12th > December > 2006 Archive

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SGI dishes out super simple storage box

SGI has popped out a new low-end storage system that it bills as its "easiest-to-deploy" "plug-and-play" box to date.
Ashlee Vance, 12 Dec 2006

Online gambling poised to pull $528bn

Internet gaming is now the fastest growing segment of internet commerce, according to a report from Gamingpublic.com, an industry trade publication. Revenue in the sector is growing at a rate of 22 per cent per year. Gamingpublic.com cited a Merrill Lynch study that concluded the global internet gaming market could reach – wait for it - $528bn annually by 2015. Although the market as a whole is currently estimated by most analysts to be between $12bn and $30bn per annum, and overall growth is strong, fallout from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed by the US Congress last summer continues to plague the industry. Sportingbet PLC, one of the leading British companies in the gaming industry, recently posted a $471m loss as a result of the closure of its American operations. After its CEO, Peter Dicks, was detained in New York by American authorities, Sportingbet PLC unloaded its American operations for a mere $1. Online gambling currently accounts for only about 3 per cent of the global gambling market. ®
Burke Hansen, 12 Dec 2006
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Tesco in customer receipt security breach

An administrative blunder left thousands of customers of UK supermarket chain Tesco open to identity fraud. Store receipts - containing names and full credit card details - have been found carelessly discarded in a south-east England depot where they'd been taken to be destroyed. The haul would have made a big payday for bin raiding crooks, who might have been able to use the information to complete fraudulent transactions. The papers were taken to the Christian Salvesen recycling depot in plastic carrier bags - instead of secure containers - and left unattended, The Sun reports. The UK tabloid was given a sample of receipts by workers concerned about the breach, and the lack of initial action by depot managers. The receipts came from Tesco's stores in Kent, Surrey, Essex and south east London. After been informed about the problem, Tesco bosses have vowed to revamp security. ®
John Leyden, 12 Dec 2006

Packeteer offers free WAN evals

WAN optimisation specialist Packeteer is offering free WAN application performance evaluations, plus software to track video usage over the network. The evaluation service involves plugging one of the company's PacketShaper appliances into an organisation's WAN connection to automatically discover which applications are running, their response times and how much bandwidth they're consuming. "It's the kind of thing delivered in WAN probes such as NetScout or Network General Sniffer, but those are only recently adding Layer 7 capabilities," said Packeteer CEO Dave Cote. He claimed that Packeteer's analysis provided more granularity and depth than either WAN probes or other WAN optimisation appliances. According to Cote, a single PacketShaper can identify and classify over 600 applications and protocols. When used in pairs at either end of a WAN connection, the devices can use this information to accelerate network traffic, prioritise some applications while limiting the bandwidth available to others, and reduce latency. Packeteer also announced software modules that enable PacketShaper to identify and manage Flash-based IP video streams from sources such as YouTube, VideoGoogle, MySpace, ABC, and ESPN, plus online TV channels and podcasts. Cot said that with video increasingly being used for business as well as for amusement, it is vital to classify it accurately. That means understanding what applications are running on the network, not merely what protocols or ports are in use. "An awful lot of our competitors accelerate certain applications but without knowledge of the other applications running on the network," he claimed. "We're talking about a step before that - to discover what's running on the network. At most, the others are doing port-level identification. We go a step further, not only checking at layer 7 that it's really Oracle, say, and not something else spoofing Oracle, but we can even identify the traffic by database name." Cote had harsh words too for those WAN optimisation vendors - such as Silver Peak and the Citrix-owned Orbital Data - who say they don't need application-specific modules because they can optimise all traffic. "Saying 'We accelerate everything' is wrong. If you do it indiscriminately, you may also be accelerating iTunes or a worm, say. Or if you accelerate a big file attachment and the same network is running your SAP, your critical business application might get crushed by your email."®
Bryan Betts, 12 Dec 2006

Husband's online revenge nipped in the bud

A wronged husband bent on revenge who threatened to reveal the identity of his wife's celebrity lover on the internet has been barred from doing so. An interim injunction has been served on human rights grounds. In a case which could have serious repercussions for online and offline media law the High Court has ruled that the wife of the celebrity adulterer should be protected from the publication of the details of the affair. The identities of all parties have been kept secret. The husband was referred to as AB, the celebrity adulterer, believed to be a figure from the world of sport, as CC. Justice Eady ruled that the privacy rights of CC's wife under the European Convention of Human Rights would be infringed by AB's revelations about their affair. "In personal and sexual relationships the courts have for some time recognised that there is what is now generally referred to as a reasonable or legitimate 'expectation of privacy'," said Eady in his ruling. The case involved a balancing of competing EHCR rights, said Eady: that of CC's wife to privacy and that of AB to freedom of expression. Eady said that he had to make sure that his judgments were free of personal moral bias. "It is not for judges when applying the European Convention, which is a secular code applying to those of all religions and none, to give an appearance of sanctimony by damning adulterers or seeking, as I was invited to do by Mr Bartley Jones, to 'vindicate' the state of matrimony," he said. In assessing the free speech rights of AB, Eady said that not all speech was of equal value and due equal protection. "The communication of material to the world at large in which there is a genuine public interest is naturally to be rated more highly than the right to sell what is mere 'tittle-tattle'," he said. Eady was particularly concerned with the effects that any publicity would have on CC's wife. She was said to be suffering stress and anxiety which requires medical attention and the court heard that she had talked of committing suicide. "If I come to the conclusion that, in order to protect [CC's family life], it is necessary to prevent the Defendant going directly or indirectly to the media for no better reason than spite, money-making or 'tittle tattle', then I would be obliged to restrain him. The fact that he may be, or may see himself as, an 'injured party' does not accord him a special status, not given to others, which inherently raises the value of the communications he wishes to make to the tabloids on to some higher plane or renders them more valuable in Article 10 terms," said Eady. The court issued a temporary injunction stopping AB from communicating with the media directly or indirectly or publishing on the internet any details of the affair. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 12 Dec 2006

IT presence in the UK faces extinction as students shun the sector

This month has seen the UK's aspiring Prime Minister recycling his views in his Budget Report on the requirements and funding for enhancing the training opportunities and skills to compete globally as a prelude to announcing greater investment in higher education. Some people and organisations, “speaking on behalf of the UK IT Industry”, have hitched themselves to this bandwagon in the anticipation that some of the UK Government's proposed increase in its skills and education funding will find its way to the IT industry both in funding terms and in delivering more highly trained and motivated IT professionals. Essentially, the UK IT Industry is suffering from an image problem, failing to attract sufficient younger people to the industry. Fewer people are taking science and technology courses at University or other further education establishments. Equally, fewer graduates are attracted to the IT industry as a career. The reasons given are varied and include vacuous comments about the IT industry's image problems, which should be addressed by the industry not the Government. These can only be rectified by the industry. However, like many industries, the UK-based IT industry suffers from the Wimbledon syndrome. They are not British but the UK has been a great place to come and base some of its activities. At the same time most founders and proprietors of small to medium size IT companies have the very legitimate dream of ultimate success as being acquired by a larger IT enterprise and living happily (well prosperously) ever after. Of the top 10 IT companies operating in the UK I can only think of two or three, which are UK domiciled and could reasonably be expected to have a concern about funding, skills and image of the UK IT industry. Most are multi-nationals who will locate or relocate to other geographies where skills may be found in greater numbers and at more competitive costs. Some who speak for the industry claim that the moves to off shoring of both systems development and operations over the past decade have themselves been responsible for the decline in the UK IT skills base. Young people are not attracted to an industry that is seen to be steadily moving the deployment of its skills base to the Asian Continent and which does not appear to offer security or assured career prospects within the UK. It is highly unlikely that the UK Government is able legally to offer any form of protectionism to UK IT industry: it would probably fall foul of the ubiquitous EU Competition and Trade Regulations. At best it would provide some short-term amelioration of the problem, which will continue until such time as there is a wholesale reversion to national trade protectionism. History suggest that time will come—but when? Equally, the indigenous IT Industry may be an adviser and facilitator to the UK Government in deployment of funding budgets for IT skills through the advice on channelling funding for skills and education and, perhaps, assuming some of these functions themselves. The analogies with the motor industry merit examination, certainly for the manufacturing and operational elements of the IT industry. The UK has some small specialist niche manufacturers where price and competition are not factors. There is a willingness to pay a premium for what is perceived to be a crafted or proprietary product. Over and above that there remains some specialist component manufacturing as well as assembly of vehicles for the UK domestic market. Some of the major motor manufacturers do maintain some elements of the design and creativity aspect of development in the UK. In the IT industry this is represented by small, niche, software houses. Once they have developed a prototype or an initial installed base they are willing acquisition targets. While I do not subscribe to the bleak assessment that “IT presence in the UK faces extinction as students shun the sector”, the IT Industry is a modern form of manufacturing industry and has to face the challenges which globalisation has brought during that time. Employment will be scaled down in the UK and, theoretically at least, in other Western European Countries, unless they operate some covert form of protectionism, which France and to a lesser extent Germany still manage to do. The IT Industry will only scale-up again in the UK, if, or when, costs of off-shoring become uncompetitive or, alternatively, the economic and political risks in the offshore environment increase. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com
Bob McDowall, 12 Dec 2006

Online dragnet catches missing child abusers

Police are hailing the early success of the recently launched "most wanted" child abusers website after a third convicted paedophile was caught in northern France yesterday. Paul Francis Turner, aged 57, was spotted by members of the public who had seen his photograph and details on the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre website. The site opened last month in a bid to track down five missing child sex attackers. The arrest follows the capture of Kamil Krawiec on his return to Stansted from his native Poland last Thursday. Gordon Stewart turned himself in to Midlands police hours after the website went live. Information about Alexander Colin Dalgleish, who was last seen in Aire, and Joshua Karney is still sought. The men are all on the Sex Offenders Register, which obliges them to report their whereabouts to police. CEOP Centre chief executive Jim Gamble said: "If you are a convicted child sex offender and you think that you can escape the terms of your conviction by jumping across borders, going into hiding, assuming different identities - then think again. You will be caught - there is no place to hide. Three out of five have already been found and we are looking to post details of new offenders in the next few weeks." The CEOP Centre is here. ®
Christopher Williams, 12 Dec 2006

Layman's legalese sends online libel case to court

Every element of a process designed to avoid expensive defamation trials must be followed otherwise it cannot take effect, the High Court has ruled. The ruling may result in a case of internet message board libel going to court. The Defamation Act contains a process called the 'offer of amends' which is designed to encourage settlement of defamation cases without going to trial, which can be expensive and unpredictable. The case involved a message board posting by Craig Powell regarding a boat he purchased from SD Marine Ltd. The boat, called Artemis, needed some work done to it before delivery to Powell which SD Marine agreed to do. Powell claimed that the work had not been done satisfactorily and is pursuing a case in the county court system against the company. In the meantime, though, Powell posted messages on the Yachting & Boating World website message board about his experiences. Headed 'SD Marine – Honest Brokers or back street cowboys', the original post has been lost because it was deleted within 40 minutes of being posted. Powell said it detailed his experiences with the company and asked whether other boat owners had had similar experiences. Powell posted a second message which carried the same heading but made no direct reference to SD Marine. On the day of the postings Powell was contacted by a solicitor acting for SD Marine and asked to remove the posting on the basis that it was false and defamatory. Powell asked the website owners to take the posting down, which they did. In discussion with the solicitor, Powell, who acted for himself throughout the events, said that he would make an offer of amends under Section 2 of the Defamation Act. This is a formal process by which a case can be quickly settled. It has a number of strict conditions, including that an offer must involve a preparedness to pay any costs and damages agreed by the parties. The law says that an offer must represent a willingness to do all the things contained in it, including the payment of those sums, and not just some of them. Eventually the solicitor for SD Marine accepted that offer. The case before the High Court was a dispute about whether or not an offer had been made. If it had then SD Marine would be able to enforce it. If not, Powell would be free to defend his words in court on the basis of justification. Justice Eady found that an offer had not been made because not all of the conditions of the offer had been met by Powell, whose layman's understanding of the law meant that he had not made an offer that was technically sound. The case hinged in part on Eady's interpretation of the email which first represented Powell's offer. "[The email] is plainly rather confused in certain respects, and the question arises whether it can be interpreted as including an unequivocal offer of amends within the meaning of the statute," said Eady in his judgment. "It can be noted, first, that the offer appears to have been defined as being only '… to publish the retraction and apology in the terms drafted below which will be posted on the Yachting Monthly website for 3 days'. That is confusing." Eady said that he believed that even SD Marine's solicitor, a Mr Marsh, did not believe it was a binding offer. "It seems clear that Mr Marsh was doubtful, despite the Defendant's express reference to s.2 of the Act, as to whether he truly was intending to make an unequivocal and unqualified offer in accordance with that regime." "I infer that Mr Marsh must have known that the Defendant did not intend to commit himself to a binding agreement in relation to the first posting – let alone the second," said Eady. "It is no answer to rely on the mantra that he had received, or been recommended to obtain, 'legal advice'. In fact, he appears to have had no more than an informal chat. In any case his written communications speak for themselves." "The application has been decided on the footing that, objectively judged, there had at no stage been an offer which fell within the terms of the 1996 Act," said Eady. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 12 Dec 2006

Apple a-quiver over iPod vibrator copyright clash

Apple has set the lawyers on the makers of the iBuzz iPod-driven vibrator. The company claims the UK website established to promote the stimulatory accessory violates its copyright.
The Hardware Widow, 12 Dec 2006

Plan for European patent court may fail, says EU Commissioner

The EU Internal Markets Commissioner has warned that Europe is about to miss out on a chance to forge a pan-European patent disputes forum because of long-standing international bickering on what a system might look like. Following further fruitless discussions between European countries this week, Charlie McCreevy has warned that the entire plan could stall. “Anything remotely concerning this patent area is fraught with minefields at every turn of the road,” McCreevy told the Financial Times. Europe's industry ministers met on Monday to discuss how to establish the long-planned European Patent Litigation Agreement which would commit its signatory states to an integrated judicial system for patent disputes, including uniform rules of procedure and a common appeal court. They discussed long-standing problems with the proposal and failed to come to any agreement. France said it wanted any EPLA to be taken out of the hands of the European Patent Office (EPO) and put into the control of Europe's existing courts system. Others, too, have questioned the accountability of an EPLA tied to the EPO and not to the EU itself. Belgium reportedly argued that entry into an EPLA agreement should be voluntary, and that countries should not be forced into the scheme by European decree. McCreevy sought permission from the national ministers to negotiate on all of the EU's behalf for entry into the EPLA scheme. That was not given. McCreevy has already amended his EPLA plans this year. The European Parliament objected to a motion on joining the EPLA on grounds of accountability, cost and the prospect that it would make software patents more likely. Members of the Parliament proposed their own, softened, version of McCreevy's motion, which they passed in October this year. That motion said that the Parliament "considers that the proposed [EPLA] text needs significant improvements, which address concerns about democratic control, judicial independence and litigation costs, and a satisfactory proposal for the Rules of Procedure of the EPLA Court." After this latest setback McCreevy told the Financial Times that he was "pessimistic" that any progress would ever be made. “I thought what we were proposing here would not be that difficult for member states to accept," he said. "But anything of significance is becoming increasingly difficult to to make progress on.” A separate plan for a Community Patent has also failed to make significant progress since being proposed by the European Commission in 2000. It would give inventors the option of obtaining a single patent that would be legally valid throughout the European Union, saving significant costs in the protection of an invention. But a failure to agree on the requirements for the translation of patents and on how infringements of patents which might arise as a result of mistranslations should be treated has stalled progress. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 12 Dec 2006

Fujitsu 'first' to announce 300GB laptop SATA HDD

Fujitsu has unveiled what it claims is the world's first 2.5in, notebook-oriented SATA hard drive with a "second-generation perpendicular recording"-boosted capacity of 300GB.
Tony Smith, 12 Dec 2006

Dell takes orders for Blu-ray laptop

Dell has brought the Blu-ray Disc next-generation optical disc format to its XPS M1710 gamer-friendly notebook offering. The PC giant is now allowing buyers to configure the machine with a dual-layer, 50GB BD-R burner.
Tony Smith, 12 Dec 2006

Intel EOLs Pentium D 820

Intel has formally sounded the death knell for its dual-core Pentium D 820 processor, documents sent by the chip giant to its customers reveal. Come 2 February 2007, orders for the part will no longer be available for cancellation and shipped product can't be sent back.
Tony Smith, 12 Dec 2006

O2 offers to scratch mobile phones

O2 are offering free etching of logos and pictures onto mobile phone handsets, at the Blue Room in their flagship store at 368 Oxford Street (London). O2 customers are invited in to take a break from the horrors of Christmas shopping and enjoy a back massage and some free internet access too. A selection of logos are available incorporating the normal Celtic ropes and skulls, but custom designs are also possible, if not promised: take along your ideas and they’ll try to accommodate them. The process is carried out by experts from Razorlab and takes about 20 minutes. This idea of creating a haven for O2 customers only is built on their presence at various music festivals, where customer-only zones have provided rest and recuperation facilities varying between festivals. The idea is very valid: with non-customers looking on jealously at the chosen ones inside, and generates customer loyalty without cutting prices. Anyone doing their Christmas Shopping on Oxford Street two weeks before Christmas is either mad or desperate, and either way respite is likely to be most welcome. Whether O2 will have the space to accommodate crowds of foot-sore customers and their shopping remains to be seen, but the Blue Room will remain open until the 23rd of December.
Bill Ray, 12 Dec 2006

Nvidia specs up single-chip Intel integrated chipsets

Analyst claims that Nvidia is close to releasing low-cost chipsets targeting Intel processors gained weight this week when Far Eastern moles detailed the single-chip products' - said to be codenamed 'MCP73' and 'MCP79' - specifications.
Tony Smith, 12 Dec 2006

Cambridge Soundworks readies iPod-friendly speakers

Creative Technology subsidiary Cambridge Soundworks will next month ship a version of its PlayDock speaker set for Apple's iPod. The company began shipping a version of the product for Creative's Zen digital music players today. Creative is the company that famously declared war on the iPod. Nowadays, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Tony Smith, 12 Dec 2006

MS ships 'free' Xbox 360 coding kit for amateurs

Microsoft has released its anticipated PC-hosted Xbox 360 games development package, XNA Game Studio Express, in the hope it can turn game players into game makers. And make some money out of them: it's charging would-be coders $99 a year for access to sample software, support and such.
Tony Smith, 12 Dec 2006

Re-enact great Jedi, Sith battles with... a Nintendo Wii Remote

Remember MacSaber, the fun utility that used a MacBook or MacBook Pro's hard drive movement sensor to trigger Jedi lightsabre sounds? Well, now you can do the same thing with the much more sword hilt-like Nintendo Wii Remote.
Register Hardware, 12 Dec 2006
globalisation

Memory conference considers the future of our pasts

Academics, writers, biographers and computer scientists came together in London today to discuss how and whether technology can and should be used to supplement and augment human memory. The stage for the meeting: the British Library, where the University of Southampton is hosting the Memories for Life Colloquium.
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Dec 2006

Nintendo Wii launch breaks UK record

Nintendo has sold more than 105,000 Wiis in the UK since the games console went on sale over here first thing last Friday morning. According to the videogames pioneer, punters took possession of 50,000 Wiis during the first 12 hours it was available.
Tony Smith, 12 Dec 2006

Films fail to pull in the on-line punters

A survey of US internet users shows that while video content is popular, films are not. Only 5% of those who regularly watch video content on the internet have sat through a whole film sitting at their desk. Amongst the sample of 1, 725 interviewed by API Research nearly 70% of those polled use internet video to watch short-form entertainment, such as news clips or the ballast which fills YouTube: with age being a pretty clear delineator between those two groups. How many are getting their short-form content from subscription sites of an adult nature isn’t recorded. Back in the days when interactive TV was going to change everything we talked a lot about the “lean-forward” experience of computer use, against the “lean back” TV-watching pose for which we were creating content. For those with short memories: selling the web to TV-watchers went badly, so why should selling movies to computer-users fair any better? Until the computer moves into the living room then selling films over the internet will remain a niche activity, but that’s not going to take long.
Bill Ray, 12 Dec 2006

186K swallows EFH broadband

Aggressive Leeds-based business ISP 186K has bought up EFH broadband. The EFH brand will now become the main focus of 186K's consumer operaton. Financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed. 186K says service will be undisrupted as EFH customers join its network. 186K will be familiar to Register readers as the firm which somehow pounces when wholesaler NetServices has a tiff with one of its resellers and says it is unable to provide migration codes. Most recently 186K was a beneficiary of the dispute between NetServices and Biscit, a fellow mid-level rival provider which is also hungry to assimilate smaller players. The move highlights the rapid consolidation which has occurred amongst ISPs this year, and is expected to continue in 2007 as prices continue to fall. ®
Christopher Williams, 12 Dec 2006

Giant willies take on Doomed DRM

LettersLetters We've gone all musical this week, thanks largely to the Gower review of the future of copyright, followed by the news that you can get enough of Apple's iTunes afterall. A broad theme emerges in your letters, you will not be surprised to learn. Later, we'll wander through your thoughts on the carbon footprint of the average SecondLifer, or inahbitant of Sadville, as Mr. Orlowski contiues to insist upon calling them. But back to the music. We'll get off to a colourful start with the following.. er..well rant isn't quite strong enough, so we'll have to call it an explosion of venom from Reg reader Mark Splinter. (It doesn't qualify as flame of the week because it is not directed at any of our staff): Dear Record Industry, For the gajillionth time. You take away copyright from musicians the minute they sign. That is what musicians are signing, a document giving you the rights to their music. "Rights holders" are not musicians. Real musicians don't even see music as "property" they see it as an essential part of their personal self expression. You exploit that. I hate you for it. People actually tell me that "stealing mp3s hurts the artists community". Congratulations on the success of your poisonous propaganda. It's strange how they never tell me "clueless execs bury the best music and greenlight the worst". You do not represent artists, you represent shareholders. When artists stop being wildly profitable, you drop them. You don't "protect" them. You drop them. You prefer to make Beatles box sets. So stop freaking lying about it and pretending you are some kind of Happy Music Friends Club where Art Comes First!!! In fact, fuck you, you are a stain on the planet, you decrease everybody's quality of life and you stifle the expression of truly heartfelt emotions and ideas. Parasites. Leeches. Assholes. Fucktards. You don't know how to make music, you don't care about music, you don't care about artists, you don't even know what real music feels like. Shove your full page advert up your arse you despicable lazy crunts. You're lucky I live in Lithuania where I didn't have to see your filthy lies in print, and where copyright receives as much respect as the Presidency, i.e. none. Sincerely, Mark Splinter. How about this for a question: if you haven't made any money on a copyrighted piece of material in not only the author's lifetime but 45 years after as well... will you EVER make any money on it? What use would an extra 45 years bring? Personally I find the whole argument of the "after artists death" to be pretty pointless as the money isn't exactly going to do them a lot of good when they're buried 6 feet under! I still like the idea that was floated on TheReg a while back, in that a copyright is free for the first 10 years, then a modest fee for the next 10, then a larger fee, and so-on and so-forth until 70 years or 50 years at which point it's stupidly expensive and only the most profitable ones are worth keeping up. Makes sense to me... but then I think the majority of people are excused from the crazed world of the Record Company execs who seem to live is this weird fantasy land where "stealing music" is worse than armed robbery, rape or murder... Name withheld And in response to an interview follow-up on the Gower review, and its impact on Europe: If a record company/artist/movie company cannot make enough money off a record/movie in 50 years in this age of CDs/Radio/iTunes/ringtones or Cinema/DVDs/Sky box Office/Terrestrial viewing then something is lacking, probably the audiences willingness to watch/listen. What with releases, best of compilations (1 or 2 newly released versions with 12 that are on OTHER compliations) special editions, remastered editions, the companies have every oportinity to sell the product to us over the 50 years. - Alister   "any European moves to bow to pressure and ignore his evidence-based assessment would be 'politics getting in the way' " Wow, am I ever reassured. I'm happy to know that the decision will be made based purely on substantiated, legal and scientific arguments - like all major economic decisions have been since at least . . umm . . yesterday. Yes, it sure is good to know that any lobbyist meddling will be quickly labeled as such for the world to see. They might even get a yellow card if they push to much. I'm glad all that political stuff is being so strongly kept in check. Wouldn't want the European Institutions to fall for some lame political trick, now would we ? Pascal. As we mentioned at the top of the page, Apple's iTunes did not hit all the right financial notes. According to analysts, restrictive DRM is to blame. The collapse of DRM. I would pay more than 99c to see this happening. Giacomo Your article on iTunes mirrors exactly my buying habits on iTunes. I'll go to iTunes when I can't get a track legal or illegally. I'll use it to hear snippets of a track I'm trying to find then I'll probably go and get it on CD. As a Google-type search tool for music, it's great. Other than that, I haven't got much use for it. First music is encoded at too low a bit rate. Speech is even worse. I bought Peter Kay's "Live at the Top of the Tower" that was encoded at only 32kbps and was only 1 pound cheaper than the CD in the stores. To date, for this ysar, I've bought 5 tracks off iTunes plus the five free ones I got from drinking Diet Coke. One other problem I feel with iTunes is it's just a poor investment; for 79p I can download a track of only average sound quality, limited to five devices, can't be re-downloaded if I lose it and is absolutely guaranteed to be technologically obselete inside five years. My oldest CDs are about 17 years old and sound as good now as it did then. I mean, my 1988 copy of Wet Wet Wet's Popped In, Souled Out (sorry...) cost me about 14 quid and has been in and out of dozens of CD players in that time, has crossed the Atlantic four times and is (crucially) still the same as the one I can get at Virgin now. Now, the thing about a music collection is it isn't emphemeral, it isn't a disposable thing that we forever replace. We buy CDs and music lovers keep them and look after them for years. Imagining there is nothing more to music than a collection of zeros and ones shows a total ignorance of the culture. May be that should be on Steve Jobs' notepad: "it's the culture, stupid..." Best regards, Kevin. Is it possible that the only segment of the music industry that is actually showing retail sales growth is AllOfMp3.com? Maybe music just isn't worth $10 for a CD or $1 for a track any more. Julian The lovely Mark Splinter sent us his thoughts on this, too, but we think he'd calmed down a little from the previous time he put finger to keyboard: Again interesting to read that DRM is unpopular. Again frustrating to read only about major record labels, as if they are important to anybody except their shareholders. It is pure industry propaganda that they are "representing" artists and it is totall bullshit that without the industry there would be no art. It is obscene to ignore the millions of bedroom musicians and argue about how to pay for U2 downloads. You can give me all the legal rights in the world to rip music from sony and universal, and it won't change the fact that the music sucks, and the people in charge don't know good music even if it hits them in the face. In Lithuania we are starting a show on a radio station that has opted out of the official blanket radio license. We will pay no license, and we will broadcast music from indies and bedroom musicians. This gives us a choice of millions of mp3s which are happily given to us for free, on the understanding that we will acknowledge the artist and promote his work respectfully. The radio station will barely make enough money to power the generator, and i doubt we will get rich from DJing, but the people of Vilnius will have mindblowing and diverse music to listen to every week, and nobody will die. We still have our day jobs, we'd prefer not to, but you can't have everything in life. The fact is that if an artist joins a collection agency we will simply play SOMEONE ELSE, we won't be paying him either way. But we won't be driving around in BMWs moaning about "piracy" either. Mark Splinter Back to Second Life, its inhabitants and their carbon coated feet. Oh, and poor latin grammar, but that was us: At the risk of being sadder than the Sadville inhabitants, since when has the plural of penis been penii? Penis, being a 3rd declension noun is declined: Sing. Plural Nom. penis penes Voc. penis penes Acc. penim penis Gen. penis penium Dat. peni penibus Abl. peni penibus So, it should be giant furry penes. It is second declension nouns (e.g. dominus, populus, radius) where the plurals end -i (except for neuters). Simon Avast ye! Global warming be caused by a lamentable decline in pirates, as this (http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/) letter in a bottle makes clear to any but the most lubbery of landlubbers. Aye, Saddville, it be needing more pirates. That'll stop global warming and keep the beer cool. Savvy? Thorsten "In the discussion that followed, Sun's Microsystems Dave Douglas calculated the annual carbon footprint of 1,752 kWH/year as around 1.17 tons of CO2. "That's the equivalent of driving an SUV around 2,300 miles". Only a lot less fun". Hmm, driving an SUV at 0.26 miles per hour doesn't seem like much fun to me. 1752 kWH assumes that a "Sadville" avatar is active 24/7 all year and consumes power at 0.2 kW. The correct comparison is driving an SUV 24/7 every day of the whole year. Compared to driving for recreation or taking jet holidays, virtual reality is a _lot_ more energy-efficient. Joel Happy birthday Doom. Ah, the nostalgia. But as ever, there are those with longer, dustier memories of earlier, even more pixelated FPS games than even the legendary Castle Wolfenstein: Just read your article about Doom 13th birthday. Just wanted to comment on the fact that Wolfenstein 3D was not the first 'first person shooter', I cannot offer about any guarantee about which game was really the first first, but I can at least say that Midi Maze, released in 1987 on the Atari ST machines was here before Wolf 3D. Agreed, it was not using fancy textured walls and characters, but it was first person view, in a 3D maze, you could shoot at other players, and it was possible to play networked up to 16 players connected with midi cables (hence the name). You can read more about Midi Maze here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIDI_Maze Thanks. Mickael Concerning your article on Doom's 13th birthday, you say that Wolfenstein 3D is the first first person shooter... ...I refer you to the freescape games on the 8 biit computers of the 80s (ZX Spectrum etc...) that not only predates the iD Software games by several years, but also is in true filled polygon 3D, not 2D tiles with sprites to simulate 3D. Just thought you'd like to know! The Starglider Nice to see you commemorating Doom which was indeed a milestone and kickstarted a PC gaming boom. It wasn't the first FPS by a long shot though, and not even the first FPS that allowed head-to-head network play. That accolade goes to MazeWar (http://www.digibarn.com/history/04-VCF7-MazeWar/index.html) at the minute. I remember playing it on a Mac network in college in the late 80's, however it had been around for a while even then. Alan And that's all she wrote. Back on Friday, so keep 'em coming. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Dec 2006
2

Some thoughts on the mod_security acquisition

ColumnColumn First, a public service announcement. The next European ApacheCon event will be held in Amsterdam, in the first week of May. The Call for Papers is now open at http://apachecon.com/. There will be a US ApacheCon in November. Now to the column.
Nick Kew, 12 Dec 2006
homeless man with sign

Inside a cyber-crook's Xmas wish list

Most people will be looking forward to receiving digital cameras, games and the like - as well as the inevitable pair of socks - this Christmas. But cybercrooks can take the opportunity to splash out, angling for things such as credit card numbers and their corresponding PINs, the trade in which is booming online. Some items are more valuable than others, according to Raimund Genes, CTO of net security firm Trend Micro, which has compiled what it reckons an average cyber crook’s Christmas list might look like: $1000 – $5000 (£500 – £2500): Customised Trojan program, which could be used to steal online account information $500 (£250): Credit Card Number with PIN $80-$300 (£40 - £150): Change of billing data, including account number, billing address, Social Security number, home address and birth date $150 (£75): Driver‘s licence $150 (£75): Birth certificate $100 (£50): Social Security Card $7 - $25 (£3 - £12): Credit card number with security code and expiration date. $7 (£3): Paypal account log-on and password Trend derived its data from prices on underground bulletin boards and online forums. Genes said that malware threats are increasingly created for the purpose of financial gain, with attack techniques becoming more sophisticated. More common activities include trying to steal bank account or credit card numbers and passwords through phishing and keylogging malware. The information gathered can then be sold on the web. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels, for example, are a common "flea market" for stolen personal data. ®
John Leyden, 12 Dec 2006
arrow pointing up

Pentagon hacker appeals US extradition

Gary McKinnon, the Pentagon hacker, faces what might be his last appeal hearing against extradition on 13 February next year at London's Court of Appeal. McKinnon, 40, faces possible trial under US anti-terror laws over alleged attacks on military and NASA systems between 2001 and 2002. The Scot lost his first appeal against extradition in an High Court hearing last July but the unemployed sysadmin was given leave to take his case to a higher court. Failure this time around will mean that the only possible avenue left to him would be an appeal to the House of Lords, to avoid charges which might land him in prison for up to 70 years. McKinnon has had these charges over his head since March 2002, when he was arrested by officers from the UK's National High Tech Crime Unit. The case against him lay dormant until July 2005 - he's been unable to find work since then. His lawyers say he should be tried in the UK over his offences, rather than the US. McKinnon (AKA Solo) admits he looked at computer systems without permission, but claims he did no harm. He got involved in hacking after reading Disclosure by Stephen Grea, which convinced him that the US had harvested advanced technology from UFOs and kept this knowledge secret, to the detriment of the public. He was caught after US military agencies detected system intrusions which were traced back to the UK. UK authorities identified McKinnon as the attacker after obtaining records of British sales of a software tool called RemotelyAnywhere to McKinnon. Subsequent police work made him a prime suspect in the case, described by US authorities as the biggest military hack ever. McKinnon told Secure Computing that he was increasingly pessimistic about avoiding a trip to the US, following the failure of the NatWest Three to avoid extradition. "If I don't win the appeal then I can apply for leave to appeal to the House of Lords, but that is not an automatic right," he said. "The NatWest Three applied for leave to appeal to the House of Lords and were refused and everyone was gobsmacked because they are hardly petty criminals, it was a big important case." The so-called NatWest Three were extradited to the US in July this year, in connection with the investigation into an £11.5m fraud at the collapsed energy giant Enron. The bankers' case - which is tied up with the collapse of US energy giant Enron - was the first to be carried out under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, which has been ratified by the UK, but not by the US. ®
John Leyden, 12 Dec 2006
channel

NY Times rattles IT industry with analyst ban

On Nov. 10, the New York Times declared a radical change in its editorial policy. The paper ceased quoting technology analysts in stories, if the analysts do business with the vendors mentioned in the articles. The policy shift has proved so radical that the Times has failed to adhere to it.
Ashlee Vance, 12 Dec 2006

With a blanket license, will CDs get cheaper?

So last year's " Future of Music™", the DRM-encumbered digital downloads model pioneered by Apple, has stalled. What now?
Andrew Orlowski, 12 Dec 2006

US students lack hunger - official

Complacency and incompetence continue to plague a US education system that has fallen well behind other nations, according US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Spellings, speaking today at Microsoft's Silicon Valley headquarters, warned that US students have become soft, particularly when compared against youngsters from China, Russia and India. "There is a hunger around the world that I don't often see here," she said, during the Churchill Club sponsored event. "Nobody in those countries is sitting around talking about class sizes and things like that. They have 60 people in a room getting as much as they can and are glad to have it." A backer of the "No Child Left Behind" policy, Spellings reckons that the US has tried to correct this complacency by forcing schools to meet certain performance metrics. The last few years have been spent trying to bring students' math and reading skills up to basic levels by having them pass standardized tests. And, should No Child Left Behind proceed as planned, schools and students that have failed to meet these goals will face more drastic measures over the next couple of years. Under-achieving schools, for example, could be restructured, while struggling students could receive free tutors and be moved to new schools. "Without this appetite for change, (improvement) is not going to happen," Spellings said. In 2007, Congress will show just how much it approves of such shifts with a vote on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind program. "It's going to be real interesting," Spellings said. Spellings is the first mother of school-age children to serve as US Secretary of Education. The Texan also stands as the first education chief to have spanked lesbians in a public forum, as far as we know. Like compadre President Bush, Spellings tosses out plenty of folksy sayings to get her points across. She likes to chat about onion peeling, meat and potatoes and setting the table. At one point during today's talk, she actually managed to fit both "set the table" and "peeling the onion" into the same sentence. Maybe she's the one who is hungry? The cliched talk is understandable for such a bureaucrat. Spellings has to bring up the lowest common denominator and look out for the underprivileged, while at the same time encouraging top minds with specialized programs. And she's meant to do all this quickly on a budget cramped by spending on tanks and warheads. These challenges, along with the politician's mask, force Spellings to rely on ambiguities. She did, however, cite a few specific issues facing the US education system: a lack of qualified teachers, a lack of motivated students, poor textbooks, improper use of technology and atrocious high school graduation rates. Spellings met Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers last night to discuss the technology issue. She's also looking to fix the textbook problem, starting with math books. A team of experts are going to make the math books more specific, rather than being "a mile wide and an inch thick." "Obviously, something is wrong out there with math instruction, the way we do it now," Spellings said. She wants Silicon Valley veterans to do their part on the teaching front. "I hope some of you will consider teaching after you retire and have made all this money in the hi-tech world," she said. A couple of audience members charged that the most serious problems plaguing schools stem from a minority of disruptive students and a lack of role models for inner-city children. Poorer students have a strong desire to learn, but are being hampered by their peers and situation. "Twenty-five percent of the students make it impossible to teach the other 75 per cent," said one audience member. "It is a travesty in this country that people with money can move their kids to schools where they want to be educated, but inner-city kids can't. "As long as those children who are disruptive are in the classroom, no-one can be educated." The education chief, however, remains bullish about No Child Left Behind and has a ready list of counter attacks for those who charge the program is underfunded and misguided. "I do believe that our nation tries to do something that no other nation really does," Spellings said. "We have this plan in place for everybody. I mean every, single person. That's not really the case with rural Indian, rural China or urban South Korea. "Still, they are on our heels and working hard. We need to pick up the pace." Spellings did not reveal a timeline for the President's mastery of English. ®
Ashlee Vance, 12 Dec 2006

McCain wants child porn rules for US message boards

Social networking sites and message boards face the same regulatory burden as internet service providers (ISPs) in a new bill proposed by ex-US presidential candidate John McCain. McCain wants sites to report all child pornography to authorities. Currently only ISPs have a duty to report suspected child pornography-related activity to the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. McCain's bill, though, extends that duty to social networking sites, and to all sites that carry message boards. McCain's proposed law is mainly aimed at sex offenders, but contains the demands on social networking sites within it. It says that site operators who know of any activity relating to child pornography must "make a report of such facts or circumstances to the CyberTipline of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children." McCain's proposed law says that it applies to any "social networking site, chat room, message board, or any other similar service using the internet." The proposed law has been read twice by the Senate and must now be referred to a committee for discussion. It says that convicted sex offenders in the US will have to register their online identities with the authorities if new laws being proposed are passed. If the bill became law it would create a significant extra regulatory burden on many sites, since a wide variety and large number of sites host message boards. The law would likely carry heavy penalties for site operators who did not notify authorities when offending material was posted. Amidst fears that social networking sites have made it easier for sexual predators to target young people, McCain has also proposed in his law that sex offenders identify all their online aliases to authorities. McCain last week introduced a proposal for his bill, Stop The Online Exploitation Of Our Children Act, which orders that convicted sex offenders register all email addresses, instant messaging names and chat room names so that they could be identified online. McCain proposed a 10 year jail sentence for those who fail to do so. The biggest social networking site MySpace last week said that it would ban sex offenders from signing up to the site. This would, though, depend on a system of registration of digital identities such as that proposed by McCain. The state of Virginia has also proposed a similar law. Attorney General Bob McDonnell backs the plan. "We require all sex offenders to register their physical and mailing addresses in Virginia, but in the 21st century, it is just as critical that they register any email addresses or IM screen names," he said. ®
OUT-LAW.COM, 12 Dec 2006