19th > September > 2006 Archive

1

Open source software still growing up

When it comes to software, "quality" seems to be winning over "free" if Evans Data Corp's latest sampling of the development community's pulse is anything to go by.
Gavin Clarke, 19 Sep 2006

ATI RD600 to support three GPUs for science apps?

ATI's RD600 chipset for Intel processors will launch next month, it has been claimed. Whether motherboard makers will back the product now that ATI is on the verge of being subsumed into Intel competitor AMD remains to be seen.
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2006
fingers pointing at man

HP investigation went further than previously thought

Officials at Hewlett-Packard have been asked to testify to the House of Representatives which is investigating the company's media leak investigations. Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and General Counsel Ann Baskins have been asked to testify. The firm has already admitted to hiring private investigators who obtained phone records of board members and journalists without permission. It emerged at the weekend, though, that the action taken may have gone further and that one reporter may have been followed as part of the investigations. Leaked details of a secret internal investigation at HP suggest that the investigation was overseen by Dunn and two of the company's legal staff before it was handed to a network of private investigators. The investigation appears to have found that the illicit monitoring of phone records was a part of the operation from the start. As the crisis surrounding the world's second largest PC maker escalates it has emerged that the firm's own press spokesman, Michael Moeller, was the subject of call record monitoring. "Mark [Hurd, CEO] and Patty have personally apologised to me. I think it speaks volumes that I'm still doing my job," Moeller told reporters in the US. Dunn instigated the original hunt for the source of press leaks as early as January 2005 when information about the ousting of former chief executive Carly Fiorina emerged in press reports. Investigators were hired and the source of the leak was eventually identified. When it emerged at a board meeting in spring that phone records had been accessed without the knowledge or permission of directors, board member Tom Perkins resigned immediately. The source of the leaks was George Keyworth, who has now resigned from the board. The actions may lead to criminal charges against HP officials. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has said that he could decide as early as this week whether or not to press charges. He said last week that he had enough evidence to press criminal charges against those inside and outside the company. The internal investigation found, according to leaks, that legal opinion was sought at one stage about the action, but that the opinion was given by a firm that shared an address with one of the investigator firms hired to carry out the surveillance. The investigation is also said to have uncovered evidence that one of the reporters behind stories sourced from the leaks was followed by private detectives. Dawn Kawamoto of CNet News may have been followed in the course of the investigation, the internal report has found. It also said that detectives attempted to plant spy software on the computer of one of the nine journalists whose phone records were obtained. See also: OUT-LAW News, 12/09/2006 Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 19 Sep 2006

De Montfort mixes arts and science research cocktail

In a bid to encourage more collaboration between the Arts and Sciences, De Montfort University Leicester is launching a new research institute it says will "defy the traditional boundaries of computer science, digital arts and humanities". Howard Rheingold, something of an internet guru, will be opening a small curtain at the new Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT) tomorrow. The university bigwigs are stressing that while the IOCT is an academic institute, the business world is interested in what is going on there, too. Jerry Fishenden, Microsoft's national technology officer, added his comments to the press release, arguing that the IOCT is a blueprint for a new way of approaching R&D: "I find the arts/science divide both pointless and an artifice. It's refreshing to see this new Institute of Creative Technologies breaking down these artificial schisms and setting out an innovative plan to create breakthroughs in a whole host of areas by bringing together disciplines in new and exciting ways," he said. Howard Rheingold, who will be a visiting professor at the IOCT, will give a keynote address at the opening on "Cooperation and the Revival of the Commons". He is expected to liken the internet and the electromagnetic spectrum to so-called common land, that is, that these are resources that belong to us all. Other luminaries lined up to join the fun include computer scientist Steve Grand, and digital artist and author Chris Joseph. You can read more about the institute here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Sep 2006

Intel quad-core Core 2 Extreme to ship mid-November?

Intel's quad-core desktop processors will be branded Core 2 Quadro and Core 2 Extreme, Taiwanese motherboard maker moles have alleged. The chip giant's roadmaps have, in the past, indicated that the first quad-core desktop will be an Extreme-branded part.
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2006
12

Groping your way around the mobile device maze

Mobile WorkshopMobile Workshop As part of our series of articles on mobile email, this week we’re tackling the subject of the mobile devices themselves. As the actual user interface of a mobile email solution, as well as a potential replacement or substitute of (for some at least) a very personal item, a number of interesting discussion points are raised. We’d like to get your comments and later in the week we’ll do a wrap up and run a mini-survey to close.
David Perry, 19 Sep 2006

El Reg scuttled by anti-piracy blockade

There's a meeting of the film and music industry's anti-piracy captains in London today. The Fraud Advisory Panel's (FAP) conference has an interesting roster of speakers. There's Met anti-piracy DCI, the deputy director of technology for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the British Phonographic Industry's director of anti-piracy, a strategy advisor from the UK Film council, and others. Unfortunately for El Reg and our readers, we're not allowed in. The FPA said it had asked speakers if they minded journalists reporting what they said, and some did. They reckoned they'd have to change their speeches to take out various unspecified admissions of failures. The stated aims of the conference are to "identify common trends" in piracy, identify opportunities for industry collaboration, and...er..."raise awareness". So, anyone attending who is genuinely interested in raising awareness, or any pirates who can supply us with knock-off audio from the meeting, do get in touch. ® Bootnote As many readers will no doubt be aware, having been counting the days since last year, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. That's pirates of the "arr, shiver me timbers, pieces of eight, etc." flavour, rather than the equally enterprising "three DVDs a paaand" variety found at your local former-heart-of-the-community street market.
Christopher Williams, 19 Sep 2006
SGI logo hardware close-up

Beer trumps satellite comms on the Ionian Sea

BlogBlog Make your choice! What's more important - a cold beer, or a satellite communications system?
Guy Kewney, 19 Sep 2006

Toshiba recalls 340,000 Sony-made batteries

Toshiba has joined Dell and Apple, and asked its customers to send back their Sony-made laptop batteries currently sitting in Dynabook and Satellite machines. The notebook maker's recall extends to some 340,000 customers worldwide.
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2006

Nvidia hit with patent infringement lawsuit

Nvidia has been accused of patent infringement. Minneapolis-based Scanner Technologies claims it owns techniques that the GPU maker uses in the manufacture of ball grid array (BGA) chip-pin layouts without its permission. It said the alleged infringement was "willful and deliberate".
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2006

Intel readies low-voltage Core 2 Duos

Intel will ship its first Core 2 Duo-derived Celeron M budget notebook processors in Q1 2007, Taiwanese industry sources have claimed. At the same time, the chip giant will offer low-voltage versions of its current 'Merom' line-up, they say.
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2006

Royal Mail launches e-stamps service

The Royal Mail has launched an online service allowing customers to buy and print postage in the comfort of their own homes, Reuters reports. Payment can be made by prepay account, credit card or debit card and thereafter you simply print a "unique barcode" onto a label or envelope. Prices are the same as for normal stamps. Royal Mail's marketing director Alex Batchelor said: "We have launched this service in response to demands from the general public, who want to be able to buy and print their postage online. Online postage gives customers more choice and flexibility in the way they pay to send their mail." As well as e-stamps, customers can also print out "pre-populated customs forms" and similarly prepared certificates of posting, although in the latter case you'll still have to trudge down the post office to get it validated. ®
Lester Haines, 19 Sep 2006

O2 unwraps latest XDA smart phones in Germany

Carrier O2's German division has announced a pair of new XDA smart phones, both quad-band GSM/GPRS devices with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, and running Windows Mobile 5.0 on 200MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 850 processors.
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2006
For Sale sign detail

HP shrinks StorageWorks

HP's press office has taken a break from fending off journalists wanting to know why their phone records haven't been pretexted to trumpet some new small and medium enterprise (SME) storage kit. The lowest end of the All-in-One (AiO) range is aimed at real tiddlers; for your $5,000 you get 1TB of networked storage in four SATA bays. A six bay model runs to $9,000 for 3TB of SATA, or £9,250 for 876GB of SAS. That's a lot of records to be sure. The boxes interface with IP networks via iSCSI. They've gone for a "Fisher Price My First NAS approach", with built-in point-and-click GUI ties to Microsoft Exchange and SQL server. The platform also includes a full version of HP's StorageWorks Data Protector Express Software which HP says enables data back up and recovery from tape, virtual tape, optical or external disks. SMEs are pretty much spoilt for choice when it comes to getting into NAS. See our feature on the market for evidence of how every vendor reckons this is their ticket to further growth. The HP gear is available now, and the company says it will primarily be sold through channel partners. ®
Christopher Williams, 19 Sep 2006

Intel preps four-chip four-core Xeon Q4 debut

Intel will follow up Q4's quad-core Xeon DP debut with a low-voltage part in Q1 2007, it has emerged. The four-core server processors - codenamed 'Clovertown', will ship as the Xeon 53xx family, reports coming out of Asia claim.
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2006

Most 10-year-olds now packing mobiles

“A generation ago, an 11 or 12-year-old who lost their bus money would have used their own resources to sort it out - now they simply call their parents” The info comes from Carphone Warehouse's Mobile Life survey, based on interviews with over 16,500 people in the UK on how they use and perceive mobile communications. The plethora of information contained in the report is somewhat overwhelming, but Mobile Life also provides some analysis from industry luminaries including Dr. Pat Spungin from raisingkids.co.uk: With 51 per cent of 10-year-olds now in possession of a mobile phone, a figure which rises to 91 per cent for 12-year-olds, parents trying to hold out against the technology are at risk of socially excluding their offspring, while those who give in leave themselves with an umbilical connection which can be hard to break. Just over 80 per cent of parents are happy to track their children without their permission, but as Dr. Spungin points out: that’s only going to work once, and when the child finds out they are unlikely be amused. But it’s not all bad: 75 per cent of people, including youth, think it’s unreasonable to chat on the phone during a family dinner, and one in three dads need the children to help them use their handset, though we have to assume only when they’ve finished programming the video. As the children grow up the phone is central to their relationships, with over half making dates by phone, and the same number sending or receiving sexually explicit messages. Almost two thirds of under-25s have more than 50 numbers in their phone address book, but only 25 per cent of the same age group communicates with more than 10 people regularly, which makes you wonder what the other 40 are doing in there. Only 14 per cent of people turn off their phone during sex; the rest presumably too distracted at the time, and when it comes to the morning after 20 per cent of under-25s admit to ending a relationship by text message. The survey also found 14 per cent of those asked have more than one phone they use regularly, while 25 per cent of the under-24s are using those phones to keep in touch with someone they don’t want their partner to know about. But they should be careful: 5 per cent think it’s OK to track a partner using their phone; without permission. 5 per cent might seem a small number, but it means that one in 10 of you could find yourself being tracked without knowing it. Meanwhile 54 per cent of women are avoiding the whole relationship thing by using their mobiles to avoid talking to strangers, and 53 per cent of them feel safer if they are out and about with their mobile: hopefully not being mugged for the handset. Even the older generation is getting in on the act with over half of over-60s using text messaging daily, and around half of grandmothers believing mobile phones strengthen family bonds. For the interested the whole survey is available for download, along with the analysis and many more statistics.®
Bill Ray, 19 Sep 2006
1

Building websites with PHP-Nuke

Building a configurable, flexible and highly interactive community web site from scratch is no mean feat. Get the technical implementation right and you might have a vibrant and active community coalesce around your site. Get it wrong and you’re left with dead web real-estate that’s dressed right but is going nowhere. However, thanks to PHP-Nuke, most of the hard work has been done up front. And, for the would-be community site developer who doesn’t have the time to read manuals, Packt Publishing has even taken the hard work out of figuring what to do post-installation.
Dr Pan Pantziarka, 19 Sep 2006

CfH rejects computer failure claims

Connecting for Health (CfH) has hit back at claims that the NHS computer system has almost one "major incident" a day In a statement released on 19 September 2006, the organisation responsible for implementing the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) said the term "major incident" has been misconstrued. News reports said more than 110 major incidents have been reported by hospitals and GPs over the past four months. "The expression major incidents can be misinterpreted. CfH uses the terminology to describe incidents reported by users under categories of severity one and two," said CfH. "Very often they are not major incidents as such, but could be caused when a patient administration system is running slow or there may be problems with the local network. The severity level is attributed by the user and this is subsequently very often down graded or amended." Many of the incidents that have been reported by CfH include failure of the systems used by surgeons to see X-ray pictures on a computer screen in wards and operating theatres. On some occasions the system is believed to have crashed during an operation, forcing surgeons to suspend the procedure while a hard copy of the X-ray is found. Hospitals have also lost access to their patient administration systems, which hold records on appointments and planned treatments, so that they do not know who is due to have consultations or treatments. This article was originally published on
Kablenet, 19 Sep 2006

Gefen 4x4 HDMI Matrix audio-visual interconnect

ReviewReview Gefen has announced an HDMI four-by-four crossover unit. Though it can be used as a straightforward HDMI switch for linking multiple players to a single display, it's actually more advanced than that: any of the four inputs can be switched to any of the four outputs...
Steve Kennedy, 19 Sep 2006

Sony to take Apple's MacBook laptop head on

Sony has rolled out its latest Core Duo-based consumer-friendly notebook, a compact unit with a footprint the size of an A4 sheet of paper, a 15.4in widescreen display and more than a hint of the Apple MacBook about it.
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2006

MSI declares CrossFire on Intel P965 chipset 'first'

MSI has managed to get Intel's P965 chipset to support ATI's CrossFire, enabling the system on its P965 Platinum motherboard - an industry first, the company claimed today. So far, the multi-GPU technology has been limited to ATI's own chipsets and to Intel's 975X chipset.
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2006

Google News to appeal Belgian copyright decision

Google will challenge a Belgian court ruling against Google News, worried the judgement might set a precedent which could impinge on its role as a content aggregator and the online advertising sold on the back of it. As we reported yesterday, an action by Belgian newspapers demanded under national copyright law their content be removed unless Google sought their permission and agreed financial terms. Google is adamant that its news service does not infringe national or international copyright law. It says it will happily remove a source at its publisher's request. Google instigated this "you only had to ask" policy after French wire service AFP sued it in US courts last year. Since learning about the two-week-old Belgian judgement on Friday, Google has removed the offending feeds from the nascent operation. A Google statement on the case, which was brought by publisher Copiepress, said: "We believe that this case was entirely unnecessary. There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs." Google lawyers will now appeal against the legal logic behind Copiepress' victory. They will argue Google News does not infringe copyright law as it uses only introductions to articles, in a similar way to how newspapers may quote from a book. The company statement continued: "It is important to remember that we never show more than the headlines and a few snippets of text. If people want to read the entire story they have to click through to the newspapers' website." Google has always pleaded its aggregator provides news media with more web traffic. The ad broker seems increasingly affronted at continuing ingratitude from continental types. ®
Christopher Williams, 19 Sep 2006
homeless man with sign

10Gig Fibre Channel is dead, says Emulex

Attempts to converge data networking and storage networking on a single 10Gig physical base have failed, according to a veep at at SAN technology supplier Emulex. Mike Smith, executive veep of worldwide marketing, was speaking as Emulex announced its latest forays into SAN virtualisation, adding support for Cisco VSAN (virtual SAN) fabrics within its LightPulse host bus adapter (HBA) range, and finally moving its Aarohi-derived AV150 storage processor, which can add intelligence to a SAN switch, out of beta and into production. Smith noted that Emulex's purchase of Aarohi back in April also bought it 10Gig networking technology, which it plans to use to break into the emerging market for converged data and storage networks based on Ethernet. He said though that this doesn't extend to SANs, despite attempts by the standards bodies to make 10Gig Ethernet and 10Gig Fibre Channel physically compatible. Instead, the SAN vendors, flushed by the success of 2Gig and 4Gig Fibre Channel, plan to double and redouble that technology - which is ultimately based on an old fibre networking spec called FDDI. "The industry has coalesced around 8Gig Fibre Channel as the next standard," he said. "10Gig is still there for inter-switch links, but it won't exist as an end-point because it's not compatible with 4Gig. I think it's a dead-end. "We have 8Gig prototypes and test silicon already rolling out, the trick will be to manufacture it in volume. Then 16Gig may be along by 2015." The key, he said, is that Fibre Channel is out there already and widely used, leaving technologies such as Ethernet SANs in the unenviable position of trying to displace an entrenched incumbent. Meanwhile, 2Gig Fibre Channel is backwards-compatible with 1Gig, 4Gig with 2Gig and so on. "One thing we've learned is that enterprise customers are very conservative, and when they deploy an infrastructure they're in it for the long term. Whether the transition is 4Gig to 8Gig, or Fibre Channel to 10Gig Ethernet, it takes many years and they will overlap for a long time." One thing that will come in sooner is SAN virtualisation, Smith claimed. He said that at the moment, virtual machines attached to a SAN are not properly decoupled from their storage because all the servers on a physical machine share the same HBA. "Application portability is really only possible if the storage is truly decoupled from the servers," he said. "But if you have a virtualised server running multiple applications, and connected to the SAN then all its apps are in the same zone and can see all the attached LUNs (volumes). That's a concern for managers who like to have dedicated storage. The hypervisor provides some tools but they operate at the server level, not the storage level. "So we have developed virtual HBA technology - you have unique SAN IDs right up to the application layer, so each application can be zoned independently. We're working specifically with Cisco's VSAN, but it's all within industry standards." As for the AV150, its first big customer was McData, which used it to build a storage virtualisation blade for its directors, but McData is now to merge into rival Brocade. Smith said he believed the McData relationship would continue, but added that the AV150 could also be used to add virtualisation to SAN appliances. He noted that software developers such as FalconStor, Kashya and StoreAge have said they will port their SAN virtualisation applications to the AV150, as it means they no longer need to run on a separate server within the SAN.®
Bryan Betts, 19 Sep 2006

Moto buys Symbol Tech

Motorola is acquiring industrial mobile-device specialist Symbol in a cash deal worth almost $4bn.
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Sep 2006

Satellite broadband users left high and dry again?

Users of the Ouranous satellite broadband service found themselves cut off last Wednesday without explanation or warning. Ouranous took on many of Aramiska’s customers when that company unplugged itself in January. Though the details of Aramiska's withdrawal of service remain unclear, at least they were able to give subscribers a few hours warning while Ouranous appears to have simply cut everyone off. The official line from Belgium-based Ouranous is "technical difficulties", and they have stated that they are hoping to re-enable the system later today, but after five days of zero connectivity there is speculation that a change of ownership is on the cards, or an attempt to raise capital. Certainly Bridge Broadband Services has been quick to step in and offer an alternative service to those willing to replace their equipment. The problem facing Ouranous, and any other satellite provider, is that ADSL coverage in the UK is so good that it is almost impossible to sustain a sufficient customer base to make it economic. The fact that many of the latest internet applications such as VoIP and video conferencing don’t work over satellite, because of the latency in getting signal to and from orbit, also discourages usage. The success of ADSL is equally a problem for WiMAX deployments, which have failed to find any success in rural areas and are now focusing on providing a backup channel and flexible bandwidth for urban companies. Ouranous were unavailable for comment.®
Bill Ray, 19 Sep 2006
channel

Compel takes solutions to new heights

Compel has increased the "value-quotient" of its solutions as part of a strategy to do more high-margin business.
Mark Ballard, 19 Sep 2006

Space, Segways and biostratification

LettersLetters eDonkey got its, er, ass kicked in the New York courts last week. And the RIAA owns its front page. And any visitor's IP addresses, it reckons. So, what to do, for the determined downloader?
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Sep 2006
fingers pointing at man

MX-Sweep creates new jobs in Trim

Irish e-security firm MX-Sweep is to create 10 new jobs as it positions itself to expand in both the Irish and international markets. The firm, which has its offices in Britain, has decided to open a European sales headquarters in Trim, Co. Meath. MX-Sweep currently employs four staff primarily in executive roles. This latest recruitment drive will see it adding 10 sales and administration staff to its ranks as it bids to boost its domestic and international sales. Announcing the decision, MX-Sweep chief executive Declan O'Connor said the firm chose Trim after an extensive search. "We looked at the infrastructure, the access, and the facilities in the area and concluded that Trim was the ideal location for us. From here we can readily serve our growing international customer base which spans across the UK, Europe, Canada, and the USA." MX-Sweep's solutions focus on e-mail security, specifically intercepting spam - including infected or fraudulent mail - before it reaches a company's network. The firm says it differs from its competitors in that it offers corporate level solutions at affordable prices; the firm works on a pay-as-you-go system with no need for additional hardware or software to be installed. MX-Sweep claims to be Ireland's only indigenous developer of these type of security products. The issue of spam and fraudulent mails has never been more topical, particularly in light of the recent phishing scam that managed to trick a number of Bank of Ireland customers into parting with EUR160,000. O'Connor says that as much as 70 percent of e-mail arriving in companies' inboxes is unsolicited, a phenomenon that has led to increasing numbers of business owners taking the threat more seriously by deploying mail filtering solutions. ® Copyright © 2006, ENN
ElectricNews.net, 19 Sep 2006

Information Commissioner rules Ofcom must share data

Comms regulator Ofcom is squaring up against fellow regulatocrats at the Information Commissioner's Office over just how much Britons should be allowed to know about their local cell phone base stations. Sitefinder is a utility which enables concerned British locals to find out what cell phone base stations are nearby, and which companies run them as well as their frequencies and maximum output. Anyone is welcome to come along and have a peek to see where cells are located, but if you wanted a list of all the cells with their longitude and latitude, perhaps for your latest Google Earth mashup, then you would have been out of luck. Ofcom, which holds the data, felt there were national security implications, as well as public safety and intellectual property rights issues, in providing a searchable database of locations and capabilities. It is imaginable that a terrorist might target a cellular base station, though the impact would be unlikely to justify the risk, but the impacts on public safety and intellectual properly rights are harder to fathom. So, quite reasonably, the Information Commissioner has ruled that as the information is already freely available such arguments are – to coin a phrase - baseless. Ofcom has 35 days to appeal, though it is hard to see where they would find grounds.®
Bill Ray, 19 Sep 2006

Astronomers ID earliest recorded supernova

Astronomers think they have identified the remains of the first ever supernova recorded by people on Earth. The remnant, RCW 86, was thought to be around 10,000 years old, but new data is forcing the stargazing community to revise this figure quite considerably downwards. They now believe it is around 2,000 years old, and that it could be the remains of the supernova recorded in 185 AD by Chinese astronomers. The Chinese noted that it sparkled like a star and did not appear to move in the sky, arguing against it being a comet. Also, the observers noticed that the star took about eight months to fade, consistent with modern observations of supernovas. "There have been previous suggestions that RCW 86 is the remains of the supernova from 185 AD," said Jacco Vink of University of Utrecht, and lead author of the study. "These new X-ray data greatly strengthen the case." The data comes from the European Space Agency's XMM Newton and Chandra orbital observatories. The researchers worked out the age of the remnant by studying how fast the outer layers of material were moving away from the centre of the explosion. They tracked one section of the shell to work out an expansion velocity. In combination information about the size of the remnant and a basic understanding of how supernovas expand they were able to estimate how long since the star had gone boom. The expansion velocity was much faster than previous studies of the remnant had indicated, and the team says this is likely due to the nature of the space it is expanding into. Before the star exploded, it would have sent out a massive shock wave, effectively creating a bubble of stellar wind in the area around the star. Some of the exploded material is still within this irregularly shaped area, but some has hit denser material beyond it and slowed down. The faster moving material in the bubble gives a better indication of the supernova's age, and it is this material the team has now measured. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Sep 2006

EU denies Vista vendetta

The European Commission has hit back at suggestions it has got it in for Microsoft over security features built into the heavily-delayed Windows Vista. In a letter to the Financial Times, competition commissioner Neelie Kroes protested: "I have seen it suggested that the Commission may seek to prevent Microsoft from improving the security of its operating system. This is categorically not the case. "We do nevertheless seek to ensure that rival security software vendors...are able to compete on a level playing field." It has been reported that sources within Microsoft are briefing that Dutchwoman Kroes is taking the dispute personally. Kroes also rubbished an attempt by Redmond last week to link the anti-trust investigation to a study it sponsored trumpeting Windows' contribution to the EU economy. "It would be wrong to imagine such a link," she wrote. "If jobs are created as a result of Vista's release, any such job creation would only be enhanced with the release of a version of Vista which allowed others to compete on the merits of their products." Microsoft has also said it may have to delay the European release of Vista if it is forced to alter the security features. Given the OS' release date has already proven slippier than a greased hog, we doubt such PR posturing will bother the gravy train in Brussels. ®
Christopher Williams, 19 Sep 2006

KPN scoops up Tiscali's Dutch biz for €255m

Tiscali has sold its Netherlands subsidiary to KPN for €255m. KPN gains 200,000 broadband and 126,000 dial-up subscribers, taking its ISP market share in the Netherlands to 45 per cent, Ovum analyst Dan Bieler estimates. Perhaps surprisingly, competition authorities have nodded through the deal. Bieler says the acquisition will help KPN build its triple play (bundling VoIP, broadband and cable television/video-on-demand) service. "At an implied value of about €630 per subscriber (or an ARPU of €53)", he notes: "KPN has plans that go beyond the provision of plain vanilla Internet access - and beyond synergies from the integration of Tiscali's infrastructure. Its own TV offering had attracted 230,000 subscribers by Q2 2006 and its IPTV offering Mine is gaining momentum." Tiscali said its Dutch operation was one of the most successful in the group, but the disposal will enable it to focus on "markets with the highest potential for value creation". ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Sep 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Business Objects buys ALG

CommentComment Business Objects is buying ALG, which may be better known to some readers as Armstrong-Laing (I never quite understood the rationale behind changing the name, especially as ALG was likely to be confused with ASG but that's another story). Anyway, ALG is one of the leaders in the market for activity-based costing (ABC) and management (ABM). Indeed, it was probably the leading pure play vendor in this field. So, does this acquisition make sense from Business Objects point of view? In my view this is clear cut. The company wants to further extend its penetration of the enterprise/business/corporate performance management space, which it entered with its acquisition of SRC last year, and it sees the addition of ABC/ABM as complementary technology that will help the company to push deeper into this market. Of course, there will be some integration to do but after the exemplary manner in which Business Objects achieved the integration of Crystal, I am sanguine about its capabilities with respect to ALG and SRC. So, I think this is a very sensible move and puts Business Objects one up on Cognos, which is reliant on partners for this sort of functionality. However, just because I think this, it doesn't mean that everybody does. In particular, Cartesis seems to be very upset about it. Now, regular readers will know that one of the things I abhor most about vendors is when they make adverse comments about their competitors (particularly when I don't agree with them anyway). Moreover, I have written about this on more than one occasion. So you can imagine my surprise at receiving a debunking email from Cartesis's PR agency that attacked this acquisition, stating that it didn't understand Business Objects' strategy and couldn't understand what Business Objects could possibly want with ALG. In effect, the email suggested that Business Objects should stick to the BI stuff (for which Cartesis conceded that it held Business Objects in high regard) that it's most well known for and leave performance management to the likes of Cartesis who know what they are doing. Let's spell this out simply: if Cartesis is right then Business Objects has just blown a load of money and the company won't get any leverage out of the acquisition. In which case, that must be good for Cartesis. This, of course, suggests that Cartesis should applaud its rival's desire to waste money and it should therefore put out a congratulatory email to encourage Business Objects to pursue further fantasies that can only damage Business Objects' reputation while, by comparison, enhancing that of Cartesis. But has Cartesis followed this line of logic? No. So what can we conclude? Actually, that this purchase scares Cartesis; that it doesn't like it; that it sees it as a threat. Which means that they are plain daft to draw attention to that fact. Of course, they may be able to pull the wool over some people's eyes but if they want to try this sort of stunt again in the future then they would do better to qualify me out. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com
Philip Howard, 19 Sep 2006

Terrorism no excuse for privacy breaches, says EU regulator

Terrorism and organised crime should not be used as excuses for passing laws which undermine people's privacy and data protection rights, according to the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). Existing laws do not need changed, he said. In an update on data protection in Europe, EDPS Peter Hustinx said that security concerns were not an adequate reason to undermine data protection principles. "It is a misconception that protection of privacy and personal data holds back the fight against terrorism and organised crime," said Hustinx. "Current legislation does allow, for instance, law enforcement to check suspicious phone numbers found in a computer." The EDPS has recently advised EU bodies on controversial issues of data protection such as the disputed transfer of airline passenger data to the US, telecoms data retention and EU information technology systems. New laws and practices are being introduced in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in the US, Madrid and London which put security concerns and data protection in direct conflict. An EU deal cut with authorities in the US to transfer airline passenger data was opposed by the EU Parliament and struck down by the European Court of Justice on procedural grounds. Other legislation causing controversy are the laws introduced by member states to comply with the Data Retention Directive. The Directive calls for telephone, email and internet data to be kept for up to two years by telecoms firms and is being opposed by civil rights groups. One group, Digital Rights Ireland, is taking the Irish government to court over the Irish law based on the Directive and hopes to overturn the Directive itself. The Irish state is also taking a legal challenge against the Directive, but on procedural, not privacy, grounds. Hustinx said that the idea that a state must choose either good security or good data protection is flawed. "Good data protection actually goes hand in hand with legitimate crime fighting because it increases the quality of databases and at the same time makes sure that only the right people can access them," he said. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 19 Sep 2006

Microsoft enters 'Soapbox' derby

In the US a soapbox derby is a go-kart race, and with Microsoft's launch of its Soapbox video service it's certainly racing to catch up with YouTube. Microsoft has launched a beta version of Soapbox on the MSN Video service which allows internet users to upload and share homemade films. Aside from far and away market leaders YouTube and Google Video, Microsoft is a late entrant in a race that already features competitors such as AOL and MySpace. Like existing services, Soapbox will allow users to upload digital videos onto the service regardless of format, and categorise them to create a searchable database of moving images. This is slightly different from the YouTube service in that Soapbox users can watch clips and search for new ones in the same browser window. The beta of Soapbox on MSN Video (previously codenamed "Warhol") is available on an invitation-only basis in the US. Access to the beta will expand over time by enabling existing beta testers to invite some friends onto the service which is supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or later, running on Windows XP, and Firefox 1.0.5 or later versions running on Windows XP or Macintosh OS X. Microsoft is relatively late in delving into the explosively successful online video space, but it already has a large online community, which may work out to be a strong advantage. The millions who use MSN, the Hotmail email service, Live Spaces blog community, and Microsoft's Yahoo!-compatible instant messenger service may be a natural market to tap for Soapbox newbies. At this early beta stage, it's yet to be seen how Microsoft plans to create revenue from its new Soapbox service. Copyright © 2006, ENN
ElectricNews.net, 19 Sep 2006
globalisation

Microsoft sets attack dogs on 20 'illegal' dealers

Microsoft today revealed lawsuits in nine US states against 20 resellers accused of selling counterfeit software or engaging in hard-disk loading.
Drew Cullen, 19 Sep 2006
channel

New technology is scary, says Cisco CTO

New technology such as Windows Vista and IP v6 may solve some security problems but will bring new security threats as well, according to a senior Cisco security expert. "When we deploy new technologies, what's scary is we never know what problems they might bring," said Bob Gleichauf, the CTO of Cisco's security technology group, who spoke at this week's Gartner Security Summit in London. "For every action, there is a reaction and unforeseen side-effects. Even new regulations bring side-effects that we need to be aware of," he continued. Gleichauf rebutted reports that he had singled out Windows Vista for criticism. "It's not just Vista," he said. "Microsoft has done an incredible job with Vista." And he added that while it is always a problem building for vulnerabilities that you're not yet aware of, it can be attempted by deploying what he called 'compensating technologies' - Cisco's concept of defence in depth. "You have to understand the business and the types of transactions, and configure many different components to work together," he said. "You have to be prepared for the unknown that may come with new technology." ®
Bryan Betts, 19 Sep 2006

Q3 doubts torpedo Yahoo! shares

A little excitement in the US markets today, what with a military coup in Thailand and Yahoo! sharing its concern over advertising revenues in Q3. Sue Decker, Yahoo!s chief financial officer (CFO), today noted a slowdown in the growth (our emphasis) of auto and financial advertising, Reuters reports. Upshot: Q3 revenues will be at the bottom of the $1.115bn - $1.225bn range indicated by the company in its July earnings statement Speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference, Decker said the advertising slowdown was a "new trend. It's been two to three weeks and we don't know yet if it's an indicator of a broader slowdown." So it's "watch and wait" for Yahoo!, but not for equities traders, who sent its shares plummeting 13 per cent. Decker's musings had a knock-on effect on other internet majors, with Google, Amazon and eBay shares all falling today. ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Sep 2006

Pre-AMD, ATI preps novel server charge

Even before its merger with AMD closes, ATI plans to charge the server market with a new type of graphics product that could shake up the high performance computing scene. Advocates of ATI's technology say it could create a lucrative new revenue stream for the company and add some weight to the ATI/AMD marriage.
Ashlee Vance, 19 Sep 2006

Sprint dons Mobile Armor for security gig

Sprint claims it is the first US cellco to deliver end-to-end wireless security for enterprise customers. The boast was made today on the back of a white-label deal with Mobile Armor, of St. Louis, which is powering the cellco's new Sprint Mobile Security service. This packages encryption and authentication services for laptops and wireless handhelds, and a delete data function to zap stolen devices. Enterprise spoilsports can dictate what applications their workers can download, at the same time ensuring that they meet those pesky compliance obligations. Last but not least, sysadmins get to play with a web portal through which they control the "mobile workforce assets" - this sounds very BOFH-like to us. Wireless security is a bugbear of enterprises, but few practise what they preach, as this survey (pdf) of Reg readers, conducted this year, shows. So perhaps, all you mobile warriors are safe for a little while longer from being turned into "mobile workforce assets". Unless your employers are Sprint customers, of course. ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Sep 2006