21st > September > 2006 Archive

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Allchin peers into crystal ball, sees Windows Vista future

Jim Allchin, Microsoft's outgoing Windows chief, has issued a rallying call to developers to Windows Vista, in an open letter emphasizing industry support for the delayed operating system. Allchin proclaimed "tremendous" opportunities await for those moving to its latest version of Windows. Developers whose applications are not Windows Vista-ready risk getting left behind by a wave of popular support after January's launch, he said. "Ready" in Allchin's book means applications that are capable of working with Windows Vista's user access control, network stack and XML-based graphics model. All this despite "tremendous" (that word, again) investments by Microsoft in Windows Vista's backwards compatibility, he said. So never mind the delays and the facts that Windows XP and Windows 2000 power 38 per cent and 48 per cent of PCs and that Gartner the analyst firm does not expect Windows Vista to significantly impact sales of PCs in 2007. What opportunities await the company? According to Allchin: 200 million people will be using Windows Vista in the first 24 months after it ships. To put this in context, Gartner forecasts 230 million PCs to ship worldwide in 2007 while a Microsoft-sponsored IDC report estimates that Vista will run on 100 million PCs in its first year. Allchin also claims 1,000 companies are members of its early adopter program. According to Microsoft's co president for platforms and services some of the applications being built for Windows Vista are "mind-boggling cool. And, some of the best work is being done by small companies that many of you probably haven't heard of, so the opportunities for changing the world are clear." Allchin's call to arms is here. This is familiar territory for Allchin, who was cheerleader five years ago Microsoft's last new desktop operating system, Windows XP, as sales of PCs declined in 2001. Allchin predicted Windows XP would spur demand for PCs and reflate the entire industry in 2002. IDC put a downer on his predictions. In a foreshadowing of Gartner’s comments on Windows Vista, IDC did not expect Windows XP to fuel a PC sales boom. As it happened, unit shipments increased 2.7 per cent for the year to closed at 132.4 million units according to Gartner's Dataquest number-crunching bods. ®
Gavin Clarke, 21 Sep 2006

ATI driver update confirms CrossFire for Intel P965 chipset

ATI has posted the latest incarnation of its Catalyst driver package for Windows and Linux, and with it official confirmation that CrossFire now works on Intel's P965 chipset - for Windows systems at least.
Tony Smith, 21 Sep 2006

Super cops seek fixed link to town centre CCTV

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is seeking a permanent tap into a network of 850 CCTV cameras that look down on greater Manchester. The link, giving SOCA free access to any camera in the city at the flick of a switch, is being made possible by the gradual upgrade of Manchester's CCTV network to wireless internet technology. The first such devices were installed in July up Wilmslow Road. Sources close to Manchester Police and City Council said SOCA was looking at how it might exploit the new technology to establish closer surveillance of its quarries in the city centre. SOCA refused to comment. "Some of the stuff they are doing is a little bit sensitive," said one source close to the scheme. Another said SOCA was interested because the old surveillance networks were limited by their costly fibre optic cable infrastructure that fed video images to control centres. "It would be very difficult to do on fibre. It would take a lot of fibre and would require every camera in the city to have a dedicated fibre link running straight to SOCA," said another source with knowledge of the scheme. That hadn't stopped the Metropolitan Police going ahead with plans to start running its own fibre optic links from the Scotland Yard control room to every CCTV camera in central London, he said. The advantage CCTV operators have in London appears to be a wireless CCTV network based on infrastructure built separately to BT's. Called Manchester Metronet, all the council's new CCTV cameras are connected to it, including the six that were trained over Wilmslow Road in July. Metronet announced this week that it had completed putting in a wireless network that had the capacity to carry live video images from Manchester's entire network of CCTV cameras. The firm is, however, a long way off snatching them from BT, whose fixed pipes normally carry the images to the city's CCTV control room. The costs already sunk in the physical fibre optic cables laid under pavements by BT, providing a dedicated fibre optic cable for every CCTV camera, are too high for them to be replaced too soon. Nevertheless, Manchester Metronet director James McCall said: "On average it can cost £15,000 to install a camera [on fibre] and it can take up to 150 days. On our network its takes five days and £7,750." The Register understands it can cost Manchester council £30,000 a year to run a single camera over a fixed glass fibre pipe, but just £1,000 to run one over a wireless network. This was attractive to the police force because it allowed them to move cameras where and when they are needed to spot crimes. Chief Superintendent Alan Cooper, Greater Manchester Police's divisional commander for south Manchester, said in a statement about the Wilmslow cameras last month: "CCTV is a powerful weapon in preventing and detecting crime and these state-of-the-art cameras will be vital in catching criminals and bringing more offenders to justice. "The location of each camera has been carefully considered and they will be monitored by specialist staff who will be fully briefed on problem areas and problem offenders. They will be tasked to keep an eye out for certain people," he said. The usual professional CCTV operators would still operate the cameras. Peter Fry, director of the CCTV User Group, said this was usual practice. Yet McCall said he was talking to Greater Manchester Police about giving them the means to tap their police operations straight into the city's entire network of CCTV cameras. "Manchester City Council are connected to our network, so we'll link the police to our network so we can then put IP encoders in place at the council and feed them to Manchester City Police," he said. He said he did not know anything about SOCA. But neither did South Manchester police, which installed the Wilmslow Road cameras in collaboration with the council, with funding from three local banks and a property firm. A spokeswoman for the force was unclear about how the Wilmslow Road cameras were used by the police and did not know of any grander plan for the police to have direct operational access to city centre cameras. She thought their images might only be piped to the council CCTV control room under the direction of the police. ®
Mark Ballard, 21 Sep 2006

Two more gambling chiefs arrested

The company whose chief executives were arrested in France last week had already filed a formal complaint to the European Commission claiming that France's gambling laws conflicted with the EC Treaty. Bwin Interactive, the firm behind BetandWin, filed a formal complaint in March to the European Commission, company spokeswoman Karin Klein told OUT-LAW. The complaint claims that France's gambling monopoly breaches Article 49 of the EC Treaty which enshrines the freedom to provide cross border services. "It asks the commission to force France to comply with EC law on the freedom to provide services," said Klein. The company's joint chief executives Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger were arrested last week in France in connection with the company's gambling business. Sports gambling in France is a monopoly for La Francaise de Jeux, which is 72 per cent owned by the French state. The joint-chief executives were released on Monday on €300,000 bail each after a hearing at a Nanterre court. "They are out and I think the entire case will take 12 months before we have a decision," said Klein. The executives were visiting France to launch a sponsorship deal with AS Monaco when they were held for questioning. Bwin hopes the French court's eventual verdict will be influenced by a ruling from Europe on cases already being processed, including that of Massimiliano Placanica. Placanica was an agent for Stanley International in Italy, where betting is tightly controlled by the state. The court of Larino has referred the case to the European Court of Justice to judge whether or not the Italian legislation in his case is consistent with Article 49. The case was lodged in August 2004, and Bwin expects a decision before the French court gives its ruling. "The ECJ will decide the Placanica before the Nanterre gives its judgment and we think the Nanterre judges will take the ECJ into account in making their decision," said Klein. Bwin is the third company in recent weeks to have officials arrested. Two British had individuals involved in US arrests. Ex-BetonSport chief executive David Carruthers remains in the US awaiting trial in a Department of Justice case while Peter Dicks, of Sportingbet, has been allowed to return to the UK before returning to New York on 28 September to face charges being pressed by the state of Louisiana. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 21 Sep 2006

Japan debut for first Class 4 SDHC card

Japanese memory card maker Elecom may have become the first company to announce a mid-speed high-capacity SD card. The company this week unveiled a 4GB SDHC product labelled Class 4, guaranteeing a data transfer rate of at least 4MBps and up to 7MBps, Elecom said.
Tony Smith, 21 Sep 2006

EU threatens to apply TV standards to web media

Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulator, has said that a European Union plan to regulate video risks restricting innovation and even forcing companies to relocate outside the EU to avoid compliance. Current legislation identifies as a regulated service one... “the principal purpose of which is the delivery of moving images with or without sound”, and could therefore be applied to everything from video blogs to on-line computer games. Television is a highly regulated industry, and the costs of implementing those regulations are considerable, and borne by the broadcaster. Ofcom argues that imposing that same regulatory burden on new media sources will either stifle their development or just make them relocate to outside the EU. Ofcom also recognises the problem of enforcing the regulations in its research report "Assessing Indirect Impacts of the EC Proposals for Video Regulation": "The only feasible way to enforce the Directive is via the intermediary, content host or service provider as a proxy of the content editor." The report suggests differentiating between linear and non-linear video: the former being streamed services where the content is aligned with a channel or service- which includes broadcast TV, and the latter being programming which the user has specifically asked to download- such as Video On Demand or on-line blogs. Linear video would therefore be subject to regulation in the same way as TV, but non-linear services would receive only light-touch regulation to enable the markets and services to develop freely and, most importantly, within the EU. What’s most interesting about the Ofcom report is that it appears to have been written by people who understand something about how video distribution is changing, and makes some good arguments about how the market might develop over the next five years. We can only hope that the rest of Europe takes note and doesn’t try to apply old rules to new media.®
Bill Ray, 21 Sep 2006

Imation fits Flash memory to charity wristbands

Storage media specialist Imation has begun selling a USB Flash drive integrated into a wristband in a range of charity-friendly colours, the company announced in Japan today. Available in capacities ranging fromm 32MB - pah! - to 1GB, the bands can also be customised with a company logo, witty message if you're willing to buy at least 100 of the things direct from Imation Japan. After the break, we reveal one well-known chip maker's who's already availed itself of this service...
Tony Smith, 21 Sep 2006

Two buses or one?

This question came up during Progress' recent EMEA user conference: at one point, a vendor representative put up a slide showing Sonic as an ESB (enterprise service bus) and DataXtend as a comparable bus operating at the data level. From subsequent discussions it emerged that whether these should be regarded as one bus or two has been the subject of much internal debate. Actually, this isn't the first time that this discussion has come up. Towards the end of last year I was commissioned by IBM to write a white paper on information as a service and in this paper I posited the use of a second bus (which I suggested should be called an Information Service Bus or ISB) for data level integration. IBM wasn't too sure about this and we eventually compromised by saying that the ISB is logically distinct from the ESB, but not be physically distinct. This is exactly the position that Progress has reached. It is much easier to visually explain the concept of information services working alongside application (web) services to provide a complete SOA environment if you use two buses rather than one. At one level (and working downwards) you have web services, legacy applications and so forth connected through the ESB to more generalised web services while those web services connect via the ISB to data services, which themselves are used to extract information from relevant data sources (data or content). Now, both buses use common communications channels, which is the argument in favour of having a single bus. However, the sort of adapters you use to connect to data sources are very different from those used in a typical ESB environment. Further, some implementations may be data-centric while others will be application-centric and, moreover, you can implement one without the other. In particular, an ISB effectively subsumes the role of data integration and, potentially, master data management, which you might easily want to implement separately from either SOA or an ESB. So, I am firmly of the belief that, at least from a logical perspective, it makes more sense to think of a complete SOA environment as consisting of twin buses as opposed to one. However, that's not quite the end of the story. If you think about it, you have services to services integration, data to data integration, and services to data integration (or vice versa) and each of these has its own characteristics, so you might actually think of three buses. However, three buses in a single diagram might be considered overkill though you could depict an 'S' shaped bus if you wanted to, implying three uses of a single bus. Of course, you could use a sideways 'U' for the same purpose with a dual bus structure, but again I think these approaches are overly complex - the whole point about SOA is simplification - if you can't depict it in a simple fashion you are defeating the object of the exercise. Of course, we all know that the problem with buses is that you wait for ages for one and then several come along at once. In this particular case I think that two buses is just right: one is too few and three is too many. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com
Philip Howard, 21 Sep 2006

MSI sounds 'stolen' GeForce 7900 GS alert

Taiwanese manufacturer MSI has warned its customers to be on the guard against anyone offering low-cost MSI-branded graphics cards - the products may be stolen goods. According to the company, a stack of Nvidia GeForce 7900 GS-based graphics cards nabbed in transit have begun appearing on online auction sites around the world.
Tony Smith, 21 Sep 2006

Top Gear's Hammond in hospital

Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond is in intensive care today after crashing a jet-powered car while attempting to break the British land speed record. The BBC confirmed that an accident took place at an airfield near York while Hammond was filming an edition of motoring TV show Top Gear. Hammond was taken by air ambulance to Leeds. He was reportedly conscious after the accident and was cut free by the fire services. He was driving a Vampire dragster, powered by a Rolls Royce jet engine. The Sun reported that a tyre blew sending the car into a somersault. The Vampire holds the current British land speed record, 300mph, and is theoretically capable of 370mph. The car uses a Rolls Royce Orpheus jet engine. More here. A spokeswoman for Leeds General Infirmary said: "He is in a serious but stable condition and there has been some improvement overnight. His family have asked us not to give out any other information at this time." ®
John Oates, 21 Sep 2006

Cane toads explode from beyond the grave

We all know fertiliser is used by terrorists to make high explosives all the time. Now, a fertiliser made from pulverised cane toads in Australia has gardeners checking their sheds for self-detonation. ToadJus, as the the product is tastefully dubbed, was created by Northern territory environmental group FrogWatch from the rotting remains of exterminated cane toads. The amphibians are a pest in Australlia, having been introduced to combat another invader, the cane beetle. The "sticky, vile-smelling" liquid has been a hit with green-fingered Aussies following its launch at a gardening show. Some 300 bottles have been sold, but now it seems - like a fine wine - the ToadJus needs time to mature. News.com.au reports that FrogWatch co-ordinator Graeme Sawyer said: "The batch sold was very young and, it now seems, still undergoing residual fermentation. "We don't need to go to product recall - the ToadJus is fine but the pressure needs to be relieved if bottles are being kept for later use." "We have another thousand or so bottles in storage that have had all their caps loosened, and in future the product will be vat stored for two months to ensure fermentation is complete." ®
Christopher Williams, 21 Sep 2006

ATI wins approval for RS690 launch

ATI's AMD-oriented integrated North Bridge chip, the RS690, has won the approval of the PCI SIG, which this week certified the part for PCI Express compatibility, paving the way for the part's appearance on the chipset market.
Tony Smith, 21 Sep 2006

California sues car makers

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is suing six car manufacturers for selling products which contribute to global warming and damage the environment of California. The state is seeking recompense for past and future damage being done to the its environment and water supply. California is taking the action against Chrysler, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. The car makers are accused of making and maintaining a public nuisance by producing vehicles which "collectively emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide". The complaint notes that 289m tons of carbon dioxide are emitted by vehicles produced by the six manufacturers each year in the US. This represents nine per cent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions and some 30 per cent of emissions in California. Lockyer said in a statement: "Global warming is causing significant harm to California's environment, economy, agriculture, and public health. The impacts are already costing millions of dollars and the price tag is increasing. Vehicle emissions are the single most rapidly growing source of the carbon emissions contributing to global warming, yet the federal government and automakers have refused to act. It is time to hold these companies responsible for their contribution to this crisis." The Attorney General's press release is here or the actual filing (Pdf) is here. The state of California has previously sued tobacco companies for selling cigarettes. US president George Bush has previously denied a link between human activity and global warming. US carmakers have been through a difficult period and have been forced to offer heavy discounts to try and counter falling sales. ®
John Oates, 21 Sep 2006

eBay pursued by fashionistas

Auctions of counterfeit couture on eBay have gotten the online tat bazaar into hot water with French fashion types, who are demanding it cough up €37m in a civil complaint. According to The Financial Times, ubiquitously-faked pricey bag maker Louis Vuitton is demanding €20m from eBay. Christian Dior Couture, part of the same French luxury goods group - LVMH - reckons eBay owes it €17m. eBay has already been called out by jewellers Tiffany for letting users flog knock-offs of its gear. Responding to the latest legal challenge, eBay's French arm said: "All sales of counterfeit products on ebay are totally illegal." It said trademark owners are able to notify it if they believe their IP is being infringed on the site. LVMH is pushing for improvements to eBay's monitoring procedures. Through French union Unifab it threatened eBay with a lawsuit in the summer. ®
Christopher Williams, 21 Sep 2006

Astronomers ID Saturn's newest ring

Saturn has another, very diffuse, outer ring identified by astronomers working on the Cassini imaging data at NASA's JPL laboratory and the Space Science Institute in Boulder. The ring showed up in a photograph taken on 17 September, in what scientists are calling a "one of a kind" observation. Cassini's cameras can't look towards the sun, except during so-called occulations, when the planet passes between the sun and the spacecraft. These occultations generally only last for around an hour, leaving little time for observation work. But on 17 September, Cassini found itself flying in Saturn's shadow for 12 hours. Backlit, saturn's rings look entirely different. In the same way that a car windscreen suddenly looks very dusty when one is driving towards the sun, new features of the rings show up in the diffracted sunlight. The newly identified ring is very diffuse and shares its orbit with the moons Janus and Epimetheus, just inside the E and G rings. Scientists say they were surprised to discover such a well defined ring in this region, although they had expected meteoric collisions with the two moons might throw dust into the main planet's orbit. The occultation also gave the team time to study the E ring in more detail. The images sent back show the moon Enceladus moving through the ring, leaving wispy projections in its wake. The research team suspects these are left by tiny ice particles that erupt from the geysers at the moon's south pole as they enter the E ring. The occlusion also allowed researchers to point the cameras back at Earth. The image they recorded is the first colour picture of Earth taken from the outer solar system since the Voyager 1 mission. "Nothing has greater power to alter our perspective of ourselves and our place in the cosmos than these images of Earth we collect from faraway places like Saturn," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute, Boulder. "In the end, the ever-widening view of our own little planet against the immensity of space is perhaps the greatest legacy of all our interplanetary travels." You can check out more of the images here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Sep 2006

US mobilises fish in war on terror

The US has responded to the possible threat of terror attack against its drinking water supplies by using fish to monitor the state of the H2O, the BBC reports. New York, San Francisco and Washington now boast tanks containing small numbers of bluegills, aka sunfish, into which muncipal water is constantly pumped. A computer system "registers changes in the fishes' vital signs" and when something is amiss sends an alert via email, pager, or "fish phone" mobile device. Bill Lawler, co-founder of San Diego-based Intelligent Automation Corporation, which makes the "Intelligent Aquatic BioMonitoring System", said: "It's like an early warning system - it acts as another line of defence." The New York blugill terror vigilantes have already earned their keep - they recently detected a diesel spill in the water supply before any of the Department of Environmental Protection's other monitoring equipment sprang into action. They do, however, have their limitations. The BBC rather brilliantly notes they "cannot reliably detect germs and are no use against other sorts of attacks - the bombing of a water main, or computer hackers attacking the systems that control the flow of water". ®
Lester Haines, 21 Sep 2006

iSkoot brings Skype to Treo smart phones

iSkoot the Sype-on-mobile-phones company has brought its VoIP software to Palm's Treo 650 and 700p, the firm announced this week even as it extended its network coverage to dozens of countries outside the US.
Hard Reg, 21 Sep 2006
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RM: nothing to see here

Education IT supplier RM has told an enthralled stock market it expects to meet expectations this year. The bumper summer buying season for schools went well, it seems. Revenue should be similar to 2005's £268m. RM CEO Tim Pearson said: "At the beginning of the year we reported that we'd put in place a plan to respond to tough conditions in some of our markets. I'm pleased to report...that we anticipate reporting profits in line with expectations for the year." Beyond the bottom line, RM execs reckon they've outdone themselves on customer satistfaction, beating targets. The full financial year 2006 breakdown hits playgrounds towards the end of November. ®
Christopher Williams, 21 Sep 2006

Yahoo! guest's Dell laptop goes up in smoke

Days after a ThinkPad decided enough spreadsheets already and committed suicide in spectacular fashion at Los Angeles airport, yet another Dell notebook has joined the list of self-immolating laptops, this time at Yahoo!'s US headquarters.
Tony Smith, 21 Sep 2006

Google erases Operation Ore campaign site

Google has delisted www.inquisition21.com, the website campaigning against many of the Operation Ore child pornography convictions. The last time the search giant's crawlers checked the site out was on 10 September. Operation Ore, the UK's largest investigation into online child pornography, was the result of US authorities handing over credit card details on over 7,000 individuals whose details they had found on a porn portal that contained links to child pornography. Inquisition21 says the database contained a large number of fake credit card numbers, and many card numbers that were being used fraudulently. This, it argues, casts doubt on the safety of some of the convictions in the UK. It is gathering support to mount a legal challenge to the convictions. Brian Rothery, Inquisition 21's editor, says the delisting followed an attack on the site on 8 September. He says the attack, during which "quite a large amount of undesirable material was placed on the site with numerous links to it from other sites", came as the site was about to make potentially damaging disclosures about the handling of the investigation. We asked Google why it had taken the site off its database, and on which grounds it has appointed itself censor, but it refused to comment on the action. Instead it issued a statement: "We cannot tolerate websites trying to manipulate search results as we aim to provide users with the relevant and objective search results. "Google may temporarily or permanently ban any site or site authors that engage in tactics designed to distort their rankings or mislead users in order to preserve the accuracy and quality of our search results." At the time of going to press, the company had not confirmed that the Inquisition21 site had actually breached any of these guidelines. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Sep 2006

Law chief wants wiretap evidence

Wire tap evidence should be admissible in court, attorney general Lord Goldsmith has told the Guardian newspaper after being briefed by his opposite number in the United States. His comments were made on the same day that 20 police and security chiefs were arrested over the abuse of wiretaps in Italy. "I do believe there are ways we can [admit wiretap evidence]," said Goldsmith. "Otherwise, we're depriving ourselves of a key tool to prosecute serious and organised crime and terrorism," he said in the paper today. There are people in the police and security services who are said to have reservations about allowing wire tap evidence in court because they fear it might reveal the tools of their trade. The report said Goldsmith realised it would be possible to establish safeguards to protect the privacy of the security services. The article did not mention any need to protect the privacy of ordinary citizens. The attorney general came to this conclusion after meeting with US authorities including his peer, Alberto Gonzales, representatives of the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission, lawyers and judges. The only other fear Goldsmith expressed in the Guardian report was that snoopers would become inundated with requests to spy on people. "We may need help from the legislature and the judges to avoid the agencies being swamped with irrelevant requests," he said. Italian use of wiretaps is said by the Financial Times to be "ubiquitous" and leaks of transcripts to the press before a trial "habitual". One of the people arrested over abuse of wiretaps yesterday was the former head of security at Telecom Italia, Giuliano Tavaroli. Pierguido Iezzi, head of security at the telco's owner Pirelli, was also arrested. Most of the other arrests were of police. Allegations included the operation of a secret "shadow" wiretap network. The US representatives had told Goldsmith how wiretap evidence had allowed them to prosecute Mafia dons. He subsequently hinted to the Guardian at a hardening of the state's view of suspects: "One of the key issues for me will be whether we've got the right attitude to prosecuting, whether prosecutors need to be, I won't say more aggressive, but more forward and forceful," he said. ®
Mark Ballard, 21 Sep 2006

Dutch TV hounds Google Earth topless sunbather

Here's a cautionary tale for those of you who like to indulge in a bit of light sunbathing in the privacy of your own patio: make sure you ring Google to see if they're planning a satellite pass-over before whipping off your top: No sooner had the poor Dutch woman pictured here popped up on Google Sightseeing, than Digg got hold of her assets. This immediately prompted a heated debate - sadly not on the technological threat to privacy - but rather as to whether or not she really was enjoying her leisure time as nature intended. Unfortunately, we may never know. Dutch TV quickly identified the address and moved in for the kill, dispatching a team armed with grabs from Google Earth to the sun-worshipping resident's domicile. Mercifully for her, she wasn't in. ®
Lester Haines, 21 Sep 2006

Yachting blogger plagued by wind, power issues

BlogBlog One of the things that makes it very easy to spot Americans who are cruising around the Med on sailing boats is the Iridium phones they seem to imagine they need. You only get two or three days to detect them, because they quickly discover that they can buy a Greek SIM card for less than the price of their next ten minutes, and then pretend the Iridium was a toy phone they brought for their children to play with. Inmarsat, having lent me a BGAN broadband satellite terminal for this trip, said: "By the way, you can use it for simultaneous voice calls you know? Around a dollar a minute." It sounds like a lot of money, but in fact, compared with the price of GSM roaming, it's pretty good, and so I asked how it works. "You'll work it out," they said. Not yet, I haven't. To be fair to Inmarsat, it's not all together their fault that I don't have enough battery power to play around. We're currently anchored off a deserted cove on the east side of the island of Kalamos, where once there was a small fishing village, Porto Leone. I don't know if it ever had electricity; it was abandoned in 1953, after a big earthquake which devastated these islands, in particular, the islands of Ithaca and Kephalonia nearby. Whether it ever had mains electricity or not, seems to be beside the point - it has nothing at all now. Just an abandoned church. So the plan to try the BGAN phone service last night came to naught. The main problem, however, was not power or coverage. It was wind. For reasons even an expert meteorologist might find puzzling, the wind comes from literally all directions except from under the sea. I watched Summer Lightning from the road above the cove: a gust literally came vertically down onto the boat, and spread out in a circle. And this played Old Nick with my attempts to align the satellite terminal. When tied up in a harbour, you have a pair of ropes ("lines") going from the rear of the ship to the dock. The boat doesn't crash into the dock because you have the anchor laid out in front of it, held tight. And after you've been tied up for an hour or so, you'll have company - at least one ship either side, touching yours, and making any movement at all difficult - if the boat is pointing north-west, it stays that way. Out at anchor, of course, you can't do that. You drop the anchor as normal, but there's no dock; so you have to tie up to the nearest tree. And since the tree is on land, and (typically) the water there is shallow, you obviously want to be a fair way away from the land; so you make a very long rope out of all your short ropes, tied together. That works. You pull the rope tight, fasten on the rear of the ship, pull the anchor tight at the other end, and (you might imagine) are now nicely aligned in a straight stripe from tree to rope to boat to chain to anchor. Wrong. You swing around to the rhythm of the sea, and every time I managed to get an Inmarsat signal, I lost it within two minutes as the boat pointed in another direction. A gentler wind, or a more stable direction for the wind, and all would have been well. I could, perhaps, have fired up the Bluetooth Inmarsat phone, and phoned home. At that point, the battery failed. My crew instructed me to row ashore with my satellite and PC gear in a plastic bag. Suspecting a mutinous plot, I pleaded the need to generate a hangover, and opened a bottle of Retsina wine. I may be some time... ®
Guy Kewney, 21 Sep 2006
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Smut sites use IE exploit to spread spyware

Hackers are taking advantage of a new, unpatched Internet Explorer vulnerability to infect users visiting pornographic websites. There's a number of unpatched (or so called 0-day) flaws around at the moment, but this one takes advantage of a flaw within the Vector Markup Language (VML) component of IE. VML is an XML file that allows vector drawings to be delivered to surfers. The security bug is unrelated to a (still unpatched) flaw in Microsoft's Direct Animation Path (daxctle.ocx) ActiveX control discovered last week. Security researchers at Sunbelt Software report the latest exploit is being used to install spyware on vulnerable systems visiting hostile sites. To avoid such drive-by downloads, users are advised to avoid visiting pr0n sites. In the circumstances, use of an alternative browser such as Firefox or Opera is also to be advised. A full write-up of the problem can by found in an advisory be the SANs Institute's Internet Storm Centre here. ®
John Leyden, 21 Sep 2006

Airbus A380 faces further delays

The wiring problems which earlier this year forced Airbus parent company EADS to delay delivery of its A380 by six months continue to plague the roll-out programme. According to the BBC, EADS is planning a further six month hold-up, "again linked to wiring problems". The EADS press statement says: "EADS does not confirm nor deny specific information reported by various media relating to the A380 program because the review of the program is not completed yet. "Although [the] company's assessment is still under way, continuing industrialisation challenges with the wiring of production aircraft have been identified and are being tackled. Consequently, from what is known today, there will be further delays. The current status is that we have not finalised the schedule of deliveries nor the financial impact of any delays." The financial impact may be severe. Back in June, EADS estimated annual losses of €500m between 2007 and 2010 associated with the revised delivery schedule. Among the airlines waiting to get their hands on the 159 aircraft currently on order are Emirates (43 orders), Lufthansa (15), Qantas (12) and Virgin Atlantic (6). ®
Lester Haines, 21 Sep 2006

HP CEO named in leak probe

HP chief executive Mark Hurd has been pulled into the firm's burgeoning phone snooping mess for approving an email sting operation on a reporter. Emails seen by the Washington Post suggest that Hurd was aware of the snooping campaign. Specifically, it appears he OK'd an effort to use bogus emails to trick a reporter into disclosing the source of leaks. Other prongs of the wide-ranging mole hunt operation also saw the company get hold of directors' phone records in an effort to find out who was leaking information. Investigators pretended to be directors and journalists in order to get hold of their phone records. The company is also accused of trying to install a Trojan onto a journalist's computer. HP even carried out a feasibility study into planting spies into the newsrooms of the Wall Street Journal and CNet. Hilariously, the investigation was overseen by HP's director of ethics Kevin Hunsaker. Since the scandal first broke in early September, almost every day has seen ever more bizarrre allegations and a lack of firm action from HP. HP chairman Patricia Dunn, originally blamed for the scandal, has agreed to resign from her job in January, but will remain on the board. Hurd will then take her job along with his own. The House Energy Committee, which is investigating the scandal, is to ask for special subpoena powers to expedite its probe. HP has been criticised for failing to deal with the issue properly and failing to follow good corporate governance practise - by Intel's Andy Grove, among others. Grove said he was saddened to see HP return to combining the CEO and chairman role. ®
John Oates, 21 Sep 2006

Nestlé shifts Smarties production to Germany

It's enough to have any true patriot choking into his or her beef pie of olde England: Nestlé has announced that it has decided to shift Smarties production from York to Hamburg, in the process axing 645 jobs at the Rowntree chocolate factory which it acquired in 1988. According to The Guardian, the Swiss food and drink monolith declared it "had been forced to shut down the antiquated five-storey Victorian building at its plant in York and move production elsewhere in Europe to safeguard the remaining 1,800 jobs at the factory". The Rowntree closure brings to an end 70 years of UK Smarties production, which began in York in 1937. To compound the outrage, Dairy Box production will be moved to Spain, while Black Magic will henceforth be a Czech Republic delicacy. Nestlé UK chief exec, Alistair Sykes, said in a statement: "The UK confectionery market is extremely competitive and Nestlé Rowntree must therefore ensure its operations are cost effective." Nestlé added it would invest £20m to improve production facilities at the Yorkshire plant - the company's biggest production facility. The old Rowntree factory faces demolition and replacement by "a development including residential units, allowing Nestlé to benefit from high house prices in York". The GMB union called the announcement "a bleak day for York", and pledged to battle the lay-offs. The union's organiser for members in York, John Kirk, said: "Nestlé failed to invest adequately in the plant and building in York. To use this neglect as the reason to move heritage brands to plants overseas, where [it] did invest, is not acceptable." City of York Labour MP Hugh Bayley was more pragmatic: "Manufacturing has to change to survive. If it doesn't change, more jobs would be lost." Regarding the imminent demise of the Rowntree factory, Bayley added: "It would be dreadful to be sentimental about an old building if it put jobs at risk." Nestlé said it hoped the majority of the 645 workers for the chop would opt for voluntary redundancy or early retirement. ®
Lester Haines, 21 Sep 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

AOL and Tiscali attract bidders

UpdateUpdate Consolidation in the broadband sector looks set to continue apace, as Carphone Warehouse and BSkyB fight it out for control of AOL's UK broadband business, according to reports. Earlier, Orange was understood to be interested in the buy, but pulled out last night, The Times reports. AOL announced in August that it was looking for a new owner for its UK arm and said it hoped to have details finalised this autumn. The company was hoping to sell for around £1bn, but industry watchers say this is unlikely. A fiercely competitive market has put pressure on prices and all the major players are feeling the pinch. The paper also claims that Tiscali's loss-making UK business is attracting buyers. BT is rumoured to be one of the interested parties, but never comments on rumour and speculation. A spokesman added that there is always a lot of each. AOL serves 2.2m customers in the UK, and Tiscali a further 1.2m. The two companies are third and fourth largest broadband suppliers respectively. ® Update: In related news, Time Warner has announced that it will sell AOL's French arm to Neuf Cegetel, the second largest fixed-line operator in France, for $365 million. Under the terms of the deal, AOL will provide editorial content and will manage online ad sales for Neuf's internet portals. Neuf Cegetel will take on the 500,000 or so AOL subscribers in France, and has promised to find jobs for 140 AOL employees. The deal must be approved by the country's competition commission before it is completed.
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Sep 2006

Belgacom pulled plug on Ouranous network

Belgacom cut off satellite broadband provider Ouranous Networks the telecoms services company confirmed this week. Ouranous customers were left high and dry on Wednesday last week when their connections simply failed with no explanation from the company. The Ouranous website also vanished at the time, but is now back online. The site claims a "general network problem" as the reason for the outage, as well as stating that an announcement will be made on Friday. However, Belgacom seems quite clear on what's wrong with the Ouranous network. "We had a commitment with Ouranous, and they have failed to respect that commitment" said a spokesman, though he would not detail how Ouranous failed to lived up to its commitments. Running a satellite broadband service depends on economies of scale, and it seems that Ouranous may have failed to attract enough Aramiska customers when that company went down. Customers were already complaining about quality of service issues, and for many this will be the final straw regardless of what development Ouranous can announce tomorrow. Ouranous was not available for comment.®
Bill Ray, 21 Sep 2006

Hitler net cartoon ruffles German feathers

A German satirical cartoon featuring a singing Adolf Hitler in his bunker in 1945, lamenting his fate, has proved an internet hit for illustrator Walter Moers, The Guardian reports. Der Bonker shows the dicatator sitting on the toilet moaning about Churchill, and in the bath with his dog Blondie and three Hitlerian rubber ducks which are trying to persuade him to surrender. While fans of Moers' comic books "depicting the dictator as a frustrated little man who throws fits every time the Jews are mentioned" have flocked to the net to enjoy the show, the video has ruffled a few German feathers. Jewish author Ralph Giordano said: "You cannot treat the father of the Holocaust in this way." Berlin Holocaust Memorial co-founder Lea Rosh said she does not believe "that this is a topic that one can make jokes about". Several TV companies agree, and MTV, ProSieben, RTL2 and Viva have refused to air ads by the Jamba ringtone company, which "offers the clip as a mobile phone download". Jamba spokesman Niels Genzmer said the boycott was having little effect, with Der Bonker still among the top five most popular downloads. He added: "First we were told it promotes right wing extremism, then we were told it could be conceived as doing so. We cannot comprehend this." In defence of Der Bonker, Jewish publicist Henryk M Broder weighed in with: "That Hitler was a murderer - we know that, it doesn't have to be the topic of every thesis. But Moers shows wonderfully what kind of a wretched, useless gasbag the Germans fell for. And that's groovy." ®
Lester Haines, 21 Sep 2006

Shuttle lands, plans for next mission underway

The Shuttle has landed safely at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, a day late, but in one piece. NASA had originally planned to return to Earth on Wednesday, but the astronauts were delayed while NASA checked out some debris outside the Shuttle. Once they'd determined it posed no threat to the safety of the crew, the Shuttle was cleared for landing. To get back to Earth, the Shuttle pilot must first slow the orbiting craft down by over 300kmh. This so-called de-orbiting allows the Shuttle to slip back into the atmosphere. As the craft goes through the atmosphere, its hull can heat to over 1,650C. The trip home takes about an hour. The next Shuttle mission is pencilled in for 14 December. The mission will be remarkable for carrying the first ever Swedish astronaut, Christer Fuglesang. He and his crewmates will hitch a ride in the Shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station. They will continue the construction work on several spacewalks. Fuglesang (pictured in training, above) will go on two of those outside excursions. The crew of mission STS-116 will deliver a third truss segment, a SPACEHAB module, and other key components, NASA says. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Sep 2006
For Sale sign detail

29% of departing directors admit stealing data - survey

Almost a third of company directors surveyed have admitted to stealing corporate information, with memory sticks making theft easier than ever. In a survey of 1,385 business people, 29 per cent of company directors admitting to stealing confidential corporate information when they left a company. The survey, conducted by polling company YouGov on behalf of software firm Hummingbird, found that 24 per cent of the thefts involved using memory sticks or MP3 players to move data and 18 per cent used email. The information was revealed as part of Hummingbird's Information Management Survey, which assesses the way in which firms are coping with increases in information sources. "There is an exponential increase in communications technologies in the workplace and it is harder and harder for organisations to control information access and to protect the confidentiality of vital data," said Tony Heywood a senior vice president of Hummingbird. "Businesses should stop relying on the moral code of the individual employee to ensure information capital is protected and implement the appropriate enabling information management systems to control information flow." "While the majority of employment contracts have a clause forbidding the unauthorised removal of information, it is incredibly difficult to track and monitor given the explosion in volume of information dealt with on a daily basis," said Heywood. The most likely material to be stolen is relatively low risk. Employees are most likely to steal training documentation and procedure manuals, but 18 per cent of those who steal will take financial figures and 14 per cent will take client reports. "Organisations have to be aware of their growing vulnerability to corporate espionage and do something about it," said Heywood. The survey also found that 28 per cent of employees say that they waste 20 per cent of the time they spend on email. Searching through emails, looking for attachments and documents and dealing with email overload eats up one fifth of their email time, the employees told the survey. "The results call into question the reality of the so-called knowledge economy," said a statement from Hummingbird. "Productivity levels seem to be plummeting due to the sheer amount of information that employees are dealing with." Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 21 Sep 2006
6

IBM's 'secret island'

It would not be the first time the suggestion has been made that games programmers hold at least one key to the future for business systems development. But IBM's latest research project - a "secret island" within the confines of Linden Labs' Second Life massively multi-player games environment - brings that possibility a whole lot closer.
Martin Banks, 21 Sep 2006

Vendors prep 200Mbps powerline network adaptors

Network equipment maker Netgear has extended the speed of its powerline networking system to 200Mbps, bringing the high-speed Ethernet-over-mains system to UK consumers through a new two-box starter kit, the company told Reg Hardware this week.
Hard Reg, 21 Sep 2006

Sun investors blast fat cat greed

Despite losses nearing $1bn over the past year, Sun Microsystems' top executives are cashing in. CEO and president Jonathan Schwartz and chairman Scott McNealy have seen their rewards increase several hundred per cent over the past 12 months. Now two of Sun's major institutional investors have taken aim at what they call "excessive" compensation for a period in which the company has been in the doldrums. Two public pension funds - the AFL-CIO union's AFSCME and the Connecticut Retirement fund - have tabled a motion calling for an annual referendum on the work of Sun's generous executive compensation committee. The astronomical bonuses and the shareholder motion were disclosed in a SEC filing yesterday. CEO Jonathan Schwartz saw his remuneration rise a whopping 660 per cent, up from $3m in 2005 to $22.8m in 2006. Schwartz started the year as president and COO, swapping the latter title for CEO in April. Chairman Scott McNealy had to settle for a more modest 292 per cent increase. Schwartz took home almost $900,000 and $568,000 in salary and cash bonuses last year, with McNealy receiving $127,489 and $933,450 in bonuses. But the bulk of the bosses' bounty came in the form of restricted stock - Schwartz was granted $12.97m and McNealy $6.7m. Restricted stock options basically stuff money in to the executives' wallets, come rain or shine. "It pays off even if the stock price of the company drops by 90 per cent," Berkeley law professor Jesse Fried said last month. "There's a tremendous amount of pay-without-performance built in." But aren't the Sun kings' bonuses supposed to be tied to the health of the company? The company seems to want you to think so. "Sun's philosophy, in setting compensation policies for executive officers, is to align pay with performance..." the company stresses in yesterday's SEC filing. It's very complicated, but it all depends on how you measure health. Over the year Sun has posted losses in each of its four most recent quarters, totaling $863m. (The company recorded a loss of $310m for the quarter ending June, and losses of $217m, $223m, and $123m in preceding quarters). That compares to a slender but very real $200m non-GAAP profit for the preceding year, a figure that excludes $260m in restructuring charges. And it's even worse than the $791m loss recorded in 2004. The group who devised the bonuses, the Leadership Development and Compensation Committee (LDCC), says it's independent. But it consists of three of Schwartz and McNealy's fellow board members including John Doerr. The LDCC also bases its calculations largely on performance targets set by...Schwartz and McNealy. The LDCC also devised a bonus scheme that takes count of factors other than profits. The scheme loads 40 per cent of the final calculation onto the final quarter of the financial year, where the yearly revenue growth and yearly free cash flow become factors. Sun's revenues are on a rebound, but not its profits. As you'd expect, the investors' proposal for a referendum, Proposal 4, has got the brush off from the board, with an official recommendation to reject the bid. We still remember when then CEO McNealy boasted of getting his hair cut at Supercuts, a symbol of Sun's new austerity. That was in 2002, the year Sun's stock crashed by a third...and the company lost a mere $255m. Reality-based bonuses? Not at Sun. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Sep 2006
DVD it in many colours

EU pledges €78m for grid research

The European Commission has pledged €78m to fund research projects into tailoring computer grid technologies and services to meet the needs of European businesses. Grid technologies involve linking thousands of computers and devices dynamically, to provide computing power on demand more flexibly and cheaply. EU-funded research in this area has already been applied in automotive, aeronautics, financial, pharmaceutical, and media industry segments. For example, Audi is using grid prototypes for computer-aided design, engineering and testing, as part of the EU-funded SIMDAT project launched in 2004. The commission hopes the launch of 23 new projects will result in wider scale deployment of the technology. "Grid and service-oriented architectures are crucial enabling technologies for economy-wide productivity and growth", said information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding. "Grid technologies, for example, enable competing manufacturers with common suppliers to develop fully integrated engineering environments that protect the commercial interests of all parties and boost their collective competitiveness. This is why I intend to earmark substantial EU funding for research in this field also in the future." The EU is funding three main projects (listed below) and 20 smaller projects that will together involve around 300 participants from academia and industry. BEinGRID (EU contribution: €15.7m), experiments to test and accelerate the take-up of grids in a range of various European business sectors (entertainment, financial, industrial, chemistry, retail, textiles, etc). The trial seeks to establish best practices and components to assist firms in getting the maximum benefit from the deployment of grid technologies. XtreemOS (EU contribution: €14.2m), aims to extend the open source operating system Linux with grid services and support for virtual organisations. BREIN (EU contribution: €6.6m), adapting grid technologies from academic environments to support critical applications for logistics management at airports. Between 2002 and 2006, the commission has invested about €130m in grid research and €250m in grid deployment, including an upgrade of GÉANT, Europe's high-speed electronic research network. Because of its importance in making European business more competitive, research into grids will continue to receive substantial funding, the commission said. ®
John Leyden, 21 Sep 2006

Thailand faces media clampdown

Thai radio, television and internet operators will from tomorrow face closure if they disseminate "news and comments deemed a threat to national security and the monarchy", Reuters reports. The Information Ministry invited the companies to a get-together designed to "seek cooperation" in enforcing the order "to restrict, control, stop or destroy information deemed to affect the constitutional monarchy". Chief internet inspector Kritpong Rimcharonepak told reporters after the meeting: "We seek their cooperation not to present articles, remarks, or information that will infringe the democratic reform under the constitutional monarchy. They can still present political comments on their media, but if anything goes wrong, the caretakers of those media must take responsibility." The order, effective from Friday, includes "a ban on live interviews on radio and television, phone-in comments and scrolling messages on television from mobile phones". ®
Lester Haines, 21 Sep 2006

Asus exposes Nvidia physics card product

ExclusiveExclusive Nvidia is developing a standalone games physics processing card, motherboard maker Asus has let slip. Announcing a new mobo equipped with three PCI Express x16 slots, the Taiwanese firm said the third connector was specifically for "Nvidia's upcoming Physics card".
Tony Smith, 21 Sep 2006

Virgin Trains to get Wi-Fi

Virgin Trains has teamed up with Nomad Digital to provide Wi-Fi connectivity to passengers. The system, to be deployed across Virgin's network next year, will consist of a relay every few miles, allowing the train to connect to the net. The limiting factor for speed of connection will be the wired portion of the link, from the relay to the rest of the internet, which will operate over ADSL or similar. There seems little point having a 49Mb/sec connection to a 2Mb/sec ADSL line, but the speed should be more than adequate for most usage, at least until the teens with their Nintendo DSs start eating into the bandwidth. While based on 802.16, the technology being deployed by Nomad is actually pre-WiMAX, and operates in the unlicensed 5.8GHz spectrum. Keeping the power down to remain unlicensed means more relay stations, but a lot less paperwork. Nomad is particularly pleased with its handover technology, which it says can pass connections from relay to relay without dropping a packet. Pricing wasn't available from Virgin, but on the Brighton Express, which runs the same technology, connectivity is branded T-Mobile and priced the same as their other hotspots, so we can only hope for something similar from Virgin. ®
Bill Ray, 21 Sep 2006

Manta to let Apple Remote zap all Macs

Canadian company Twisted Melon has come to the rescue of Mac owners who like to make use of Apple's Remote Control but lack a suitably infrared-equipped computer. TM's Mira app has been around for a short while, but now the company is offering Manta, a $20 USB-connected IR receiver. Alas, demand is so high, the company's website appears to have sold out, but it pledges to have the kit on offer again shortly. Mira 1.2 can link the $9 Apple Remote Control to 40 apps via Manta. It costs $16. A snip, we'd say. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Sep 2006
chart

AMD opens Opteron to all some

AMD has expanded its friends and family program in an obvious way by allowing partners to plug their CPUs, accelerators and other components directly into Opteron processor sockets. AMD's unveiling today of Torrenza 2 - aka the Torrenza Innovation Socket - builds on an existing deal that let third parties tap into the company's Hypertransport technology. Now, AMD has agreed to open up the entire Opteron socket specifications to preferred partners willing to pay a licensing fee. As a result, customers could start seeing some odd but fantastic motherboards with, for example, a mix of Opteron and Cell chips or even an UltraSPARC T1/Opteron combo.
Ashlee Vance, 21 Sep 2006

Intel will open server chips to partners next week

ExclusiveExclusive Everyone in the server world has been wondering if Intel planned a response to AMD's opening of its Opteron socket specifications. Well, The Register can reveal that Intel does indeed have a counterattack in store, and it will arrive in part at next week's Intel Developer Forum.
Ashlee Vance, 21 Sep 2006

Lord, won't you lease me a rotary phone?

LettersLetters More than a few people suspect that Mrs E Strogen, the lady who rented a rotary phone for 40 years racking up thousands of pound is a made up name. "Was she married to Mr I.C Wiener?" asks Murad Talukdar But Strogens are everywhere you look. The Associated Press isn't allowed to make up stories, and in any case we read it on the internet - so it must be true. A few of you wondered if the practice continues here in the UK. Billing people for ancient phones, that is, not making stuff up: I suspect BT make a fortune charging people this rental fee for handsets they probably threw away decades ago, and just haven't noticed the charge on their bill. Adrian Barnett Andrew Moore shares this story: In a similar vein- when I moved into my current house five years ago I found I was being billed for a phone which I didn't have- I fitted a DECT phone when we moved in because there was no phone. I rang the telco about this and asked them to stop billing us for a phone that we did not have. Their answer was in order to stop billing us I would have to take the old phone down to the nearest telephone centre. I tried to explain again that I did not have the phone but there was no budging at their end. Obviously, the old phone was some form of priceless antique and they needed to have it back. So I searched all over the house and found the phone in an old box in the attic. It was an old bakelite rotary phone with an giant phono plug on the end that wouldn't have even fitted into the current phone connection. So I took it down to the phone centre and they very reluctantly cancelled my monthly rental (no refunds). As I got up the leave the girl shouted "excuse me sir- you left your phone behind"... I still have that phone. "Captain Cretin" says that back in the Spangles era, the practice was rife: I can top that with two examples from Great Universal Stores. 1/ Uni-rent got really embarrassed about collecting the rental every week for many years (at least 10 years) on a single wooden plank used on a scaffold tower that they gave GUS the plank for free. 2/ While knocking down a wall in the basement of a GUS subsidiary in the early 1990's I found a room full of IBM typewriters circa 1970 that were all on rental. I have no idea how much they were being charged per typewriter as the accounts department would not say; but multiply your $14k by about 75 typewriters and I would guess you would be close. PS During the power cuts in the 70's GUS bought the maintenance staff torches so that they could find their way round in the dark; well at least until they found out how much the batteries were costing, then they took them all back and stuffed them into the same room they were hiding the typewriters in; they have this thing about not telling senior management about their cock-ups; even when it ends up costing millions. CC I played cricket against GUS once, Captain. Back on-topic. The most significant aspect of the story, Tom Watson and others remind us, is that it was still working: The story is nice, but consider this: The phone ALWAYS worked. It wasn't one of those $10 (or less) throw-away's that we have now. The nice "500" sets (or "300" sets if you go back to the 50's) were BUILT TO LAST. The phone company didn't want to service the items, and had high standards for quality and workmanship. You could probably do all the things described in another story about disk drives and the phone would come out smiling, still operational. This can't be said for the phones of today. Yes, they have more features (one button dialing, etc.) but they just don't last. I suspect that the grandma was quite correct in wanting her old phone back. How much would a quality phone that lasts 30+ years cost? Maybe the rental wasn't so much of a rip-off!! Tom Quite right. And our dodgy maths? We're working on it. There's a nice page on old Bell rotaries, here, at David Massey's Bell System Memorial site. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Sep 2006
For Sale sign detail

Botnet creators AIM high

A new worm spreading over AOL Instant Messenger seeks to built a botnet of zombie Windows PCs. The Pipeline worm packs an executable file disguised as a JPEG, which if executed, tries to download other strains of malware rootkits and Trojans. Pipeline uses the AIM Buddy List on infected computers to target other prospective marks. Like many instant messaging worms, Pipeline appears as an instant message from a familiar contact, luring users into visiting malware-infested websites. The IM message “hey would it okay if i upload this picture of you to my blog?” downloads a hostile file called image18.com, disguised as a JPEG. Running the file results in infection. Once compromised, infected PCs join a botnet under the control of hackers, who may use it for malign purposes include relaying spam, performing distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks or committing click fraud. Hackers can also gain access to personal data stored on infected PCs. The botnet established by Pipeline is sophisticated, according to researchers with IM security firm FaceTime. Features include the ability to authorise only specific IRC clients to log in and manipulate the botnet. The Pipeline worm is different from most previous IM worms because it features multiple waves of attack. Chris Boyd, director of malware research for FaceTime Security Labs, said: "Previous IM attacks have tended to focus on the damage done by the files, with little thought on the method of delivery, save for the quickest way to get those files onto a PC. Here, the motivation for the bad guys seems to be in lining up as many 'install chains' as possible to insure a consistent pipeline that can be controlled by their rogue botnet." ®
John Leyden, 21 Sep 2006

Yahoo! wants to buy Facebook - WSJ

Yahoo! is in talks to buy Facebook, the social networking site for college- and schoolkids, the WSJ reports today. Facebook is looking for up to a billion dollars, the paper says. Earlier suitors include Microsoft and Viacom. The popular website has already rejected a $750m offer, Business Week wrote in March. At the time, the company was said to be holding out for a $2bn offer. Facebook is supposedly America's second most popular social networking site, behind MySpace. Launched in 2004, it claims 9.5 million members. The company landed itself in hot water a couple of weeks ago, when it sprang a 'creepy' news feed on the home pages of users. This updated members about the recent Facebook activities of their friends. Some 500,000 users - signed a petition protesting the upgrade, prompting Facebook to backpedal furiously with a new redesign. In response to the petition, founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote: "We really messed this one up. When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them." ®
Drew Cullen, 21 Sep 2006

One bus or two?

CommentComment This question came up during Progress's recent EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) user conference: at one point, a vendor representative showed a slide showing Sonic as an ESB (enterprise service bus) and DataXtend as a comparable bus operating at the data level. From subsequent discussions it emerged that whether these should be regarded as one bus or two has been the subject of much internal debate. This isn't the first time that this discussion has come up. Towards the end of last year I was commissioned by IBM to write a white paper on information as a service and in this paper I posited the use of a second bus (which I suggested should be called an Information Service Bus or ISB) for data level integration. IBM wasn't too sure about this and we eventually compromised by saying that the ISB is logically distinct from the ESB, but not physically distinct. Progress has reached the same position. It is much easier to visually explain the concept of information services working alongside application (web) services to provide a complete SOA (service-oriented architecture) environment if you use two buses rather than one. At one level (and working downwards) you have web services, legacy applications and so forth connected through the ESB to more generalised web services while those web services connect via the ISB to data services, which themselves are used to extract information from relevant data sources (data or content). Now, both buses use common communications channels, which is the argument in favour of having a single bus. However, the sort of adapters you use to connect to data sources are very different from those used in a typical ESB environment. Further, some implementations may be data-centric while others will be application-centric and, moreover, you can implement one without the other. In particular, an ISB effectively subsumes the role of data integration and, potentially, master data management, which you might easily want to implement separately from either SOA or an ESB. So, I firmly believe that, at least from a logical perspective, it makes more sense to think of a complete SOA environment as consisting of twin buses as opposed to one. However, that's not quite the end of the story. If you think about it, you have services to services integration, data to data integration and services to data integration (or vice versa) and each of these has its own characteristics, so you might actually think of three buses. However, three buses in a single diagram might be considered overkill though you could depict an ‘S’ shaped bus if you wanted to, implying three uses of a single bus. Of course, you could use a sideways ‘U’ for the same purpose with a dual bus structure but again I think these approaches are overly complex—the whole point about SOA is simplification—if you can't depict it in a simple fashion you are defeating the object of the exercise. Of course, we all know that the problem with buses is that you wait for ages for one and then several come along at once. In this particular case I think that two buses is just right: one is too few and three is too many. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com
Philip Howard, 21 Sep 2006

AT&T insources 2,000 jobs

AT&T is to return 2,000 outsourced DSL broadband support jobs, based in the US and overseas, to its payroll, following a union agreement over pay rates. The telco does not say where those call center jobs are currently based or who is losing the outsourcing gigs. And it hasn't decided where in the US it will locate a presumably humungous call center to house its new hires. But we imagine it will be in a low-wage region offering the biggest tax breaks and juiciest construction subsidies. AT&T's Bill Blase, executive veep in charge of labor relations, hailed the company's working relationship with the Communications Workers of America, which has "recognized the mutual importance of creating these jobs with competitive wages and benefits that enhance the company's ability to compete while creating good jobs". AT&T says the jobs will be created by the end of 2008. Press release here. ®
Drew Cullen, 21 Sep 2006

HP starts printing docs for SEC

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) doesn't want to be left out of the Big Dig into HP's spy operations. The agency has broadened its probe of the company, asking for records tied to the resignation of board member Tom Perkins and documents related to HP's already infamous mole hunt. It's lucky that HP is in the printing and imaging business because increased ink revenue and scanner sales are the only good things coming from the spy probe. The California Attorney General's office has been acquiring HP docs, as it gets set to file charges against company employees and third parties HP hired to do its dirty work. Documents are also making their way to Washington with HP executives set to testify before a Congressional committee next week. Incidentally, HP CEO Mark Hurd has offered himself up as a witness for next week's hearings and plans to hold a press conference tomorrow in Palo Alto to discuss the affair. Hurd has suddenly become more vocal after newspapers started to reveal that he likely had deep knowledge of the spy machinations. HP today also disclosed that it has reached an agreement with Perkins and confessed leaker George Keyworth. The parties have agreed not to sue each other, but both of the former directors have reserved the right to sue third parties involved in the spy operations. HP and the directors have also agreed not to disparage each other in the press. Which is nice. As a show of good faith, HP will cover legal costs that the former directors may face as they respond to the various investigations mentioned earlier. Say what you will about HP, the company has proved that it's very good at handling a crisis badly. The debacle, however, is good news for ex-CEO Carly "I'm too sexy for my web site" Fiorina, who has a memoir coming out next month. HP first revealed the spy scandal on Sept. 6 - Fiorina's birthday. Someone is getting the last laugh. ®
Ashlee Vance, 21 Sep 2006