EMC, Intec and SenSage have joined forces to develop what they reckon is a cost effective solution for ISPs and telcos needing to deal with the requirements of the new European directive on data retention. The directive, which has been described by critics as knee-jerk legislation, says communications companies (mobile and fixed line telcos, and ISPs) must retain huge quantities of data about all messages going through their networks. It requires them to keep track of the name, user ID, and address of both the source and destination of the message as well as the date and time of the message, the equipment used and, in the case of a cell phone, the location of the callers. Under the terms of the directive, companies must hang on to this information for at least six months, and up to two years. Any database must also be searchable by the police and must be tamper-proof. EMC and SenSage say their system is capable of managing over 100 billion Call Detail Records (CDR) and will return search results within minutes. They carried out a proof of concept simulation in which they captured two years worth of data for an imaginary telco with 10 million subscribers. The companies say the system executed un-indexed queries at more than 27.9 million records per second and obtained answers in less than seven minutes within a three month search range. The two companies worked with legal eagles in Brussels to make sure their kit can cope with the scope of the regulations, but acknowledge that it is a tricky thing to comply with laws that have yet to be set in stone by member states. SenSage president and CEO Jim Pflaging says he is confident the proposition will find an audience: "For service providers, this is just a cost of doing business. If a company were to use a large data warehouse/relational database solution, it could easily cost $20m to comply. We can provide a solution for between a fifth and a tenth of the cost of the traditional technology." The companies say the solution is commercially available now and can be deployed for a client tomorrow. ®
Five people have been arrested by Kent police in connection with stolen D-Link routers. D-Link warned last week that 7,200 wireless starter kits had been pinched en route to its European logistics company and were being offered for sale online. The kit is worth some £350,000. But on Friday Kent police said they had arrested five men in north and east London over the alleged theft. Two people got in touch with D-Link about the stolen kit after the company made its appeal last week. The company has said it will still honour any support commitments. More details from ZDNet here. Or, if you see suspiciously cheap D-Link routers for sale, check with D-Link here. ®
We're obliged this grey Monday morning to reader Andy Cook for bringing to our attention a delightful piece of spam which brings a whole new meaning to the term "pump and dump": Enough said. Get in there quick before ARSS blows. ®
Some months ago I wrote a feature Securities trading desks adopt IM. It appeared that there was some push for adoption of this medium for transmitting securities orders in the US markets. However, there were a number of technical and regulatory compliance issues to be addressed before IM for transmission of securities orders could gain widespread acceptance. The number of IM service providers for securities orders transmissions is increasing. "IM service providers are extending IM technology, once regarded as a purely recreational PC accessory, into critical enterprise and trading areas on Wall Street. Tools from the likes of AOL, Bloomberg, Google, Jabber, MSN, and Reuters are increasingly being integrated into day-to-day, mission-critical functions." Some IM providers are technology companies; others are US broker dealers, who have developed specialist order transmission services for their end customers as well as to service other brokers and provide additional prime brokerage services to the hedge funds. Many of the IM services revolve around deployment of specialist trading applications using Google, MSN, and Yahoo! networks as well as what seems to have emerged as the principal IM platform provider, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). IM services now have developed a number of requisite features for transmitting orders. Certainly, IM obviates telephone orders and the attendant keying and re-keying of order information into brokers' trade order and management systems. Orders can be viewed all in one IM window, making order management more efficient and reducing its cost. "IM trading with time-stamping and archiving capabilities for compliance can far outweigh other concerns. IM systems can be used for compliance with National Association of Securities Dealers' new order audit trail system (Oats) rules as a substitute for traditional order management system is it can result in cost savings. As a result orders are executed faster." IM services can now translate orders into a FIX protocol message, routing them to brokers' order management systems, trading algorithms or Direct Market Access destinations for equities and options including NYSE, NASDAQ Stock Market venues, and major regional exchanges. IM securities transmission services now have the capability to create, view, amend, receive, and cancel trading order or execution reports. They provide order confirmations, audit trails, and customer information support in the same format. Equally, IM technology can be hosted and accessed via the internet without having to download software or install a server. It can even be used to distribute research to clients. Most customers of IM services continue to be sell-side firms, seeking to increase order flow via IM, which has the ability to reduce execution time by fractions of a second. However, it should be noted that one of the areas where IM has increased in use is in servicing that increasingly anachronistic location - the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the form of transmission of securities orders to the floor of the NYSE. The NYSE will be one of the last major exchanges to move upstairs, when it becomes electronic as part of its reverse take-over of Archipelago. IM has clearly fulfilled a service requirement in handling order transmission flows to the floor of the NYSE on a cost efficient basis. When the NYSE becomes an electronic market (over the next two years?), will this have an impact on IM on Wall Street. Will the NYSE invest in order management systems, which will negate the benefits of IM as part of their proposition to enhance much required improvement in their service offerings? While "instant messaging may be gaining traction on Wall Street", in the UK/Europe research shows there is technical progress in IM but that there continues to be "the traditional prejudices towards IM". Despite the hype over IM a number of technical, security, and regulatory compliance issues remain as challenges to its adoption. This is reinforced by the apparent high number of security threats and violations reported by one provider of IM security and management software. For the financial regulators there remains the possibility that the trader may have access to another IM service, where messages are not recorded and archived. This could lead to so-called "front running of orders". The unlogged orders from the "alternative IM service" could be used to set the best price for the logged orders coming through the authorised and integrated system. Nevertheless, as IM trading services have continued to proliferate, US financial services regulators cannot procrastinate much longer in making some formal statements on policy and practice if, as they have stated, "they remain unsettled about the use of IM services". Until they opine on the deployment of IM, regulatory and compliance risks rather than technology constraints will limit its adoption. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com
Sharp has become the latest laptop maker to ask its customers to return Sony-made notebook batteries. Its recall of some 28,000 power packs came as Fujitsu increased the size of its own battery recall by a further 51,000 units.
The internet is becoming a powerful broadcasting tool for sports organisations and television channels. "New media sportscasting is becoming increasingly important to the sports industry as part of the marketing mix ensuring brand development and introducing new channels for revenue growth," said Darach Deehan, chief executive of Servecast at the Streaming Media Europe conference in London on Thursday. The conference, which is also held annually in the US, addresses how streaming media intersects with the business and content world. The development of broadband has seen significant developments in recent times. In September, the Ryder Cup was broadcast live through Sky Sports' website and earlier in the same month Yahoo! announced a deal with the National Football League (NFL), the governing body of professional American Football in the US, to stream NFL games live online outside of the US. "There continues to be a seismic shift in the world of broadcasting of sports content. The availability of broadband is increasing rapidly, now exceeding cable-TV penetration in most markets. With increased broadband access, fans now expect to be able to easily access sports, news and coverage online wherever they are in the world," said Deehan. "Sports bodies, broadcasters and rights holders can create an intimate relationship with their customers by providing them with an advanced online video environment through which quality sports content, merchandise and news can be consumed, thereby increasing loyalty and ensuring a return on investment," he said. Servecast was founded in 1998 by Kevin Quinn and has provided streaming media for the Tour de France, Six Nations rugby and the UEFA Champions League. The company is based in Dublin with offices in London, Paris and Hamburg and its clients include Sky Sports, Manchester United, and the GAA. Copyright © 2006, ENN
Nvidia's nForce 680i SLI chipset for Intel processors has leaked out online, with a piccy of the part surfacing on a variety of websites. The chipset is expected to target the chip giant's upcoming quad-core processors, the 'Kentsfield' Core 2 Extreme and Core 2 Quad.
University Hospital North Staffordshire has been left with a large hole in its accounts thanks to the failed installation of an iSoft computer system. The multi-million pound deficit occurred because the computer system failed to properly bill primary care trusts for patients the hospital treated.
The world has another ultra-mobile PC design. Japanese vendor PBJ today unveiled its SmartCaddie EX UMPC, though the unit's not due to ship there until early December. The new model is essentially an Intel-based version of the model PBJ launched last April.
Nigerian 419 advance fee fraudsters operating from Amsterdam and Rotterdam have created copies of the websites of express transportation company DHL and Lufthansa Cargo. The idea is to lure victims into paying transportation and advance fees for used motorbikes and cars that are never delivered. Now that many people are familiar with the old style 419 scam - where an email claims to come from a person needing to transfer large sums of money out of the country - the scammers seem to have discovered a whole new way of making a quick buck. Just offer a used Suzuki Katana GSX-600 4500 or a BMZ Z3 Roadster at sites such as Car.com or Autotrader.com for next to nothing and buyers will respond. But often these cars are presently in Spain or another European country, the owner claims, so could the buyer please pay transportation costs? They then recommend the use of escrow services with slick websites that appear legit. Some fake escrows even warn you about internet fraud, or link to the Internet Fraud Complaint Centre. Needless to say, the goods are never delivered. Dutch 419 scam fighter Ultrascan Advanced Global Investigations has issued warnings about dodgy sites promoting DHL Shippers and Lufthansa Worldwide Cargo (as opposed to the real companies, DHL Worldwide Express and Lufthansa Cargo). The Dhl-shippers site was created earlier this month by someone named Angel Andonaire. Lufthansa-Worldwide-Cargo site was registered last month through Microsoft Office Live. Sites such as Carbuyingtips.com claim to have shut down over 600 fake escrow sites already. ®
ExclusiveExclusive HSBC's cash machine service turned on customers this weekend with many people complaining that their accounts were held hostage and others saying ATM boxes ate their cards. The issues also extended to HSBC's credit cards with thousands of people affected, The Register can confirm. Reports of the HSBC failures flooded The Register today. A number of customers shouted that they've been unable to access their accounts for hours. Meanwhile, another HSBC customer tried to use a Halifax cash machine, only to have his card gobbled up. "Since this [Sunday] morning, HSBC cash machines will swallow your card if you aren't a HSBC customer," one reader wrote, who had his card taken on Sunday. "I've spoken to Halifax, and they've contacted HSBC." Halifax did not immediately return our call seeking comment. HSBC, however, did give us a ring. "We had roughly a two hour outage that started after noon yesterday," said HSBC spokesman Richard Lindsay. The mega bank has blamed "a standard server issue" for the problem that blocked a computer from verifying the identities of cardholders. Thousands of ATM and credit card holders were impacted, although the bank refuses to provide a more specific number. "This was a very minor problem," Lindsay said. Not so, according to our readers. "I went to pay for some items in a shop yesterday, but as soon as the assistant saw that I had an HSBC card, she stopped me," writes one reader. "She said they'd had problems processing HSBC cards for a few hours. "Great news if you've just gotten to the front of the queue at Holland & Barretts - those old ladies with their vitamin tablets can get pretty nasty!" "HSBC have had a major technical failure which has resulted in many peoples' cards being declined, and ATM machines unable to contact HSBC in order to verify account balances," adds reader Tim Arnold in Studley. Similar accounts came in from other customers throughout the UK and even one in Japan who could not access his information over the weekend. This issue does not seem to be tied to HSBC's recent identity fraud fright. Earlier this month the bank kicked off a review of some 300,000 accounts to check for evidence of fraud. Close to 27,000 customers have already received notice that their accounts will be clamped shut in 30 days, reports The Times.®
Samsung will tomorrow take the wraps off its HSDPA-enabled SGH-i520 handset, one of the few handsets we've seen coming from the South Korean giant that's based on the Symbian operating system and Nokia's Series 60 (S60) user interface.
One third of big businesses in the UK are failing to make proper plans for their environmental impact, according to the British Standards Institute (BSI). The BSI surveyed 100 budget holders in FTSE 250 companies. It says the vast majority of businesses recognise the importance of the decade-old environmental standard ISO 14001, (94 per cent of those surveyed said they thought the standard would improve their environmental performance). However, almost one in three had yet to put in place a formal plan for minimising their emissions and maximising energy efficiency. Of those that had, the BSI said Rolls-Royce, George Wimpey, and Smiths Group were worthy of special note. Going green is an increasingly good PR move, if nothing else (witness Mr Branson and his alternative energy research spin-off). The BSI says most businesses now understand this. More than half believe a decent environmental plan improves corporate image. But the research also found that a minority (one in 10) also sees a commitment to the environment as something that could improve their bottom line. BSI director Mike Lowe says he is encouraged by the findings. "It is encouraging to see that companies recognise the social and business benefits of going green but we have clearly got some way to go. None of us can afford to wait another 10 years when advice and guidance based on years of business experience is readily available to use now." ®
McDonalds Japan has launched a recall after discovering that MP3 players it offered as a prize were loaded with a particularly nasty strain of malware. Up to 10,000 people might have been exposed to the problem after claiming a Flash MP3 player pre-loaded with ten tunes and a variant of the QQpass spyware Trojan.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is - surprise, surprise - unfazed by Microsoft's would-be iPod killer Zune. Earphone sharing will prove a more potent force for social networking than the iPod rival's much-touted wireless song-sharing feature, he reckons.
The government is considering allowing banks to share data on up to 40 million bank accounts without account holders' permission. The plan is one of four being considered by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). In a move to counter what it calls the UK's over-indebtedness, the DTI wants to share information on 40 million bank accounts to prevent their users borrowing too heavily. It will consult with industry on four plans, two of which involve ordering that debt data be shared. The accounts involved were opened before banks routinely asked permission to share account data with credit reference agencies. Mostly they are accounts opened before the late 1990s. That means there is no permission from users for the sharing of information and these account holders cannot be subject to now-commonplace credit checks on those accounts. "As part of our over-indebtedness strategy we want lenders, where appropriate, to share relevant data about the amount of credit that is available to an individual consumer and their credit use, and to use this information to make responsible lending decisions," said Ian McCartney, Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs in the introduction to the consultation document. "I recognise the current good work of the credit industry in sharing more data and in developing new ways to predict and respond to over-indebtedness through data sharing. This can only help lenders and borrowers alike to minimise levels of bad debt," he said. The document makes four proposals. Two of those involve ordering that data on these accounts be shared. While one of the proposals allows account holders to "opt out" of having their data shared, the other has no such provision, leaving the user with no choice about the sharing of data. The paper is a consultation document and is designed to provide a starting point for consultation with the financial services industry and consumer groups. The paper does say, though, that the DTI's preferred option is so-called option three, which involves ruling all the data available for sharing but allowing customers to opt out of the sharing. That option, said the paper, would require legislative change in order to be legal, it said. That proposal will conflict with existing data protection legislation. "It is clear that the government is seeking to put data sharing of financial details on a statutory footing, but it is unfortunate that the consultation document expresses this intention in terms of "circumventing existing data protection legislation" – the phrase used in connection with option three which is the government preferred option," said Dr Chris Pounder, a data protection specialist with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW. Pounder said the consultation may be seen as window dressing, since it is clear which option the government prefers. "There is a risk that many will see the objective of the consultation exercise as not one of "should we share financial data?" but rather one of gathering evidence to justify an action the government has already decided to take," he said. The DTI says around 40 million bank accounts exist whose data cannot currently be shared. It estimates that 33 million of those are currently active. See: The consultation paper (56 page/55Mb PDF) Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Graphics card maker Sapphire is offering consumers the chance to win big prizes this Halloween, and all they have to do is get their kit off. Yes, Sapphire wants its users to dress up - or maybe that should be dress down, right down - as the nude but tastefully tackle-less bloke seen on its packaging.
The Department for Constitutional Affairs is considering changes to the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act that would make it easier for public sector organisations to refuse requests on grounds of unreasonable cost. The government has hailed the first year of the legislation as a "success". Central government received 34,000 FoI requests in the first year, which it says cost £24.4m to deal with. The wider public sector received at least 87,000 FoI requests. A report from Frontier Economics, commissioned by the government, puts the cost of dealing with these at around £11.1m. FoI legislation says a request may be refused if it would cost more than £600 to source the relevant information. Now, the government wants to see "reading time, consideration time and consultation time" included in the calculation of the fee. Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information said "coming at this early stage in the life of the legislation, it would be a very regrettable step to take...I think you will probably find that half of all the requests that are now being answered will be refused on cost grounds". Similarly, the Select Committee on Constitutional Affairs says in its seventh report that neither requesters of information nor public authorities were in favour of changes to the legislation "at this stage". The select committee concluded that there was no need to change the fees regulations. It wrote: "There appears to be a lack of clarity and some under-use of the existing provisions. We recommend that the DCA publish the results of its internal fees review when it is concluded and that it conducts a public consultation before deciding on any change." Despite this, Lord Falconer, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, said the Act had been a great success: "Freedom of Information has benefited the people - that's what it was intended for and we need to continue to build on its success," he said. "But Freedom of Information has to be balanced with good government. It would be wrong not to make adjustments in light of experience and make sure we get the balance right between the provision of services and the provision of information." You can access the relevent reports here. ®
Not satisfied with creating militants abroad, the US has decided to nurture homegrown government haters. California teenager Julia Wilson has dedicated herself to organising student protests against the Iraq war in an act of retaliation against a firm visit from the Secret Service. US investigators last week pulled the student out of her classroom for questioning about a MySpace page that showed President Bush being stabbed in the hand with the words "Kill Bush" scribbled above the photo. Both Wilson and her parents thought the Secret Service's tactics inappropriate. "I wasn't dangerous," honours student Wilson told the AP. "I mean, look at what's (stenciled) on my backpack — it's a heart. I'm a very peace-loving person. I'm against the war in Iraq. I'm not going to kill the president." According to reports, the Secret Service agents – apparently huge MySpace fans – first stopped by the 14-year-old's house (naturally, they would assume that she was a delinquent). The agents contacted Wilson's mother and then promised to return later when they could interview the lass along with her parents. Instead, the agents stormed Wilson's school in Northern California and grilled her for 15 minutes. "They yelled at me a lot," she told the newswire. "They were unnecessarily mean." The agents also threatened to haul Wilson off to juvenile hall. Class acts. Both Wilson and her parents conceded that the Secret Service agents were right to look into the matter, as threatening the President is illegal. They, however, thought the deception and verbal rough-up to be over the line. Wilson now plans to create a new MySpace page to help students organise protests against the Iraq war. ®
Here's a Monday afternoon poser: what's the difference between www.murder.ie and www.porn.ie? Well, according to the owner of sex.ie, the former is an acceptable domain name according to the IE Domain Registry's naming policy, while the latter is proscribed under said policy's validity guidelines. Specifically, the rules state: "The proposed domain name must not be offensive or contrary to public policy or generally accepted principles of morality." Accordingly, the IE Domain Registry has blocked repeated attempts by sex.ie to acquire porn.ie. The disgruntled applicant explains: For quite a while now, I've been trying to register the domain "Porn.ie". I've been rejected each time because - according to the IE Domain Registry - the word "porn" is offensive and immoral. To get around this I tried to register "porn" as a business name, but alas, the Companies Registration Office think "porn" is an offensive word. Just so we're clear here, they aren't saying the act of porn is offensive or immoral, they're saying the word is. This baffles me for a number of reasons. How is a word immoral? The act of rape is immoral, but the word "rape" isn't. The act of murder is immoral, but the word "murder" isn't. Why doesn't this logic apply to porn, whether or not they think porn is immoral? Cue Slashdot's take on the matter, which kicks off thus: "Porn.ie is a poor example, since pornography has been a strict superset of free speech since the 1960's; how about: juden-raus.ie? juden-raus.ie, I suspect, would convert many here into willing censors." Yup, the keen-eyed among you will have spotted the main debating point here. Strict superset? Oh dear, oh dear: If pornography was a superset of free speech, strict or otherwise, then all free speech would be porn. What you mean is that porn is not a subset of free speech. But I think in Ireland, which is fairly conservative IIRC, it might actually be a disjoint set to free speech. At this point, we decided we didn't give a tinker's cuss about immoral Irish domain names, but in the interests of something approaching journalism, went and sniffed around a few potential "offensive or immoral" crowd pleasers. Take, for example, poguemahone.ie, which is currently "not registered within the IE Zone". Neither does bollox.ie register on the IEDR radar, which, since both are highly desirable URLS, leads us to suspect they may have been blocked. There is, however, hope for Irish civil libertarians and professional pornographers in the form of feck.ie, which we reckon is a pretty good substitute for porn.ie. ® Bootnote Other domains "not registered within the IE Zone" include milf.ie, cock.ie, pussy.ie and cumslurpingstrumpets.ie, a fact which leads us to wearily concede the IEDR really does take this porn thing rather seriously. For the record, the sex.ie bloke is right about murder.ie, but no-one to date has taken it upon themselves to register rape.ie.
As if Apple's iPod Socks didn't provide sufficient snigger material, along comes new UK online retailer MP3 Additions with line in digital music player pockets it calls the "Burning Love Pouch". It claims they're the "most original and funky iPod holders on the market today".
Belgian politico Michel Daerden has become an overnight net celeb after YouTubers flocked to enjoy footage of him either completely rat-arsed or suffering the effects of "a psychomotor disorder" during an interview with French-language broadcaster RTBF. French-speaking socialist party member Daerden hit the small screen last Sunday following his local election victory in the Liège suburb of Ans. He's a very happy man, as you can see here, leading to the unkind suggestion that his post-poll celebration may have been a little too robust. Not so, says Daerden, who attributes his performance to the aforementioned psychomotor disorder, explaining: "I often talk slowly and make gestures. I am left-handed and have dyslexia. That's why I talk slowly." We're delighted to report that two Reg hacks who disappeared from the office a couple of hours back and have just returned apparently the worse for wear, insist their impaired motor function and inability to speak coherently is due not to having quaffed sixteen pints in the local boozer, but rather because they're left-handed. ®
More Brits than ever are placing themselves at risk of identity fraud, despite awareness campaigns warning them of the dangers. Organisers of the second National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, which begins on Monday, hope their educational campaign will finally get the message across. The campaign, backed by the Metropolitan Police, Crimestoppers, The Identity and Passport Service, CIFAS - The UK's Fraud Prevention Service - Fellowes, the Federation of Small Businesses, and various credit reference agencies, aim to put a stop to the British public's complacency. Bin-raiding research commissioned by Fellowes for the campaign revealed that 97 per cent of households, representing over 21 million homes in the UK, regularly dump material stating their full name, address, and postcode. While a failure not to shred all items of junk mail might be understandable, three in 10 throw away bills and other information that exposes either their credit or debit card numbers. Meanwhile, 46 per cent put items that contained their bank account number and sort code in the bin, rather than destroying it more securely. The researchers concluded that nearly half (48 per cent) of households had insecurely discarded documents that would give everything a fraudster would need to steal a person's identity. Exposure to the problem from information carefully discarded in rubbish bins is 20 per cent up on that found during similar research carried out by the campaign last year. The latest study revealed that not everyone in the same household behaves in the same careless way. As part of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, Professor Martin Gill, an academic and expert in identity fraud, looked at offender and victim perspectives on the problem. Offenders in this study adopted a range of approaches to commit identity fraud using paper-based documents including stealing information from dustbins; swiping post; impersonating the dead, using birth certificates of the deceased; stealing personal documents as part of other crimes, for example, burglaries and street theft; and redirecting post to obtain people's personal details. Stolen documents were vital for crooks in tricking credit card companies or banks into opening bogus credit card or bank accounts. Reducing the opportunities to commit paper-based identity fraud should involve raising public awareness of the issue and countermeasures - such as shredding documents containing personal details and regularly checking bank statements for suspicious transactions. More stringent procedures by credit providers and similar organisations when verifying applications are also needed, the study concluded. Victims of identity fraud often experience problems reclaiming their identity and sorting out the mess fraudsters have made of their finances. Identities stolen using paper documents or online can be used to perpetrate ID theft, one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK. Ultimately, we all pay for the problem as bank and credit firms pass on the cost of fraud through higher fees. As part of a drive designed to spread public awareness about the dangers of ID theft, the campaign has set up a website, stop-idfraud.co.uk, which includes tips on how to defend yourself against the threat. The site also features a fun-filled "how at risk you are" test. ®
Lap Shun Hui has scored a success in his battle to collect the great PC brands of yesteryear by buying Packard Bell from NEC.
Savouring the broad and bold nature of the US patent system, Cisco appears to have received the rights to the "triple threat".
It has been brought to our attention that we have failed to cast our usual withering scorn on the news that Reuters has assigned a full-time reporter to Second Life, the alternative universe in which people can live out their dreams of being a furry penis. Or something like that. Perhaps we misunderstood. We do like to keep you happy, and as you know would ordinarily leap upon something like this and tear small strips from it with our vulturey beaks. But, gentle readers, some things are beyond parody. Accordingly, we shall make no further mention of the poor Reuters hack, not even to wonder what on Earth he must have done to upset his masters so much that they felt the need to assign him to cover the Second Lifers. The poor man has even had to change his name from Adam Pasick to Adam Reuter. Surely a punishment even worse than being sent to write obituaries in Crewe. (His rather uninformative calendar can be found here.) Nor shall we spend any time speculating about how long it will be before Second Life spawns its own PR community, dedicated to fattening up the Reuters hack's avatar with such frequent and extended lunches he is unable to actually file any copy. No. Instead, we will reassure you that this news has had us shouting at our screens all day. So far, our best suggestion is that the Associated Press should buy Second Life. Still, you may be interested to know that Second Life already has its own newspaper, the incomprehensible Second Life Herald, whose Pixeleen Mistral broke the news of Adam's appointment here. Meanwhile, fawning Second Life publicist Daniel Terdiman has convinced his employer CNET to create a virtual TV station in Sadville, er Second Life. Terdiman, who boasts a reference from Linden Labs CEO Phil Roseville on his resume, explained that his management had been slow to "get" Second Life at first, but his obsessive coverage (four stories in the first few weeks on the job) had browbeaten them into it. Clearly, Reuters has done such a good job holding our corporate and state deceivers to account, it's declared the job done, and can safely move onto trivia. And furry dicks. ®
McData plans to shell out more than $1m to keep its current CEO once the company links up with fellow storage switch maker Brocade. In a regulatory filing last week, McData revealed that CEO John Kelley will receive a handsome $1.1m payout to stay loyal to BroData. To receive the full lump, Kelley must agree to certain terms, including remaining at the merged firm for six months. Others receiving similar, lucrative offers include COO Todd Oseth ($740,000), CFO Scott Berman ($570,000) and SVP of engineering Mike Frendo ($500,000). The US FTC is still looking into Brocade's proposed $700m buy of McData. The merged company hopes to pummel Cisco in the market for Fibre Channel switches. ®
The final version of Firefox 2 isn't available for download yet, but developers at Mozilla are already asking the community for suggestions on features they'd like to see included in the next version of the browser, Firefox 3.0. Mozilla has established a "feature brainstorming" wiki where users can post a wish-list of hoped-for features. Requests are been divided into categories such as browser customisation, enhanced privacy, security, improvements to Firefox's download manager and many other areas. Ars Technica reports that improved customisation - such as draggable tabs and the ability to add tags to web pages - feature heavily on the lists. Most of the requests would add to the size of the browser while introducing new features. One poster, however, takes the opposite line, expressing the desire for optional downloads of a low-footprint browser capable of rendering websites quickly on even low-powered PCs. How many of these features will wind up been included in the final release of the browser remains anybody's guess. But at least Mozilla's site allows people to get their voices heard while potentially giving its developers some useful pointers to the features users, as opposed to coders, would like to see included in the browser. Development work on the next-generation browser has already begun and adventurous surfers can download alpha builds for review (FTP site here). Meanwhile, Mozilla is edging towards the delayed delivery of Firefox 2.0, which boasts a raft of new features including an integrated in-line spell checker, as well as an anti-phishing tool, tightly-integrated search, and improvements in tabbed browsing. Mozilla published the "almost ready" Release Candidate 1 version of the browser on 26 September, with further release candidates due to be published later this month. It has yet to say when the final version of the much-anticipated browser will ship. ®
Wall Street continues to drool over the idea of Oracle producing its own line of Linux software for reasons unclear to us. Last week, Jeffries & Co analyst Katherine Egbert fired off a research note, claiming that "our independent checks in the past two weeks indicate that Oracle seems to be close to introducing its own software 'stack'." Rumours have floated for ages that Oracle will craft a Larry Ellison version of Linux to complement its database and other assorted middleware. Such a move would back up CEO Ellison's near constant Red Hat bashing. Ultimately, however, Oracle Linux would be more of a muscle flexing exercise than anything else. The only way to make money off Linux is via services, and Oracle can provide plenty of those whether or not it sells an operating system. Beyond that, Oracle would get closer to stepping on the toes of some of its partners by encroaching on the Linux realm. The analyst's wild speculation appeared to motivate a seven per cent slide in Red Hat shares last Friday. Were Oracle to reveal the OS plans, it may do so at the upcoming OpenWorld (22-26 October) event. And, in the end, Ellison may approve a Linux distribution whether or not it makes business sense. "I don't see how we could possibly buy Red Hat," Ellison said in an interview earlier this year. "I'm not going to spend $5bn, or $6bn, for something that can just be so completely wiped off the map." Later, he added: "I'd like to have a complete stack. We're missing an operating system. You could argue that it makes a lot of sense for us to look at distributing and supporting Linux." We're not sure you'll ever have a complete stack, Larry. ®
Microsoft has agreed to release more technical information to security companies so they can make their products work with Vista, Microsoft's next operating system due early next year. Microsoft earlier said it had already released APIs - the information software developers need to make products which will interoperate with Vista. Speaking in Italy, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told Reuters the information would be released later today - "Seattle time, not Rome time." Presumably, Microsoft's change of heart has to do with recent discussions with the European Commission which led to Ballmer promising last week that Vista would ship in Europe and Korea - that the company had done enough to satisfy anti-trust regulators. For its part the commission pointedly said it was not "green-lighting" the launch. McAfee and other security companies have accused Microsoft of deliberately locking out security rivals. McAfee took out full-page adverts in The FT to complain about Microsoft's actions and has also complained to the EC. Security firms are not commenting until they see the actual APIs the software giant is prepared to release. More from Reuters here. In related news, the European Commission told Adobe it should go and talk to Microsoft if it wants to know what changes have been made to Vista. Adobe has expressed concern about the "save as pdf" feature. Microsoft agreed on Friday to make certain changes to satisfy EC regulators. ®
Two high profile Swedish ministers have resigned from office over allegations of tax evasion, and bizarrely, failure to pay their TV licences. Swedish Culture Minister Cecilia Stego Chilo resigned on Monday, following Trade Minister Maria Borelius's resignation last week. The resignations come just days after the new four-party government took office. Borelius stepped down amid allegations of tax evasion, while Minister Chilo was accused of having not paid her TV licence for 16 years. In related news, the Pirate Party, running on a pledge to reform copyright law and abolish the patent system, didn't do as well as it had hoped in the Swedish elections, managing to poll less than one per cent of the popular vote. ®
AnalysisAnalysis Just when we all got comfortable with the idea of Islamofascists bringing down the curtain on humanity's dominion over the Earth, those wacky North Koreans come along and put everyone's pet Apocalyptic theories into disarray. And boy, is it getting complicated: we've got people trying to blow up airplanes with KY jelly and Gatorade; we've got Iran doing the nuke walk and thumbing its nose at us; meanwhile, we're knee-deep in sexual predators, insurgents, rogue states, terrorists, and whack-job wannabes. It's difficult to know who we're supposed to be terrified of any more.
A meeting of EU interior ministers held in August in the wake of the 'liquid bomb plot' arrests called for the acceleration of European plans to tackle terrorism, and as part of these, for measures to "tackle the use of the Internet by terrorists to radicalise young people, spread messages of hate and plan mass murder" (see Home Office announcement). Ah yes, but how? Speaking after the meeting Franco Frattini, Justice & Home Affairs Commissioner, said that the Internet should be made a "hostile environment" for terrorists. "I think it's very important to explore further possibilities of blocking websites that incite to commit terrorist actions," The Times reported. Yes Franco, but how do you propose to do that, exactly? Or even approximately? After the August meeting Spy Blog wrote to Frattini asking for details of what he was proposing, and putting forward a detailed list of 17 questions covering consultation, mechanisms, definitions, distinctions and safeguards. Spy Blog now has a response from Jonathan Faull, EU Commission Director General for Justice, Freedom and Security, but although lengthy, the document sheds little or no light on the matter. Essentially, the Commission seems to know approximately what it wants to do, to have barely the vaguest of notions how to go about doing it, but to be exceedingly keen to assure people that it won't do anything that is in conflict with the principles of the European Union. Take question one, for example, "Are you proposing a European Union version of the national level firewall content filtering and censorware software such as is used in the 'Great firewall of China' or in Saudi Arabia and other repressive regimes?" Faull responds with a refrain that will become tedious well before question 17. "At such an early stage of our consultations it would be premature to speak about a specific solution... [so ominously, perhaps we're not altogether ruling that one out]... the European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. In consequence, policy options undermining such principles will be necessarily ruled out." Relieved? We know we were. So even if Europe does build a Great Firewall it won't be one that undermines our basic principles, right... Question two then, "Are you proposing to ban websites in the United States of America, such as Yahoo Groups of the Google search engine cache? This is where the vast majority of home made bomb making instructions are written and published on the Internet?" A good question, says Faull, confirming that much of the material in question is hosted outside of European jurisdiction, and adding that "a particular web site may contain both legitimate content and content aiding or abetting terrorism. Such factors will be considered as part of our consultation process." So we can put that one down as a 'don't know', then. How will they differentiate between research for scientific and terrorist purposes? What will they do to stop blocked sites immediately popping up elsewhere, how will they make sure they get the right sites, and only the right sites, who will pay for mistakes, and how much will it all cost? Faull, ever so politely, has coherent answers to none of these questions, and more, but then "we are still at the early stage of a the beginning of consultations and it would be premature to speak about a specific solution," and of course as "we are still considering legislative and non legislative options, we cannot speak about a specific option." Much more, or should we say less, at Spy Blog. We particularly commend the answer covering the precise definition of terrorism, set down confusingly here (some might suggest certain Governments could fall victim to (d)-(i) of Article 1), but subject to the "current reflection and consultation exercise [which] will consider whether a modification of such articles is actually required". So it's precise and set down, but fluid. Perhaps. Note however that the decidedly vague nature of the Commission's planning does not necessarily mean it is not starting to happen anyway. The Internet has figured increasingly prominently in recent UK anti-terror legislation and investigations, and the Justice & Home Affairs Ministers are likely to continue to move the agenda on, with or without the Commission's consultations. ®
Mark Cuban was labelled a "Cassandra" for his skepticism about Google's takeover of revenue-free video sharing site YouTube. But the thing about Cassandra that people often forget, is that Cassandra was right. Cuban's skepticism looks a lot more justified today. The Wall Street Journal reports that a group of the largest media companies are co-ordinating their negotiations with the copyright-busting site. General Electric (which owns NBC and Viacom), Rupert Murdoch's News International and others are pooling their litigation efforts. The Journal reports that Time Warner isn't a member of the group, but it's just as keen to ensure there's a settlement in its favour. "You can assume we're in negotiations with YouTube and that those negotiations will be kicked up to the Google level in the hope that we can get to some acceptable position," Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons said last week. YouTube has evaded such intention, because with zero revenues it hasn't been worth pursuing. Now YouTube's dilemma looks like this. The only way Google can justify the $1.65bn acquisition is because YouTube currently has a lot of traffic. Large volumes, it argues, should eventually be monetised successfully...er, somehow. But YouTube only has a lot of traffic because of this copyright-breaching content, most of which it's carrying illegally. By contrast, the much vaunted market for "user generated content" will be a paltry $850m by 2010, Faultline reported here on Friday. All of which means that Google writes off its acquisition as a white elephant, or it strikes a deal. There's no other option. So all roads lead inexorably to negotiations with the media owners - on terms that Google can't set. Did Google's lawyers really perform due diligence on this acquisition? ®
Valley JusticeValley Justice Google's intention to drive advertising profits through the acquisition of this year's hottest web property may actually be the move that ends up killing the golden GooTube.
Who makes the most reliable computers? Lenovo, closely followed by Apple, if you believe online service and support company Rescuecom's latest reliability audit, derived from more than 20,000 calls made by the firm's customers during the second quarter this year.
McAfee, the US security software firm, has stumped up $20m cash for Onigma, a developer of data theft monitoring software. This will form the basis of McAfee Data Loss Prevention, a new host-based service helping enterprises to spy on staff and contractors in case they leak company info or indulge in some intellectual property theft jiggery-pokery. Also the service will help customers meet regulatory requirements for compliance and data protection, Onigma says. This help with the federal form-filling does not appear to extend to stock option declarations. You want more on McAfee's new service? For canned quotes, turn this way. ®
The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart has failed in its attempt to gain control of the web address boycottwalmart.com. An arbitration panel has ruled that it was unlikely that visitors would be confused and think that it was a Wal-Mart site. Domain name disputes are settled by the arbitration panel of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). That body has ruled that Wal-Mart cannot have control of the disputed domain. The domain is controlled by Traffic Yoon of South Korea, a company which put up no defence in the case. Wal-Mart argued that the domain name was "confusingly similar" to its own addresses, which is not permitted. "Since [Wal-Mart's] mark is embedded in the disputed domain name, it is hard to say there is no similarity, but finding that the disputed domain name is similar to the Complainant’s marks is not sufficient," said the WIPO decision. "The critical question in this Panel’s view on this aspect of the Policy is whether the similarity is “confusing”." "The Complainant has argued that formulating a domain name by adding a derogatory term to a trade mark always results in a domain name that must be seen as confusingly similar to the trade mark," said the panel. "A domain name which combines a disparaging or critical term with a trademark may well be confusingly similar to the trademark, but not always. This panel considers that confusing similarity will be established where those persons who are mostly likely to want to access a complainant’s website will be confused as to whether the complainant is the owner and operator of the website to which the disputed domain name resolves." The panel ruled that Wal-Mart's case could not stand because nobody finding the website boycottwalmart.com would imagine that the site belonged to the retailer. "This panel is of the view that members of the public wishing to find a website associated with the Complainant would not be confused as to whether the Complainant owned or operated the website at 'www.boycottwalmart.com'," said its decision. "It would be perfectly clear to anyone who recognized the Complainant’s trademarks that the disputed domain name would not resolve to a site used by the Complainant to promote its own goods or services." "Accordingly, the Panel finds that 'boycottwalmart.com' is neither identical nor confusingly similar to the trademark “Wal-mart” nor any proven variants of that mark," it ruled. Other decisions had ruled that the inclusion of a trademark in a name always made for confusing similarity or that the inclusion of a derogatory term such as 'boycott' always meant that the site could not be counted as being confusingly similar. Sole panellist Philip Argy said that neither approach should be taken and that cases should be judged on their own merits. Argy's decision does provide some clarification but because precedents do not hold sway in the arbitration process it does not guarantee that other panels will follow the same rules. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
TomTom, the Dutch navigation specialist, is taking US rival Garmin to court in The Hague on Thursday. The company claims that Garmin is copying the look and feel of its GPS based portable navigation systems.
Hats off to Kevin Poulsen for one of the best articles in tech journalism you will read this year. The one-time hacker extraordinaire, and now senior editor at Wired, combined investigative reporting and code-writing skills to collar a predatory pedophile reaching out to teenage boys through MySpace. Andrew Lubrano, a 39 year-old father of five, was arrested at his Long Island home by NY Suffolk County Police, and is currently held on bail. He is one of 744 registered sex offenders with profiles on the social networking site discovered by Kevin Poulsen. Armed with nothing more than a self-written Perl script, Poulsen compared MySpace membership with a roll-call of 385,932 registered sex offenders in 46 states to compile the list - a task that MySpace said was impossible. As Poulsen notes, his search "is only going to produce people who use their real names and addresses, and who are perhaps the least likely of the offenders to be up to no good'" Current or future predators will be more likely to disguise their identity. Wired News will publish Poulsen's code under an open-source license this week. You don't have to wait that long for Poulsen's article: it's here. ®
Samsung has reported a 16 per cent increase in profits for the third quarter of 2006 compared with the same period in 2005. The Korean electronics giant posted net profit of 2.19 trillion won (€1.83bn) for the three months ending 30 September. This is far higher than analysts' expectations of a net profit of 1.89 trillion won (€1.58bn). Sales rose 4.7 per cent to 15.22 trillion won (€12.73bn) but operating profit was down 13 per cent on Q3, 2005 to 1.85 trillion won (€1.54bn). Sales in the firm's semiconductor business reached 4.91 trillion won (€4.1bn), seven per cent up on same time last year, while memory chip sales rose five per cent. Samsung shipped 30.7 million mobile phones, a quarterly record and 4.4 million more units higher than in Q2. Samsung is launching a new "super 3G" handset on Tuesday aimed at the European market. The SGH-i520 has a 2.3 inch display with a two megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0 and can be connected to a PC using USB 2.0. These results mark the company's third profit gain in the past four quarters. Samsung has increased its estimated capital investment plan for 2006 to 10.24 trillion won (€8.56bn), an increase of 10.9 per cent on previous estimates. News of the results and the increased investment received a positive reaction on the Korean stock exchange with the KOSPI index rising one per cent. "Our strategy of producing high performance, differentiated products into multiple end markets allowed us to power ahead and deliver solid third quarter results amid a challenging market environment of the information-technology sector," said Dr Woosik Chu, senior vice president and head of Samsung Electronics' investor-relations team. "We anticipate our key business units to experience significant tailwinds in the fourth quarter, a seasonally strong period. Furthermore, our plan to invest an additional 1 trillion won (€830 million) to increase capacity of our memory-chip business is expected to create revenue opportunities next year," he said. Copyright © 2006, ENN