6th > December > 2006 Archive
Investors who argue that AMD should sell off its ATI discrete graphics operation will take heart from market research published today which shows the chip maker's GPU division saw its market share fall in all segments during Q3.
No, it's not Apple's next-generation iPod Shuffle, but add-on maker Buffalo's latest mouse, a slimline 8mm-thick rodent with an iPod-style scrollwheel in place of the more usual vertically placed rotary control. The wheel rotates to control a window's vertical scroll bar, but pressing the left or right edges scrolls horizontally in that direction.
IBM has announced its Rational Software Delivery Platform 7.0 for desktops, to help developers design and deliver service oriented architectures (SOAs). The platform features a set of Eclipse-based offerings and best practices to help in the management and delivery of systems in a distributed environment. It wraps up and updates 11 Rational offerings, and focuses on improvements in architectural design and automated delivery of applications and services. Accompanying the platform was support from 11 IBM partners spanning quality management, systems development, and governance. Offerings have been validated under the Ready for IBM Rational program and complement server-side Rational products, such as ClearQuest 7.0. Included in Software Delivery Platform 7.0 are Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software, Software Architect, Software Modeler, Systems Developer, and Functional Tester. Rational's Unified Process (RUP) has also been extended to bring a controlled, process-oriented approach to design and management of SOAs. RUP for SOMA (Service Oriented Modeling Architecture) assists in design, while a Rational Method Composer SOA plug-in will enable RUP to be used in the SOA governance structure. ®
Yahoo!'s chief operating officer Daniel Rosenweig and entertainment group head Lloyd Braun are both leaving the company. Yahoo! is splitting into three segments to try and improve, and speed up, decision making. The new divisions will be an audience division, advertiser and publisher group, and technology team. The appointments are effective from 1 January, but Rosenweig will leave in March next year to ensure a smooth handover. The audience division will aim to increase the number of people using Yahoo! services. The company is still looking for someone to run that division. An advertiser and publisher group will look for ways to improve how Yahoo! sells ads to agencies and big advertisers. This division will be run by Susan Decker who has been Yahoo!'s chief financial officer since 2000. She will continue to act as CFO until a replacement can be found and is presumably being considered for the top job when Semel leaves. Finally, there will be a technology division run by current CIO Farzed Nazem. It will carry on supporting the whole group but will also be responsible for "Project Panama" - the company's new advertising platform. Yahoo! chief executive officer Terry Semel said: "We're putting the right people in the right places to execute our focused growth strategy. Yahoo! has an extraordinarily skilled and experienced group of senior executives, and we're adding outside senior talent to this already strong team." Yahoo! has long been criticised for failing to make enough money from its huge audience and from not buying into Bubble 2.0 companies such as Facebook and MySpace. A recent leaked memo said the company was spreading its peanut butter too thinly - offering too many services and a lack of focus. The company hopes to complete the reorganisation by the end of the first quarter of 2007. Yahoo!'s press release is here. ®
ICSTIS, the UK's premium-rate regulator, has launched a site to explain to children how premium-rate services operate, and how to avoid being ripped off. It is also publishing an updated code of practice, which will come in to force next year. PhoneBrain was set up to encourage children to use their brain before they use their phone. The site has much the same information on it as the normal ICSTIS site, though with funky colours, friendly fonts, and the occasional use of youth-speak to stay hip to the scene. The launch of PhoneBrain coincides with the latest version of the ICSTIS Code of Practice, version 11, along with explanatory notes. The code now recognises the concept of an Information Provider, which may be separate from a network operator, and introduces some additional sanctions which can be taken against those failing to comply with rulings. VoIP providers are also now recognised, and regulated, should they be providing premium services. The update is mainly concerned with recognising how the industry has evolved in recent years, and ensuring the ISCTIS can maintain what has, so far, been generally effective regulation. ®
Nvidia has extended its family of Quadro FX workstation-class mobile graphics chips and already begun supplying the part - the 3500M - to Dell for the PC giant's Precision M90 notebook, the chip maker said yesterday.
This has to be one of the daftest USB gadgets we've come across: the Secret Base Emergency Button. Plug it in, press the top to open the shutter and reveal the red emergency key, hit that and... your PC shuts down. Yes, but it's the way it shuts down that matters.
Ninety-seven per cent of websites fail to achieve a minimum level of accessibility, according to the first ever global web accessibility survey. A new UN convention aims to change that. UK-based web accessibility agency Nomensa released its report today based on research commissioned by the United Nations. Using a combination of manual and automated testing against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Nomensa examined the leading website in five different sectors in 20 countries, including its Head of State and leading airline, bank, newspaper and retailer. In all, the survey tested 100 websites. Only the websites of the German Chancellor, the Spanish Government and the British Prime Minister met WCAG Level A, the minimum recognised level. No site met Level AA or higher. "Performance across the different sectors was varied, with central government, retail and banking offering the strongest accessibility performances across all countries," said Simon Norris, managing director of Nomensa. "While only three websites made it onto the first rung of the accessibility ladder, many websites were in grasping distance of achieving minimum levels of accessibility." Sites from Australia, Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa and the United States were among the others examined. Sunday was the UN International Day of Disabled Persons, this year dubbed E-Accessibility Day. Secretary General Kofi Annan said the day "reminds us of the need to make the internet available to everyone". "Slowly, governments and the private sector have been recognising the economic and social benefits of making websites fully accessible, and have been putting place changes involving software and hardware alike," he said in a statement. "The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is expected to be approved by the General Assembly later this month, can give additional impetus to this trend." The Convention specifies that measures should be introduced to eliminate obstacles and barriers to information and communications, and to promote access for persons with disabilities to information and communications technologies, including the internet. States that choose to become party to the Convention will commit themselves to taking steps to provide "information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost." The Convention urges private businesses and mass media to do the same with their services. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Anti-Virus vendors Carmen Maierean (BitDefender product manager): Microsoft Vista from a security standpoint is above Microsoft XP mainly because of the new rights management system which will prevent unauthorised applications from running with administrator privileges. Nevertheless, the customer has to take in consideration that the newly developed operating system will not protect him from malware and hackers and a proper integrated security solution is required. BitDefender is working on a new version that will support Microsoft Vista and plans to ship it at the beginning of the next year.
The world’s insatiable appetite for storing compliance data, viral emails and jpegs of Britney helped the external storage market boost revenues another 7 per cent in the third quarter. Total external controller-based disk storage revenues hit $3.7bn in the third quarter, Gartner said yesterday. EMC took the top spot, surprise surprise, with sales up 17.54 per cent, giving it 25.5 per cent on the market. IBM grew sales 17.0 per cent to take 14.8 per cent of the market. Hewlett Packard’s sales spun backwards, dropping 11.9 per cent and taking 12.7 per cent of the market. Hitachi HDS was in fourth place with 10.8 per cent of the market. In joint fifth place, Dell took 7.3 per cent. However, the biggest growth was shown by NetApp which saw revenues up 20.4 per cent, giving it equal footing with Dell. Gartner flagged up an increase in the sale of add-on capacity as well as new units. It put this down to a rush to comply with the US’ Sarbanes Oxley legislation.®
A new study from AirMagnet has demonstrated that Wi-Fi signal strength can drop by up to 25 per cent when seasonal decorations are in place. Shiny baubles can reflect wireless networking signals, while flashing lights generate all sorts of interference. Sticking to the traditional holly and ivy won't do you any good either, as plants are notorious for blocking the 2.4GHz signal Wi-Fi relies upon. Carrying out a full wireless survey or network analysis might be overkill, but AirMagnet recommends that signal degradation can often be mitigated just by moving decorations away from access points, and remembering that every barrier between access point and user will lead to a weaker signal. Here at Vulture Central we're taking no risks. If it's a choice between network comms or seasonal cheer, we know were our priorities lie, and bar humbug to anyone who says different. See you at the pub. ®
Quocirca's changing channelsQuocirca's changing channels If you're an independent software vendor (ISV) and concerned that you are about to miss the software as a service (SaaS) bandwagon, rest assured there is no shortage of organisations out there ready to lend a hand.
Microsoft has warned of a serious - and as yet unpatched vulnerability - in Word. Hackers (albeit to a limited extent) are exploiting the zero-day flaw in its ubiquitous Office application, Redmond warns. The flaw - which stems from an unspecified memory corruption bug - doesn't just affect Windows users. Microsoft Word 2000, Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Word Viewer 2003, Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac, and Microsoft Word 2004 v. X for Mac, along with Microsoft Works 2004, 2005, and 2006 are all potentially vulnerable. Users tricked into opening maliciously constructed Word files are liable to find their systems compromised. Pending the availability of a security fix, Microsoft advises users "not [to] open or save Word files that you receive from untrusted sources or that you receive unexpectedly from trusted sources" (our emphasis)". This unusually strongly-worded advice amounts to using Word only to create files yourself, and confining content to local area networks, at least until the next scheduled Patch Tuesday on 12 December. ®
What has smart-phone seller i-mate got on its product roadmap for the coming months? According to a copy of what's said to the supplier's near-term release schedule, it has a number of interesting handsets in the pipeline, including a slick, black clamshell communicator, the K-Jar.
Passengers booked on one of two flights out of Heathrow will be able to skip queues if they hand over fingerprint and other biometric data. The trial only lasts until 31 January and only includes two flights out of Heathrow - one to Hong Kong and the other to Dubai. It is only open to residents of the European Economic Area and applicants to the scheme will need UK background checks. Although the scheme officially launches today, and won't be actually working from Dubai until 11 December, our security expert John Lettice got early wind of it. His story and analysis is here. ®
Top marks to accessory maker Incipio for coming up with a handy adaptor that will allow anyone who owns a second-generation iPod Shuffle to take it travelling without Apple's dock and cables. Dubbed the Bud, the adaptor has a USB port on one end and a special 3.5mm jack on the other ready for data transfer and recharging.
ReviewReview With the advent of Intel's Core 2 Duo processors we're at last beginning to see the kind of power and portability that was being claimed, somewhat optimistically, back in the early days of notebook computing. Not one to miss out, Dell has rolled out its Core 2 Duo based Inspiron 6400...
A long-term study, carried out by the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Denmark and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, has found no increased incidence of cancer among mobile phone users.
BT may only have a couple of hundred Welsh people connected to its 21st Century Network, but that hasn't stopped the telco trying to flog its "transformation" expertise to other telcos worldwide. BT has unveiled its 21C Global Venture business unit, which will pull together the experience it has gained developing its new IP network, and try and sell it to other, more backward, telcos. These will be sold under three main banners: BT 21CN Consultancy Services; BT 21CN Build Services; and BT 21CN Managed Services. The company has already struck a deal with Turk Telekom and reckons the total market for next generation network services will be worth around $38bn over the next five years. BT has spent the last couple of years trumpeting the overhaul of its venerable PSTN UK network into an all IP-based 21st century telecoms dream machine. The total bill for the overhaul is set to hit £10bn. So far, the reality is slightly more prosaic. To date, it has overhauled 10 per cent of the UK's core telecoms infrastructure, with new kit in over 100 exchanges. It has laid more more than 2,300km of optical fibre around South Wales. This amounts to 100 voice lines, although it plans to switch on another 350,000 Cardiff-area lines over to 21CN between now and next summer ®
A development tools maker is suing Sun Microsystems, alleging its StorageTek arm has infringed its copyright and defrauded it through misrepresentations in negotiations aimed at settling the dispute. California-based Netbula filed a suit in US district court in Oakland saying StorageTek's LibAttatch software infringes the firm's core technology. Netbula makes PowerRPC, a server development tool for Windows, UNIX and java platforms. Netbula said in a statement: "We have tried exhaustively to resolve this dispute with SUN in accordance with our licensing terms. Unfortunately, when faced with undeniable facts of unlawful and fraudulent conduct committed by StorageTek, SUN resorted to attempts to intimidate Netbula into forgoing its legal rights." Netbula licensed StorageTek to use its technology when it was a standalone company in 2000. The complaint alleges contact from Sun after the licence expired requesting updates showed it was still being used but not paid for. The privately-held company is seeking damages, a restraining order to stop Sun selling LibAttach and the names of customers it has already been distributed to. Sun bought Storagetek in 2005. Netbula's info on the suit is here.®
A Romanian hacker has been charged with running amok on more than 150 US government computers. Victor Faur, 26, of Arad, Romania, allegedly launched attacks that disrupted the systems of NASA, the Energy Department, and the Navy. Victims were faced with bills estimated at $1.5m to sort out the mess. Faur, suspected leader of a hacking group called the WhiteHat Team that's blamed for the attacks, faces nine counts of computer hacking and one count of conspiracy, offences punishable by up to 54 years imprisonment. Faur is also being prosecuted on separate computer crime offences in his native Romania. US authorities plan to seek Faur's extradition after the conclusion of the case. Mischief rather than money seem to have motivated the attacks. The WhiteHat Team allegedly used compromised machines to host chat sessions. Targeted systems were being used to process scientific data, including data from spacecraft, or for technology research. The attacks forced scientists to use backup systems to communicate with spacecraft while compromised systems were been repaired. ®
A week after Windows Vista's official launch hackers have devised their first attack, targeting pirates trying to install illegal copies of Microsoft's operating system. A supposed Windows Vista crack called Windows Vista All Versions Activation 21.11.06 is reportedly doing the rounds, offering those tempted by the chance of sticking it to Microsoft the ability to install illegal versions of Windows Vista.
Gordon Brown delivered his last pre-budget report this afternoon, and launched the findings of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. Former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers recommended to the Treasury that penalties for illegal downloading should match those for physical piracy. [That's flogging dodgy disks at car boot sales, not highjacking on the high seas.] Trading Standards officers should be given new powers to act on digital copyright infringement, he reported. They currently only enforce the law in relation to physical copying. As expected, Gowers reckons the rules outlawing ripping CDs should be updated. By 2008 loading music onto your iTunes shouldn't be against the law. A series of recommendations surround the flexibilty of intellectual property law include several on fair use; Gowers pushes for an exception to copyright for the purposes of "caricature, parody or pastiche" for example. "Transformative and derivative works", which use copyrighted material as their basis, should be allowed here as they are in the US, he argues. The report's recommendations are just that, however. Which ones become government policy remains to be seen. ®
Gordon Brown has delivered his pre-Budget speech warning of a clampdown on copyright fraud and tax avoidance by managed service, or composite, companies. Managed service companies are used by some contractors as way to reduce tax and National Insurance contributions.
Paranoid parents can now track their children even if the little dears give the nanny the slip or escape from the loving embrace of the Chelsea tractor. i-Kids is a new handset being launched by Mobiles2Go, along with a service specifically aimed at providing parents with the ability to track their children on demand using an in-built GPS receiver.
Novel expects a drop in revenue for its current, fourth quarter and is predicting a flat 12 months, despite rising Linux sales and a Microsoft sales boost.
Just a couple of months after Vodafone announced that Phones4U would get the exclusive right to sell its connections it has back-peddled and will allow CW to sell contract renewals and pre-pay connections. According to the The Financial Times the firms have stepped back from an acrimonious divorce, and have opted for some sort of open relationship. The Times estimates contract renewals and pre-pay connectionsto account for around 40 per cent of the business lost, which makes it a significant step towards rebuilding the relationship between the two companies. At the time of the original announcement Carphone Warehouse shares dived nearly 16 per cent as many questioned its business model, and other networks announced they were re-examining their sales channels. But it would appear that other operators have become nervous of doing business with Phones4U, and are strengthening their relationship with CW as a result, which in turn makes it harder for Vodafone to operate an exclusive arrangement. It isn’t rare, in the mobile industry, for companies to struggle to understand who needs whom the most, and who has the upper hand in negotiations. Network operators are often guilty of over-rating their position while rapidly discovering that customers are more loyal to their handset manufacturer or retailer than their service provider, a situation which is only going to intensify as alternative voice services become more widely used. This time it seems that Vodafone overstepped the mark, and in a year or two we’ll see Carphone Warehouse quietly stocking Vodafone contracts again as though nothing had happened.®
Java crusher Azul Systems has birthed a second generation of hardware and proven that it's a start-up capable of learning lessons.
NASA today unleashed its "squirting gun" by making bold claims about the presence of very liquid, very flowing water on Mars. Photographs taken over the past seven years reveal changes in Mars' landscape that seem to indicate the presence of an underground water supply. The subsurface "water" has crept up to feed two gullies clearly visibly in the Mars pictures. While NASA has already discussed the presence of ice and water vapor in the past, it is particularly thrilled about the prospect of liquid water given that it could foster microbial life. Scientists have long pointed to evidence such as vast channels on Mars that water once flowed on the planet. Now, however, it seems that liquid water may have been on the move in just the last few years and even today. "We have had this story of ancient water on Mars," said Ken Edgett, a scientist with Malin Space Science Systems, during a press conference. "Today, we are talking about liquid water that is present on Mars right now. "You have all heard of a smoking gun. (This) is a squirting gun." You'll find NASA's images here. As with most of NASA's squirting guns, there's little actual proof that the liquid in question is water beyond observations made by scientists. The space agency could end up sending a rover to explore the site in question or may use other probes to try and assess the chemical composition of the area for more proof of liquid water. NASA believes that the subsurface water freezes almost immediately after reaching the surface of Mars, creating ice or salty deposits. "These fresh deposits suggest that at some places and times on present-day Mars, liquid water is emerging from beneath the ground and briefly flowing down the slopes," said Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems. "This possibility raises questions about how the water would stay melted below ground, how widespread it might be, and whether there's a below-ground wet habitat conducive to life. Future missions may provide the answers." ®
Cluster Watch: Day 6Cluster Watch: Day 6 It may have been CEO Darl McBride or attorney David Boies, but someone has stepped up to fix the SCO Group's web site.