. If the Directive is changed as planned it could have serious effects on companies operating the networks covered. In California and the 33 US states which have since copied its groundbreaking notification laws, reports of security breaches have rocketed in number. Where companies may previously have not informed regulators and customers that a breach had taken place, the news of each breach now reaches vast audiences. A series of laptop thefts and losses from government and private bodies have exposed the data of millions of people to potential loss and misuse in the US. Some of that information may never have come to light without the notification law. "A requirement to notify security breaches would create an incentive for providers to invest in security but without micro-managing their security policies," says the working document accompanying the review process. "The proposed changes would require providers of electronic communications networks and services to notify the [regulator] of any breach of security that led to the loss of personal data and/or to interruptions in the continuity of service supply." "The regulator would have the possibility to inform the public if they considered that it was in the public interest," said the document. Service providers would also have to "notify their customers of any breach of security leading to the loss, modification or destruction of, or unauthorised access to, personal customer data," it said. The consultation was published on 28 June. OUT-LAW asked the UK's Office of the Information Commissioner yesterday if it plans to recommend a change to UK law that would apply the Californian model here. A spokesman responded: "We are not advocating any such change." See: The working document (37 page/193KB PDF) Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Microsoft has won what it described as the largest reported civil award against a spammer in Europe. The software giant says it won a court order requiring spammer Paul Fox to pay £45,000. Rather than pursue a case under Britain's limited anti-spam laws, Microsoft filed a complaint that Fox had breached the terms and conditions of its Hotmail service. It conditions state: "You may not use any [Microsoft] Services to send Spam. You also may not deliver Spam or cause Spam to be delivered to any of Microsoft's Services or customers." A Microsoft spokesperson said: "Under a Court Order, breach of which would be contempt of court and a criminal offence, Mr Fox agreed not to repeat his spamming against Microsoft or any ISP and to pay £45k ($83k) by way of damages and as a contribution to Microsoft's legal costs." Microsoft's case claimed that Fox was running a business via his spamming. "The beneficiary of the campaign was a pornographic video download site," said the spokesperson. "The victim would receive an email with a mobile phone number that they would text to receive access to the site. This is how the spammer was able to make money." Struan Robertson, editor of OUT-LAW.COM and a technology lawyer with Pinsent Masons, said Microsoft's action could be a better deterrent for British spammers than anything in the country's anti-spam law. An anti-spam law was introduced in 2003 in the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, but its powers are very limited. "The regulations generally don't stop spam being sent to work email addresses," said Robertson. "And anyone wanting to sue a spammer has to be sure that the spam originates in the UK. They also have to show damage and claim compensation for that damage – rather than claiming for the cost of dealing with all spam received in their inbox." Robertson added: "The Information Commissioner has very little power to deal with spam. The regulations require him to serve an order on a spammer, telling the spammer to comply with the law. Only if he breaches that order is there an offence – and even then, the maximum fine is only £5,000." The office of the Information Commissioner has recently said it is in discussion with the Department of Trade and Industry to increase its powers. To date the commissioner has never taken legal action against a spammer and there has only been one known private case under the regulations. Chartered engineer Nigel Roberts sued a Scottish marketing firm for sending him unsolicited email. Media Logistics (UK) Ltd did not defend the small claim action and paid Roberts £300. Microsoft's approach is not unique. In 1999, Virgin Net sued Adrian Paris in a spam case that, like Microsoft's case, was based on a breach of contract and claimed trespass. The ISP had been blacklisted by an email blocking system because of the spam coming from one of its addresses. It ultimately settled the case out of court. Microsoft tracked the progress of Fox's spam messages through its systems. "To evaluate the scale of the threat, on one day in April Microsoft sampled 20,000 of its 200m accounts and discovered 70 different Hotmail email accounts had been hit," the spokesperson said. "Some were hit with over 250 emails on the one day. It was therefore a very high volume spam campaign." Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
BSkyB has suspended its Sky by Broadband movie service until Microsoft patches a security loophole in its Windows DRM technology. A notice posted on the Sky Movies website reads: "In order to make an essential update to the Sky by Broadband security system, we are sorry that access to all movies and some sports content has been temporarily suspended." When asked by The Register to respond to Sky's service shutdown, senior product manager at Microsoft Marcus Mathias said: "As we did with the initial circumvention, Microsoft will use the built-in renewability features of Windows Media DRM to deploy an update to address this circumvention. We are working on a fix and have alerted our content provider customers. When ready, we will work with our content partners to deploy this solution." You what? Getting straight to the point rather than er, circumventing, Microsoft is working on yet another patch for its increasingly vulnerable DRM (digital rights management) software. The offending utility that has found its way around the DRM technology is called FreeUse4WM, which strips individual files of copy protection. This comes days after FreeUse4WM cracked a previous DRM patch released by Microsoft. DRM seems to be turning into a bit of a patchwork quilt. Anyone have a good sewing kit? Looks like Microsoft could do with it. ®
There'll be no more big updates for SAP's ERP software until 2010, as SAP entices customers and developers to adopt new products and initiatives for its NetWeaver SOA strategy. SAP product and technology group president Shai Agassi said Tuesday mySAP ERP 2005, launched in June, is the core of SAP's software and that this core would not be updated for another five years. SAP will instead introduce changes to the core - such as new functions and composite applications in vertical sectors - through Enhancement Packages released once every one or two quarters. Agassi, opening SAP's TechEd conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, promised developers, partners and customers that mySAP ERP 2005 "will now go on for a very long time". mySAP ERP 2005 is considered the first full implementation of SAP's NetWeaver strategy, which uses web services to turn SAP's traditionally monolithic and proprietary stack into a modular and open architecture that can be customized by business managers and extended by developers who'd otherwise not bother with SAP. NetWeaver has been SAP's vision since 2003 and the company has been embedding the necessary web services APIs into its software, turning it into a platform partners and customers can target for service oriented architectures (SOA). ERP is a critical element of NetWeaver so it's vital for SAP that customers and partners ditch legacy versions of SAP R/3 and even mySAP ERP 2004. That's a slow move though. According to Gartner, 500 of SAP's 30,000 customers had moved from R/3 to mySAP ERP 2004 by May this year. SAP on Tuesday claimed it has 107 live customers on mySAP ERP 2005 with a "much larger" number making a "licensing commitment" to move. Previously, SAP has encouraged customers to move by warning maintenance for R/3 would end in 2009. To facilitate the move this time, Agassi outlined existing SAP services and new tools to assist users. Laying it on the line, Agassi said: "2007 is the year you will build, release and consume all the information we have given you since 2003... [TechEd] is your time to raise your level, become a strategic value to your enterprise and a strategic asset for SAP." Agassi announced technologies and initiatives designed to establish support from developers and business managers for NetWeaver and mySAP ERP 2005. SAP Enterprise Search was released to developers for free trial to gain feedback ahead of commercial launch in 2007. Enterprise Search targets information workers, and is a meta search service that will root through structured and unstructured data and, SAP promised, non-SAP data sources through both SAP and non-SAP front ends. SAP is looking to developers to provide extensions. Also launched was SAP's business process expert community. The goal of this, SAP's third community effort, is to help partners and customers build business processes based on NetWeaver. SAP claimed 30,000 members consisting of business analysts, solutions consultants and process developers it says were referred during the last few months by the 500,000 developer members of SAP's Developer Network (SDN). Members of the business process expert community get support and resources from SAP, which expects to add a new group for each industrial segment each month - kicking off, SAP announced a consumer products knowledge centre. This latest effort joins SDN, enterprise services community launched in April and consisting of 100 members, and SAP's industry value networks forced on technology. Agassi also talked up the forthcoming SAP's NetWeaver Visual Composer, consisting of tools to build business processes that get delivered in software, and SAP Business Intelligence Accelerator, a software appliance built with Hewlett Packard to speed queries and to apparently minimize the need for a database. ®
The leak of an audio file containing embarrassing comments by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to news media has triggered a police probe. In the recording, the Governator refers to Hispanic Americans as "hot", with "black blood in them", the BBC reports. Cathy Calfo, campaign manager for Phil Angelides, Schwarzenegger's Democratic rival for governor, said staff on the campaign had downloaded the file from the net. She went on to claim the file was freely available from Schwarzenegger's website, playing down suggestions that Democrats had given the file directly to journalists. Schwarzenegger's legal adviser Andrea Lynn Hoch said the file was swiped from a password-protected area of the site. Schwarzenegger's staff have handed over computer records to police. In the pre-internet era, President Nixon recorded his comments for posterity and fear of being misquoted, a practice that backfired spectacularly when the tapes implicated him in the cover-up of the Watergate break-ins. In the tapes, the often uptight and conservative Nixon could be heard swearing and plotting against his numerous enemies, real and imagined. In excerpts from the tapes published by The Los Angeles Times, Schwarzenegger and his chief of staff discuss whether state Republican legislator Bonnie Garcia is either Cuban or Puerto Rican - a discussion that fails to reach a definite conclusion before Schwarzenegger offers the choice comment that: "They are all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it." Schwarzenegger has apologised for the remarks, which he said made him "cringe". Garcia, displaying admirable party loyalty, said she wasn't put out by the remarks, which emerged two months before state elections. Quite what need is served by recording Schwarzenegger's comments, let alone putting them online at all, remains unclear.®
European anti-virus specialist F-Secure is looking to service providers to help expand its presence in Asia with the official launch of a technology centre in Malaysia on Tuesday. The offices, in the country's capital Kuala Lumpur, include a security research centre and technical support operation. The company is in the process of recruiting staff to carry out product research and development work from Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur office will share the responsibility for providing security response services with F-Secure's Helsinki, Finland, headquarters in a move designed to strengthen the company's ability to deliver 24/7 protection against emerging new threats to its customers. Previously, F-Secure split this work between Helsinki and a smaller office in San Jose, California. Malaysia was selected as a key hub for the Finnish firm's Asian operations because of its pool of well-qualified workers, who commonly speak English. Cheaper labour and accommodation costs (around 30 per cent less) to neighbouring Singapore helped Malaysia emerge from a shortlist that also included the Philippines and Thailand. Malaysia's initiative to encourage high tech companies to set up business, and its strategically optimal time zone (six hours ahead of Helsinki) were also key factors in the decision. F-Secure president and chief executive Risto Siilasmaa said the company was expanding its position in Asia to cater for anticipated demand for security products that will accompany wider penetration of broadband and IT in coming years. Asia will account for 40 per cent of the worldwide broadband market in 2010, he said. "Security as a service will be preferred a licensing model. The consumer market will be serviced by ISPs and carriers. The enterprise market will be serviced by IT services companies, managed services firms and ISPs. "We selected Malaysia because of well-qualified human resource and a good cost infrastructure. Lots of countries in the region have a good infrastructure, but Malaysia has a supportive government too," he added. Malaysia is positioning itself as a gateway to South East Asia and a centre for outsourcing. The IT services sector has expanded to offer 37,000 jobs over recent years, helped by the creation of cyber-cities, principally in an area close to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The sector brings in $250m to the Malaysian economy and enjoys various tax breaks. The government wants to almost double its IT workforce to 60,000 within the next two years. ® Bootnote: The "F" in F-Secure doesn't actually signify anything. Representatives of the firm had a tough job explaining this to the Malaysian government at first, who thought it might possibly stand for something rude. Perish the thought.
SanDisk yesterday took the wraps off a 4GB Mini SD memory card based on the "high capacity" version of the technology. So far, card makers have prepared SDHC incarnations of regular-sized SD card, but this is the first we've seen to use the half-size form-factor.
The blueprint for the world's first Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to be held at the end of October in Athens has been thrashed out. The IGF's advisory group of governments, business, and civil society agreed at the end of last week to hold four main three hour sessions covering the broad subjects of openness, security, diversity, and access. Each session will consist of a panel of specialists and a moderator, with frequent questions taken from the floor and blog posts read out to the room. Translators will provide everything in English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, and Russian. Swiss diplomat Markus Kummer, the man in charge of organising the event, said the idea is to make the four day event "as interactive as possible". Between the main sessions a number of workshops will be held covering areas in which the internet is having a big impact, and a plaza will feature traditional conference stalls. The forum is a United Nations experiment and was devised in November last year at a World Summit when countries were unable to agree on who should run the internet and how. The result was a non-decision-making body that recognises civil society and business as equal partners alongside government. While critics have dismissed it as no more than a talking shop, the hope of IGF organisers is to provide a venue in which different countries and sectors of society can learn from one another's experiences. Seven hundred people have already signed up to attend the event and organisers expect at least 100 more to do so within the next month. The main concern, however, is how to attract the sort of internet notables and pioneers that will bring wider attention to what is discussed at the IGF. Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, co-creators of internet protocols TCP/IP, have both been invited, but it is not yet known who else is on the guest list. One problem is that because the forum is not part of the regular UN budget, because it is the first time the forum has been held (it is due to run for five years before being reviewed by the UN Secretary-General), and because it does not have the power to make binding decisions, there has been less funding than for normal UN meetings so the IGF is unable to pick up the travel costs of attendees. The hope is that by using the internet's own tools, including webcasts, digital recordings, and collaborative tools including blogs, the wider net community will not miss out on any of the events. For more information on the Internet Governance Forum, details, including pre-registration and reduced rates on hotels in Athens during the course of the conference, you can visit the IGF official website at www.intgovforum.org or the Greek IGF site at www.igfgreece2006.gr. ®
Intel will ship its anticipated low-end mobile Core 2 Duo T5200 dual-core processor next month, it has been claimed by Taiwanese notebook manufacturer moles. The part has not, apparently, been listed on recent Intel mobile roadmaps.
China has tested a software programme designed to "help decide prison sentences", Reuters reports. According to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, judges in Zichuan District Court in the city of Zibo, Shandong province, have for the last two years entered details of a crime into a computer which then delivers its verdict. Whether the judicial PC has the final say is, however, unclear as Reuters notes that "court rulings are often decided by 'trial committees' made up of judges and Communist Party officials". Nonetheless, the software's developer, Qin Ye, told the paper: "The software is aimed at ensuring standardised decisions on prison terms. Our programs set standard terms for any subtle distinctions in different cases of the same crime." Zichuan District Court chief judge, Wang Hongmei, added: "The software can avoid abuse of discretionary power of judges as a result of corruption or insufficient training." To date, more than 1,500 defendants have been sentenced by the programme, into which developers incorporated mainland Chinese criminal law encompassing around 100 crimes, including murder, rape, robbery and "state security offences". It will now be deployed in more Shangdong courts, the South China Morning Post notes. Some Chinese papers, however, have condemned the e-judge software as a further example of the "laziness of the court". They also doubted that it would do much to tackle corruption. ® Bootnote Sentencing by PC for "state security offences"? Dissidents beware the "blue screen of death", and no messing.
The news that RIM is launching a consumer/prosumer device called the "Pearl" (aka BlackBerry 8100) has got me all mixed up. As an industry analyst, I can see the logic of what our Canadian friends are doing – releasing a device that is more likely to appeal to the masses than the BlackBerry QUERTY classic and RIM's first attempt at the “candy stick” form factor, the 7100 series.
Mobile WorkshopMobile Workshop A few months ago, a Reg Reader study told us that sorting out the user authentication and identity management challenge was pretty high on the list of IT priorities, especially for larger organisations. From this study, we learned that two thirds of enterprises were suffering from a proliferation of sign-on mechanisms, with users having to juggle multiple logins across different applications and connectivity options. In order to deal with the fallout from this – password reset overhead on help desks, exposure from users writing passwords down on Post-its, etc – one in five had already invested significantly in the single sign-on (SSO) approach, with a further third following them down this route.
Netgear has finally begun shipping its anticipated Wi-Fi enabled wireless Skype handset to North American buyers and will be reaching consumers in Europe and Asia next month, the company said today. The handset, the SPH101, was originally expected to ship in June this year.
Mobile Top Level Domain (mTLD), the body which runs the .mobi domain, is looking for individuals and companies to participate in discussions about the emerging technology. .mobi domain names were created in November last year, and differ from the other top level domains (such as .com, .org and .gov) in that all the content should be formatted suitably for viewing on a mobile telephone. The .mobi Advisory Group (MAG) has been set up to focus arguments about what constitutes content suitable for mobile phones. For the last year the mTLD has been working on its "Switch On!" guide to creating content for the domain. According to the MAG website, the group is "the 'eyes and ears' of mTLD". "Through the MAG, mTLD can reach out to the mobile internet ecosystem, keep in touch with trends, and understand, assess and prioritise the needs of the entire mobile internet community. In turn, the MAG gives its members the opportunity to shape the future of internet services to mobile devices." Being the eyes and ears doesn't come cheap, with an individual who just wants to watch (Observer status) being asked for €295 a year. Companies who want to keep an eye on what's going on (Associate status) will need to fork out €1,995, while anyone who wants to be actively involved (Full status) is asked for a whopping €4,995. Lastly, but by no means least, there is Foundation level membership, a snip at €30,000 a year. Copyright owners have been able to register .mobi domains since 12 June, while the rest of the world waits until 26 September. The popularity of the domain remains to be seen. The fact that it takes nine key presses to enter "mobi" on most handsets (as opposed to seven for "com" and three for "wap") is supposed to be offset by handsets adopting it as the default domain. But with Nokia a sponsor, it bodes badly that its latest handsets do nothing of the kind. ®
A light round of applause is in order this morning for wags down at Grays Truck & Van of Guildford for injecting a bit of levity into white van sales. The company's website is a pretty bog-standard affair, but worth a visit for the content of its scrolling text marquee: You get the idea. Here's the full text: Test Drive the All New Ford Transit with it's new confident look and contemporary design (very dashing!), dash mounted gearshift (somewhere for the ladies to hang their handbags), ABS, EBD, BERK, MUPIT, & DONK now fitted as standard, super doooooper NEW and exciting Euro IV Common Rail Turbo Diesel engines (loads of smiles and loads of miles to the gallon), fab range of bright new colours (go on have a pink one, you know you want to, it will make a change from being a "white van man"), more standard equipment than ever before, (so you wont need) more factory options than ever before (so you can pimp your ride if you want), car like feel and quality (except its a great big van), class leading interior stowage area (think of the appeal it will have to all those asylum seekers trying to cadge a lift when you return from your next booze run to France), Call Fred or Steve on 01483 571012 to book your test drive and get a free entry to our fantabulous and fandabidozi prize draw for a (DavidDavid) sorry "TomTom" satellite navigation system (perfect for any berk who cannot read a map) - Only joking - it really is a great van - Ford - Feel the difference - opinions expressed in this text are not necessarily those of Grays Truck and Van Management all rights reserved, terms and conditions probably apply, your home is subject to repossession if you fail to keep up payments - Don’t tell my boss about this! Just buy a bloody van!!!! Good show. A pink Transit packed with continental lager and asylum seekers would indeed be "fandabidozi". ®
Microsoft has begun seeking manufacturing partners to make an internal HD DVD drive for a redesigned Xbox 360 console, whistle-blowers from among Taiwan's optical disk drive production community have claimed. And the software giant may be looking at incorporating disc-burning technology in the console.
Korean Air has become the latest airline to effectively ground notebooks from Apple and Dell. The carrier has banned travellers from bringing those companies' portable computers into aircraft cabins unless the laptops' batteries have been removed first.
ReviewReview There’s no place for loyalty and fond feelings in a serious reviewer’s armoury but based on their past few generations of hardware it’s difficult not to expect great things when Asus create a new motherboard then prime your salivary glands by hitching the word ‘Deluxe’ after the model number. With the buzz from Intel’s recent Core 2 Duo launch still resonating, we continue our mini-series of P965 powered motherboard reviews with the ASUS P5B Deluxe.
O2 has been rapped over the knuckles by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for a recent advert promoting its deal with Streetmap.co.uk. The ad features an animation of a chap unfurling a landscape, with a voiceover suggesting you will always know where you are going with free maps from O2 and (exclusively) streetmap.co.uk. However, the on-screen text states that the offer ends on 21 August. T-Mobile complained to the ASA that the service wasn't exclusive or free, and that the end date was misleading. The ASA upheld T-Mobile's complaint that the end date was misleading, as customers may have thought the service would be free forever - providing they signed up before 21 August. Interestingly, no customers complained about the advert, or had apparently been confused. It ruled in favour of O2, however, that the deal could be called "exclusive" as while any mobile internet user can log on to streetmap.co.uk, O2 customers got a special mobile version of the site. It also said the service could be labelled as "free" as users of O2's iMode service wouldn't have to pay for the data. On the basis of its ruling on the end date complaint, the ASA said O2 was never to show the advert again, though it seems unlikely the mobile company was going to anyway, as the offer has long expired. ®
Dell gets to keep pretending to be an enterprise storage player with a new extension of its deal to rebadge low-end EMC kit. The arrangement, which began in 2001, will now run until 2011. It's an important deal for both players - Dell accounted for about $360m of EMC's Q2 revenues, or around 14 per cent. Analyst house TBR reckons Dell will have been able to put the squeeze on EMC with the new contract, demanding a greater share of the Clariion margins. Dell's statement said: "From the outset, Dell and EMC implemented a unique model of sales, marketing, engineering, and manufacturing collaboration to leverage each other's strengths to deliver compelling value to customers." Dell would still presumably like to develop its own storage range, rather than just being an EMC reseller. With the bottom line dominating strategy at Dell right now, that plan looks to be on the backburner for a while. Dell is punting its tightness with EMC as a prime example of "Dell 2.0" - the plan the board has come up with to wrangle the firm back onto the growth curve. CEO Kevin Rollins told journalists: "The Dell experience is the number one priority of the company. It is where we are going to invest this year and for the long-term to provide the best customer experience, bar none." Responding to criticism of his chief exec, Michael Dell said: "If you want to blame somebody you can blame me too. "Our company will continue to grow and prosper and do well. Any press speculation on [ousting Rollins] is completely useless. It's not going to happen." Money saving tweaks to the supply chain are going to happen for Dell 2.0 though. The firm said it would be announcing a new factory in Western Europe soon. ®
Sky by Broadband (BSKyB) customers are a quiet bunch, according to a BSkyB spokesman. In fact, they're as silent as the Sky Movies website right now as it continues to display a statement about waiting for an "essential update" from its "industry partner" Microsoft. BSkyB is a "free" service exclusive to Sky digital customers who subscribe to Sky Movie channels one and two, and want access to movie classics and sports highlights via their broadband connection. But as we reported yesterday, a flaw in the Microsoft digital rights management (DRM) software which is supposed to protect movies from being copied has once again been cracked. BSkyB spokesman Phil Evans told The Register: "We know as much about it as you do right now." He also confirmed that there is no indication as to when Microsoft will provide an update to the software. The official BSkyB statement on the DRM software debacle, which will potentially affect media companies worldwide, reads: "We took this step as a precaution after Microsoft said it was working on an update to its Digital Rights Management software." It goes on a bit about how BSkyB values its customers, and that it has "pioneered legal downloads". It's not only your "flexible" movie friend, but apparently the success of the website proves its customers have an "appetite for such services". Well, they're going hungry at the moment. The statement goes on to apologise "for the inconvenience caused by this temporary interruption", but says it's being "responsible", playing it safe, and ensuring the service is used as intended, as a legitimate movie download website. It remains closed until Microsoft provides an update. So, right now, it's not so much Hollywood blockbusters as Hollywood busted. ®
VIA has begun shipping what it claims is the first ever carbon-neutral computer processor. It's balancing the reduced carbon emissions resulting from the use of its C7-D chip with carbon removal efforts such as reforestation and energy conservation programmes, the company said today.
The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that the controversial Big Brother golden ticket draw was not fixed, but upheld complaints that it was not properly conducted "under the supervision of an independent observer". As we previously reported, 100 golden tickets were hidden in special edition KitKat bars distributed around the UK. Thirty-four ticket holders eventually came forward, and were entered into a prize draw, eventually won by 43-year-old stripper Suzie Verrico, who allegedly already "knew she was going to enter the house before she was selected, supposedly at random". The tabloids then had a field day, with The Daily Star claiming Verrico declared to drinkers in a London pub: "Watch out for me, I'm going into the Big Brother house," - before she'd won the competition. The Sun weighed in with a report that Big Brother housemates "apparently rumbled the scam when the draw was made by machine in the house's garden". One contestant claimed that the winning ball "randomly selected" did not bear the number 14, corresponding to Verrico's ticket. Not so, says the ASA: "The ASA noted an independent observer from ERS [Electoral Reform Services] had signed a check-sheet to show 34 individually numbered balls (one for each Golden Ticket holder) were placed in the machine, and the slow motion footage of the draw showed there were numerous different numbered balls in the machine, and the ball drawn was undoubtedly number 14. "Although we noted the independent observer had left the Big Brother garden before the draw took place, the testimonials and props, combined with the slow motion footage, satisfied us that the draw had been conducted in accordance with the laws of chance." Channel 4 did, however, receive a light wrist slap on the matter of the independent observer. The ASA's ruling states: "We noted an independent observer was present as the balls entered the machine, but not in the period immediately before the draw or at the time the draw took place. "Because we considered that an independent observer should have been present and watching throughout the process of the draw and particularly at the point the winning ball was drawn, we concluded that the draw was not conducted under the supervision of an independent observer. "We investigated whether the promotion was conducted under the supervision of an independent observer. On this point, the promotion breached CAP Code clause 35.7 (Prize promotions)." As punishment for this misdemeanour, the promoters have been ordered "to ensure that future promotions were carried out in accordance with the Code". ®
Ofcom has slapped cap on mobile call termination fees, after deciding there is little chance of competition bringing the charges down naturally. UK comms regulator Ofcom has been controlling the amount that operators can charge for terminating calls ever since the initial investigation by Ofcom’s predecessor, Oftel, won an appeal against such control in 2003. Operators charge for calls coming into their networks, and without capping they would be at liberty to charge as much as they wished. The end-customer tends to blame their own operator for the high cost of the call, as that’s all they see on their bill. In June last year Ofcom extended their control for another year, capping Vodafone and O2 at 5.63 pence per minute, with T-Mobile and Orange being allowed to charge 6.31 pence due to the higher cost of their spectrum (1800MHz). The caps only applied to 2G services, and the operator 3 was exempted for that reason, as well as being too small to worry about. The latest proposal from Ofcom is that all termination charges should be capped at 5.3 pence per minute by 2011, when the regulator will look again at the whole situation. Responses to the proposal will be accepted until November 22, with the final regulation being published early in 2007. During 2007 Offcom will also be looking at the whole question of SMS termination fees, which it hasn’t looked at before. The SMS business is was worth £2.1bn in 2005, according to Ofcom, which is a lot of messages at an average of 6.3 pence per message. With the French regulator already imposing a cap on SMS termination, and Europe making noises about doing something, Ofcom needs to be looking at the issue. While competition has driven down prices for customers, regulation is still very necessary to keep the hidden costs of communications from getting out of hand.
Not for Samsung the simplicity of offering a phone with quad-band GSM support to allow the handset to be used all around the world. The South Korean giant today unveiled a device capable of connecting not only to GSM but also to CDMA and JCDMA networks.
IBM has finally, finally, started shipping computers based on the Cell architectured it co-developed with Sony and Toshiba. In fact, the company claims, a number of high profile clients such as the University of Manchester and the Fraunhofer Institute are already running the much ballyhooed devices. Big Blue’s first Cell Broadband Engine-based machine is the QS20, which is part of the firm’s BladeCenter family. According to IBM’s data sheets, the QS20 blade features two 3.2GHz BE processors, each of which contains a Power Processing Element (PPE) and eight Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). Each PPE is itself a PowerPC chip, with two-way hardware multithreading, 32Kb of level 1 instruction cache and 32Kb of level 1 data cache. Each SPE consists of a RISC chip with 128-bit SIMD capability and 256KB of local memory. The blade also carries a 40GB disk, 512KB of level 2 cache per processor, and dual gigabit Ethernet support. Given the architecture’s focus on high performance and graphics intensive applications, the vendor expects the technology will find its way into the medical industry, aerospace and defense, and oil and gas. It'll be interesting to see how quickly it moves beyond those markets. IBM neglected to say how much it will be charging for the QS20. Somehow we think that, for now, it'll be in the "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" zone. Update IBM has since been in touch to tell us that the starting price for a single QS20 will be a mere $18,995. So, still in the "if you have to ask..." category we think. Thanks to those readers who also sent us links to pricing on IBM's website.®
One of the men behind the Zotob worm was jailed yesterday by a Moroccan court, Agence France-Presse reports. Farid Essebar, aka "Diabl0", received two years for perpetrating the Zotob outrage which exploited a Microsoft Plug and Play vulnerability and attacked computer systems including those of CNN, ABC, the Financial Times and the New York Times back in August 2005. Fellow Moroccan Achraf Bahloul also got hit with a one year sentence by the court, although he was not directly involved in the Zotob outrage. Rather, he seems to have been caught up in the whole thing for employing Essebar's "Diabl0" alias while using pirated credit card data. Essebar and his alleged paymaster, Atilla Ekici, aka "Coder", were arrested just 12 days after the attack following an FBI dragnet. Ekici was cuffed in his native Turkey where he has been charged with financing the attack. The Zotob worm started spreading on 14 August 2005 and mainly affected systems running Windows 2000. Two days later it earned it keep with attacks on the aforementioned corporate systems. As we reported at the time, Zotob and later variants, were all based on versatile attack programs, known as "bot software". The Zotob worms compromised systems by sending data on port 445. If a computer was infected with the program, the worm created a file-transfer protocol (FTP) server and used it to upload the worm to other vulnerable systems. The worm showed its pedigree by retaining some bot functionality, Reg security guru John Leyden noted. Computers infected with the worm joined an internet relay chat (IRC) session at a predefined addresses. An attacker who knows the IRC channel password could command the bot to disconnect or reconnect to the IRC channel, obtain system information, clean itself from the system, modify security settings, and download or execute files. The worm, dubbed Botzor2005 by its creator, contained both Diabl0's and Coder's handles. The worm acknowledged Coder as well as it tried to connect to an IRC channel named diabl0.turkcoders.net. ®
Why take two speakers with you when you're out with your iPod when you can take four? That's audio-accessory maker QDOS' pitch for its Genesis 360° portable sound system.
The crew of Atlantis should be just about wrapping up the second of their three planned space walks. Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean and his American colleague Dan Burbank left the relative safety of the International Space Station at 9:05 this morning (GMT), to continue work on installing the station's P3/P4 truss with its 70m solar panel array. Burbank and MacLean removed 14 launch locks, NASA says, before starting work on the six launch restraints on the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ). This is the part that will let the arrays track the sun. Yesterday we reported that the first space walk team had dropped a few of the fixings they were working with. DIY gremlins are still troubling the crew, apparently intent on stealing small pieces of equipment. According to the NASA website: "About 7:10 am EDT, MacLean reported that one of the four bolts on the cover to SARJ launch lock 8 was missing. The bolt had been there when he removed the cover to access the lock. MacLean reported he did not see the bolt in the SARJ mechanism. The cover is secure with three of the four bolts in place." With that part of the work out of the way, the astronauts got busy getting ahead on tasks scheduled for the next space walk. This EVA mission was expected to last about six and a half hours, meaning the astronauts should be checking for any more lost nuts and bolts and heading for the space station as we write. The rest of the crew is hefting cargo between the space station and the Shuttle. ®
iSoft Plc, the beleaguered NHS software provider, has been given two large chunks of cash totalling close to £82m over the last two years, the government has admitted. An initial payment of £58m was made at the end of April 2005 with a further £23.8m paid out in April this year - just days before the company's financial year drew to a close. The government bail out helped Manchester-based iSoft secure a its position with the City despite its ongoing troubles, according to a report in The Guardian. Conservative MP Richard Bacon wrote to health secretary Patricia Hewitt on 9 August requesting details of any advance payments made to iSoft by NHS Connecting for Health. In a written response dated 5 September, Hewitt said: "The Department [of Health] agreed to make advance payments in April 2005 and April 2006 against the charges payable by NHS trusts to iSoft." She goes on to confirm that iSoft had paid back £37.9m by the end of July this year - leaving an outstanding deficit of £43.9m. "There has been no indication from iSoft that the advance payments made by the Department of Health (DoH) are the subject of the suspected accounting irregularities that the iSoft Board are investigating," Hewitt said. The "accounting irregularities" she refers to relate to an audit for 2004 and 2005, which the Financial Services Authority had been investigating. Hewitt also said that NHS Connecting for Health - acting on behalf of the DoH - has full financial audit rights to inspect iSoft's bank account at any time. In response, Bacon put the question to The Guardian: "What good reason could there possibly be for what looks like another giant free public subsidy to a failing company?" As one of the biggest IT projects in the world, iSoft will be looking to turn its bad fortune around, but the NHS may yet be the victim of its bad health. ®
NSFWNSFW A veteran Irish actress has become an overnight internet sensation after a message she allegedly left on her estranged hubby's answer machine inexplicably found its way into the public domain. Panto queen Adele King, aka "Twink", is evidently not a woman to be messed with - as ex David Agnew found out to his cost. According to The Times, 45-year-old oboe player Agnew had an affair with 29-year-old clarinetist Ruth Hickey, which put paid to the former's marriage with the 54-year-old King. Hickey later had Agnew's baby, which apparently prompted the now-legendary phone call. We cannot, for reasons of legality and simple public decency offer readers either the tape or a transcript of it, but net wags' reaction to the diatribe gives a pretty clear indication of the kind of language involved. For example, try "Twinksoft AbuseOS", courtesy of The Snackbox Diaries: Crikey. For the record, the balance of web opinion seems to be in favour of Twink in this matter. It's possible, of course, that the blogosphere is simply avoiding even the remotest possibility of getting a call from the battling pantomimestress. ®
Sun Microsystems has sold 2m UltraSPARC IIIs and isn't ready to quit hawking the chips just yet. Sun today refreshed the low-end of its SPARC server line with 1.5GHz versions of the UltraSPARC IIIi processor. That gives the new Sun Fire V215, V245 and V445 systems a modest performance boost over their predecessors that ran on 1.35GHz chips. Beyond the chips, the new systems also boast PCI-X and PCI Express for I/O rather than just PCI in the old gear. Once upon a time, Sun looked to slot the UltraSPARC IIIi+ processors into its low-end servers. In fact, it had planned to put the zippier chip into gear at the end of 2005. But here we are close to a year later, and Sun has scrapped the UltraSPARC III+ altogether in favor of putting money and effort behind the new UltraSPARC T1 line - aka Niagara. Sun's server chief John Fowler conceded that "more performance would be better" in the short-term for the low-end systems. Customers have complained to us about the lack of a real speed infusion. Fowler, however, thinks customers are looking for more than just horsepower these days. "I think the UltraSPARC III line has a really strong reputation with customers for being bulletproof," he said. "We get notes all the time about systems that have not been rebooted in five or seven years." He then added, "We see Niagara II giving the really big performance boost at the low end." So, happy waiting until next year, friends. The V215 starts at $4,000 with one of the 1.5GHz chips, 1GB of memory and one 73GB drive. The V245 starts at $4,600 with the same, basic configuration, and the V445 starts at $16,000 with two 1.59GHz chips, 4GB of memory and two 73GB drives. Sun has long depended on strong low-end SPARC server sales to help it battle against the likes of IBM and HP. Both of Sun's rivals have arguably done more to jazz up their low-end hardware in recent months, especially with the dual-core version of Itanium beginning its journey downstream. During an event today in New York, Sun rolled out a few more systems to complement the bread and butter SPARC gear. Sun has slotted the multi-core UltraSPARC T1 chip into its teclo-focused Netra server line. Customers can buy rack mount or ATCA versions of the servers powered by four-, six- and eight-core chips. The UltraSPARC T1 has proved a big hit for Sun thus far with the company selling more than $100m worth of systems. At Sun's event, some guru from MLB.com popped on stage to tout the wonders of Sun's new servers. MLB Advanced Media plans to run its web properties on the UltraSPARC T1-based gear, he said. Here's hoping the kit will improve the disaster that is MLB.com. Also on the hardware front, Sun shoved a 1.34GHz version of the UltraSPARC IIIi chip into its Ultra 25 workstation. The product starts at $2,895. Storage aficionados may be impressed with Sun's new "device-level tape encryption with key management" on the StorageTek T10000 tape drive and a fresh virtual tape library that runs Solaris 10. We won't pretend to be security gurus, so you'll have to put up with a bit of marketing speak. "The Sun StorageTek Crypto Key Management Station (KMS) provides a simple, secure solution for managing keys used to encrypt and decrypt data on the StorageTek T10000 tape drive. Comprising a Sun Ultra 20 Workstation-based appliance running the Solaris 10 OS and Key Management Software, the Sun StorageTek KMS allows customers to upgrade their environments seamlessly without requiring changes to the operating system, backup software or tape libraries. The solution utilizes AES-256 encryption and is designed for compliance with the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certification." It's seamless and simple. How can you go wrong? Cough. We're also told that the new StorageTek VTL Plus appliance, "delivers 2x the mean time between repair (MTBR) of most other VTLs, including those from EMC and IBM." The New York event stands as Sun's annual pilgrimage to Wall Street. The company has spent the last few years trying to warm the hearts of the financial services giants that made it rich during the boom and then shelved thousands of Sun's systems in favor of Linux during the bust. Sun's Wall Street pitch seems to have been working of late with its server sales and stock price rising again. The fun, however, could be short-lived. Sun, for example, has started hailing its hybrid server/storage box - the x4500 - as a "Web 2.0 server" just because some hippie book publisher thought that was a cool name. We suggest Sun start focusing on being the "revenue in server revenue" rather than the "flash in the pan in Web 2.0 fluff." You can catch the unnamed publisher and the rest of Sun's song and dance here. ®
Egenera - the blade server company created by Wall Street for Wall Street - has tapped a new CEO after chief Bob Dutkowsky ran off to run Tech Data. Current Egenera COO Mike Thompson will take on the roles of CEO and president, the company said. Meanwhile, Dutkowsky, a former IBM, EMC and JD Edwards exec, will head up computer products distributor Tech Data as of Oct. 1. Dutkowsky will remain Chairman of Egenera. "While making the decision to leave Egenera was a difficult one, I look forward to my new role at Tech Data," Dutkowsky said. "I have every confidence that Egenera will continue to grow and thrive under Mike Thompson's leadership and I look forward to my continued role with the Board." All in all, the departure seems amicable, and Egenera appears plenty stable. The company's founder Vern Brownell remains CTO. Egenera has proved to be the most successful blade server start-up, outlasting pioneer RLX. The company is packed with Wall Street IT pros and has enjoyed healthy investments from financial services firms and sales to the same firms. Egenera once planned an IPO but has since scrapped that idea. ®
Japan Canon is to recall up to 1.87 million personal copiers world-wide because they could produce smoke or catch fire. A faulty connection in the power cord of 11 different personal copier models has led to a costly recall, which is expected to set the Japanese manufacturer back an estimated 200 million yen ($1.71m).
eDonkey is off to the knackers' yard, after a New York court ruled that the peer-to-peer (P2P) site enabled users to swap copyright material illegally. eDonkey’s owner, New York-based MetaMachine, is ponying up $30m to settle a copyright suit brought by six record companies. MetaMachine has another P2P network, called Overnet, which the NY court also deems illegal. Metamachine's bosses, Sam Yagan and Jed McCaleb, have been told to stop users from file-swapping through eDonkey 2000 network. And there are still plenty of users around. According to this interesting walk through eDonkey's history, it is "generally accepted that eDonkey2000 has well over four million users at any given time". Rubbing salt into its own wound, MetaMachine has also turned over eDonkey's front page to RIAA copywriters, who have penned the following. The eDonkey2000 Network is no longer available. If you steal music or movies, you are breaking the law. Courts around the world -- including the United States Supreme Court -- have ruled that businesses and individuals can be prosecuted for illegal downloading. You are not anonymous when you illegally download copyrighted material. Your IP address is ********* and has been logged. Respect the music, download legally. Charming. Actually, you are anonymous when you download material - until the RIAA subpoenas your ISP, at any rate. So the lesson for determined freeloaders is to indulge in a little IP theft of your own - by tagging your IP address to someone else. For instance, offer PC lessons to an elderly neighbour, preferably very old and very deaf in return for some internet time. Plausible deniability, see? Freeloaders, to boot Today's ruling is a major victory for the record labels. Their mouthpiece, the RIAA, has in effect closed or castrated all the major file-sharing networks - with the exceptions of LimeWire and The Pirate Bay. Napster and Kazaa, the most successful "illegals", paid off the RIAA and are now unsuccessful legals. Grokster and WinMX are dead and buried, while BitTorrent made friends with the MPAA, before the MPAA made enemies with BitTorrent. The developers behind LimeWire, an open source project, will have their day in court soon enough. Last month, the RIAA filed suit against this P2P operator and today RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol namechecked its newest adversary in a eDonkey victory press statement: "Our settlement with eDonkey will make operations such as LimeWire that continue to break the law and profit off the back of stolen copyrighted content all the more conspicuous." The record labels accuse Mark Gorton and Greg Bildson of LimeWire LLC of exerting "substantial influence" over the software project and of various copyright infringements. At first sight, the charge of "substantial influence" seems eccentric, but this is designed to get at the personal assets of people supposedly protected by corporate limited liability. So far as copyright infringements are concerned, the precedents look poor for the LimeWire fellas. Of course, people will continue to swap music, games and films through unofficial channels, whatever happens to the P2P operators There is simply too much P2P software out there, and too many people willing to lend their servers to the DarkNet, for this to be stamped out. However, the RIAA and the MPAA will consider that they have won if they turn freeloading from an entertainment for the masses into an esoteric art of the furtive techie. ®
LettersLetters Poor old Apple. The Guardian newspaper suggests that after yesterdays' movie service launch, Steve Jobs needs "a charisma download". That's harsh - Apple did the most important thing it needed to do yesterday, and make its iPod cash cow a lot more attractive - with plenty of time before Christmas. But it's the movie deal that has brought out the faithful. Apple is "following a Buddhist philosophy: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," suggests reader Nik Heger. Actually, Nik, that was someone much more in keeping with Apple's corporate management style: Mao Tse-tung. [Or just about any dead Chinese prophet apparently - Ed] "The thing about iTV is - it fits the digital hub. Perfectly. The Mac is at the center, providing data," writes Oliver Brose. "Ewwwww I do loath reading your Apple stories; they always remind me of an angry old man ranting about the Germans and the war well after half the country's execs now drive BMWs," writes Julian Alex. Best not to start with such analogies to market share, sir, although I have done my best to raise it over the years, at great personal expense. "As usual, you're a complete tool when it comes to writing about Apple, and choose in true British tabloid 'red top' style to bask in the glory of the sound of your own voice, irrespective of whether you are missing the bigger picture or not. "Have fun watching your Betamax collection. Remember, technically it is superior to VHS after all. Bugger DVDs! New fangled nonsense." And enjoy those 75 Disney movies, Alex. You're not alone - here's a deliriously happy Apple punter: If Apple were to put the back catalogue of Disney movies and Walt Disney cartoons on iTunes - all the classic Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck shorts - it would be a helluva market, never mind the rest! Joe Gillespie Sorry, Oliver - the Mac isn't at the Center. The iTV will do what Microsoft's Media Center once did, and beam your photos, music and screensavers over to your HD-TV. And we know how well that fared. The "data" that matters - the stuff Hollywood guards very closely, because this is what the mass market pays a lot of money to get - is coming down your cable or satellite feed. Kaypro 10 and Osborne Executive owner Gabriele Bozi has a history lesson, and a welcome sanity check: Now onto some serious points. A good piece and, most of all, a welcomed rare mention of an ancient OS like CP/M, even properly spelled (can anyone ask more than this?). I only have to express my doubt about the fact that Apple saved the world from DR's command-line operative system since Apple's first attempt to introduce a visual metaphor on a computer happened to be the launch of Lisa in 1983; at that time CP/M was beginning to fight for his life against MS-DOS 2.0 (which introduced the revolutionary concept of directories!!). CP/M might have been killed already by his command-line sibling and by the diffusion of IBM clone computers. Indeed, during CP/M roaring ages, the Apple II sported a CP/M card from Microsoft (not to mention countless clones). It is my humble opinion that Apple might have succeeded to save us from the command line at a later stage but what came after is no better option. Apple is surely to blame for what computing has become today since they released at the time a superior product (based on somebody's else ideas) but they also allowed faulty derivatives to catch on thanks to short-sighted marketing vision and awful execution (incidentally bad execution created also a fetish cult about the platform). Maybe it is the fact that Apple has never developed in-house any of the concepts that characterised their product (they where great shopping around for new ideas but, to my knowledge, no seminal concept came from Apple itself), maybe it is the monstrous ego of their
GOD strikethrough> CEO but It seems to me that they struggle a lot now to find a way out of “point and click” past glories concentrating instead on adding a YARM (Yet Another Remote Control) in our living-room as your article suggests.
Unfortunately remote controls and Televisions have been already invented if I remind correctly.
It would be great if Apple, or another company, could one day introduce a new metaphor that would again change the rules and force those 21st century CP/Ms to move on or desist. We need this to avoid computing being relegated in the domestic appliances corner along dish machines.
Quite an old-school chap, he?
The remote control has indeed been invented - too many times and badly. If Apple could permit us to put the five we have in the bottom drawer, and replace it with one, I'd happily pay for another piece of Apple kit. That would mean controlling the HDMI ports.
Can Apple do a universal remote? Or will BabelBox hackers beat them to it?
Comments from your humble reader:
- Sure it's more expensive than a rental, but you are buying it. - Only first releases are the high price - but comparable to buying the box without the hassle. Older releases are 9.99, which seems to me a pretty reasonable price for owning a flick. - Surely prices will come down and studios will be added (info from a friend in the industry) - I believe the movies will play on Apples as well as PCs that have iTunes and Quicktime installed... no issues with hardware? But true they will only play on iPods (until someone hacks for other PMPs) - Inferior quality, perhaps, but you know as well as I that most people are satisfied with this sort of thing. - Downloads take 1/2 hour but you can start -watching- your flick one minute into the download (Quicktime's Fast start feature).
I was in France this morning and heard some stuff about Amazon beating Apple to the punch both in terms of timing and number of studios. I do, however, feel it will be difficult for studios to remain with Amazon when Apple with their iPod install base and 'caché' will be there for their distribution pleasure. I think it will be hard for them to ignore.. Maybe you could go down to L.A. and talk to them for an interesting piece on their ideas about digital distribution?
Remember as well: When ITMS first launched, the offering was paltry. When it revamped with the television offer, again - thin offer.. Both categories ramped up pretty quickly. I suspect we'll see the same now that the floodgates are opened.
On this article, however, my opinion differs from yours. "You say ....predicted that "the movie studios will play along, too". We now know they won't - or only their terms."
If you look at how Apple and the studios "worked things out" on the tv show side, Apple started out with a very limited offering. However, as it became clear that there was significant demand in the tv shows, more and more studios got on board. Today, all or most studios are on board.
Why should it be any different with iTunes? If Disney owned movies begin to sell at a rapid pace, it is a virtual guarantee that the movie studios will jump on board. And most likely, on Apple's terms.
With the mass popularity Apple is enjoying in the US, it is more than likely that the movie download service will begin to sell like hotcakes.
And what better incentive for consumers - and by extension, the network providers - to shell out for faster broadband connections than a new service they want? It is backwards to think that people first demand faster broadband before they demand a service that needs it.
Anyways, I've always enjoyed your writing.
Keep up the good work!
Perhaps Apple will manage what they did with TV shows (which are made by the same Hollywood companies as movies quite frequently)... It took two months (as their graphs showed) before they had more than 5 TV shows (and 1 network)... I'm sure Hollywood will be watching to see how successful it is - if its a big success then all it needs is for one more studio to jump on the bandwagon and they'll all jump. The showing of the iTV box was a sweetener for this - showing Hollywood that theres a bright light at the end of the tunnel...
Of course, it could be a big flop... I don't think the video quality is a big issue for many people - after all I know many people who spend much of their spare time watching terrible quality YouTube videos...
Angry fellow Paul Brown has a couple of good points, which he signals with " A few small FACTS for you"
1: Apple launched the TV service with 1 network and 5 shows. Less than a year later, 200 odd shows an 40 TV networks. The same thing will happen with the new movie service and you're a fool if you think otherwise.
2: Blockbuster Rentals are just that. You have to give it back when you have watched it. A purchased movie from iTunes is yours to keep and watch whenever you like.
3: DVDs (in NTSC format) are VGA resolution at standard 4:3 ratio. Yes the movies on iTunes are slightly inferior in quality, but if you're bitchin about a half hour wait time i can imagine you would be incandescant waiting for a full quality dvd rip to download from iTunes, or for that matter anywhere else...
4: As stated above i have an iPod that doesn't play video. Didn't stop me downloading a movie though. I also had no trouble playing said movie on my PC. Hardly "Apple's proprietary hardware" is it? Btw, Mr Windows fanboy, when was the last time you played a Microsoft DRM encoded "plays for sure" track on a Apple Mac? be sure to let us all know how you managed it, eh?
Apple's DRM is still DRM. But at least you can play any of it on any machine (Mac or PC) that runs iTunes. When the "iTV" comes out you will also be able to play it all on your TV. Streaming from either a Mac or a PC. So again, not really "Apple's proprietary hardware" as you try to make out.
And some not so good ones.
5: Show me a PC for $299 that comes with Windows Xp Media Center edition, Antivirus Software, Anti-Spyware software, large HD, lots of memory AND a graphics card and processor capable of showing HDTV resolution H264 video files that doesn't need a keyboard & mouse along with a huge remote to work it (not to mention keep it updated with the latest "security" patches) AND yet have half the usability factor of the little box that Steve talked a little about today...
Um, unless there's an embedded version of iTunes running in that there set-top box, Apple's project codenamed iTV, aka still needs a Mac...
Starting at $599...
And i'll show you a man who doesn't know what he's talking about.
Er, moving swiftly on...
Hope springs eternal. Keith McQueen is one of several (but not that many) to make the value case for VGA movie downloads"
Apple offers movie downloads in the range of US$9.99 to US$14.99. I suppose I don't really know what DVDs cost in the UK, but where I live, it is difficult to find a DVD for less than US$25.00. One may find used or less desirable titles for the Apple price but that is still the exception and not the rule.
Thanks, all. ®
A Nevada bulk email firm has been ordered to pay Earthlink $11m for spamming the ISP's customers. Earthlink won the judgment in a CAN-SPAM suit filed in a federal court in Atlanta against KSTM LLC. According to Earthlink, this business illegally sent millions of mortgage-touting emails and is now prohibited from: falsifying the "from" field in the e-mail address (spoofing) hiding the identity of the email sender (cloaking) selling e-mail addresses accessing or obtaining EarthLink accounts Time for a CANned quote from Larry Slovensky, Assistant General Counsel for EarthLink: "This judgment should be fair warning that if you spam, we will sue." Go get 'em, guys! Earthlink is perhaps the most active litigator against spammers, boasting that since 1996 it has won more than $200m in judgments and succeeded in getting two spammers sent to jail. Still, it has yet to dig up the back yard of the parents of a spammer, a first claimed last month by AOL, which was searching for buried gold. It is nice to see an ISP going that extra mile for spam victims, but AOL's difficulty in claiming the $12.8m owed by penis-pill king Davis Hawke - he is the owner of the supposed buried gold - shows that obtaining judgments and obtaining the money due from judgments are very different matters indeed. We suspect that Earthlink has collected much, much less than the headline $200m - bulk spammers are not exactly the personality types to squirrel away their ill-gotten gains into get-at-able cash and securities. ®
Digg founder Kevin Rose today urged Web 2.0 wannabes to avoid the temptation of adding "me too" features to their sites. Rose, whose news-ranking service is home to more than half a million registered users, told delegates at The Future of Web Apps Summit in San Francisco, that they should think before adding the increasingly ubiquitous tags to content, while reiterating his opposition to paying readers to rank stories. He also outlined upcoming changes at Digg, which should improve search, usability and integration with external sites. Sometime during the next two months, Digg will open up its APIs so people can Digg stories from within their own sites. Fresh from his recent front-cover appearance on BusinessWeek, Rose said Digg would not use tags - for now. "I see so many sites that just add features for adding features, without thinking about why they are adding them," he said, citing the example of a bank employee he had met on one conference panel who was mulling over tagging his bank's site. "People would say you [Digg] need to add tags - it doesn't make sense for our site. Part of the reason Digg works is you can drive people into a given topic. The moment you apply tags, you split the content up into strings that are too spaced out and difficult to dig into." In response to questions over the introduction of abuse controls on Digg - after it emerged a hardcore of frequent contributors had been helping to rig Diggs rankings - Rose said it was important to keep access equal and level. This, naturally, ruled out paying Diggers. "It's important to us there's no outside motivations for submitting content to the site," he said. "We don't want to discourage the people who aren't getting paid from submitting quality content." Digg is starting to face competition from other sites, such as AOL's NetScape. Jason Calcanis, the former WebLogs CEO-turned-AOL blog chief, is offering $1,000 a month for people's "social bookmarking" rights in his blog, a fact that - combined with Rose's appearance in BusinessWeek - fueled a case of blogosphere handbags at dawn. ®
It's looking less and less likely that HP will be able to fend off all of the legal issues around its spy scandal on the third parties it hired to investigate employees, directors, reporters and reporters' relatives. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in an interview that his office is now armed with enough evidence to go after both HP and its partners and could do so next week. The AG's office spokesman, however, provided a broader timeline in an interview today with El Reg. "The operative position from our office is that we are not confining ourselves to any timeline," spokesman Tom Dresslar said. "We will continue doing our job as long as it takes. It could happen next week; it could not happen next week." He added that the AG's office thinks it will file charges against HP staff over the spy scandal. It's likely that those involved will be charged with violating three statutes covering unauthorized access to computer data, wrongfully copying data and unauthorized access to personal information such as Social Security numbers. HP has confirmed that its team of hired investigators impersonated suspects in its spy probe to gain access to their phone records. So far, the news organizations tied to the spy probe have been reluctant to say whether or not they intend to pursue legal action against HP and its partners. The Wall Street Journal, for example, handed us a "no comment," while CNET issued the following statement. "CNET Networks takes this situation most seriously. These actions not only violated the privacy rights of our employee, but also the rights of all reporters to protect their confidential sources. We are continuing to gather all relevant facts and to analyze appropriate next steps. We have requested that HP provide us with a full accounting of all actions taken in connection with this matter." Rather surprisingly, given the nature of the beast, the names of the firms hired by HP to spy have remained secret. HP yesterday took the unusual step of addressing its mistakes by saying it will promote CEO Mark Hurd to Chairman come January. That'll teach him. HP now faces the very real possibility that members of its board will soon be accused of felonies. People found in violation of the statutes at hand face up to three years in prison. ®