13th > December > 2006 Archive
Calyx, the Irish-owned reseller, warned its results for 2006 would be lower than anticipated, and announced it was to buy British firm Mentec for €16m.
Roaming charges are set to plummet after European ministers supported plans to cap the fees, but some countries are supporting watered down proposals. EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding wants to cut prices by up to 70 percent before next summer, allowing European mobile users to make cheaper phone calls on their summer holidays. The move is no surprise to industry watchers - the Commission put forward the proposal in July, claiming that the prices charged to roam on networks when abroad were excessive. However, it is not yet a done deal - Britain, backed by France, is also trying to throw a spanner in the works. UK Industry minister Margaret Hodge claims enforced price cuts would be too much for the phone companies to bear, and is instead seeking more time for mobile operators to adopt voluntary price cuts. This could delay the introduction of regulation. Some 14 countries preferred that the regulation of the industry be introduced only as a last resort. However, Reding is not keen on the idea, as she claims it would be too complex to monitor the price cuts of the individual tariffs of each mobile operator to see if they had fallen enough. The proposed cap will also be debated by the European Parliament. "The first reading of the European Parliament is expected to be completed in the first quarter 2007. The new EU regulation can therefore be expected to enter into effect before the end of the German Presidency (end of June 2007)," the Telecoms council said in a statement. The meeting on Monday discussed issues such as how much scope operators should have at wholesale level to deal with roaming charges, what services the price regulation should cover and how much regulation should be put in place at retail level. However, while consumers may be eagerly awaiting the price cuts, the mobile operators have strongly resisted the moves. They have also made some progress towards cutting the charges themselves. Irish operators O2, Vodafone and Three Ireland have abolished roaming charges across Ireland and Britain. Roaming charges around the EU have also fallen by about 18 per cent, but this was not sufficient to stop Reding introducing the proposed regulation. Copyright © 2006, ENN
Research in Motion (RIM) has taken Samsung to task over the name of the South Korean giant's latest smart phone. RIM reckons Samsung's BlackJack has a name that's too close to its own smart-phone brand, BlackBerry, for comfort - and it's asked the US District Court for Central California to force a change of handle.
AMD has formally begun renaming ATI's CrossFire 1600 and 3200 chipsets as AMD products, a month after news of the scheme first broke. As expected, the two parts will now be called, respectively, the 480X and the 580X.
Intel is to oust its Celeron D 326, 346, 351 and 355 processors, the company has told its customers. Orders for the products become unchangeable on 2 February 2007, and no further orders will be accepted after 6 April 2007, Intel documents reveal.
HP's CEO Mark Hurd plans to stick with what he knows best: cost cutting. Hurd – who sharpened his fat cleaver at NCR – plans to squeeze HP even more in the coming year. Some might think this impossible after HP cut its workforce by 10 per cent, sliced into the company retirement plan and consolidated its internal IT functions. The CEO, however, vowed to keep right on cutting, during an analyst conference in New York.
AMD has quietly added a pair of top-of-the-line Athlon 64 X2 processors to its public price list. Missing from the list when AMD introduced its 65nm processors on 5 December, the 5400+ and 5600+ have now been added to the line-up. Shhhh, don't mention it - someone might want to buy one...
Sony will ship its latest external DVD writer, the DRX-830UL-T, later this month, the company announced today. It's pitching the drive at both Mac and Windows users, bundling suitable burning software for both platforms, and equipping it with USB 2.0 and Firewire ports.
Microsoft has hit back at rival Google's bundled packages of online services by releasing one of its own.
Microsoft issued seven patches on Tuesday - one more than expected - as part of its monthly Patch Tuesday update cycle. Three of the updates earn the dreaded rating of critical.
Light up your life this Christmas with an iPod and IXOS' Disco Cube, an multi-hued speaker unit that pulses colour in time to the music. It'll keep your player fully charged and with a Dock pass-through point it will happily be your sync cradle too.
The Royal Society has said everyday technologies such as mobile phones and personal computers should be used more in healthcare.
Anyone - well, almost - can come up with a stack of sexy looking handset designs lovingly rendering in a 3D graphics package and given extra shine in Photoshop - witness all the fanboy-created pics out there. However, phone biz newcomer UK- and Dubai-based Neo is adamant its visualisations will see light to day as real products.
Small companies are keen to embrace VoIP, but still aren’t seeing the real advantages of convergence. An Orange-commissioned report, which goes under the catchy title of Small and Medium Enterprise Business Communications in the UK, is drawn from on-line interviews with 181 UK SMEs and asks about their current spending as well as plans for the future. It turns out that 57 per cent of the SMEs interviewed are already using VoIP, with a similar number planning to invest in the technology over the next six months: either starting to use it or increasing their usage. But VoIP is still seen primarily as a cost-saving technology, rather than enabling new applications or leading to converged communications. The poll found 5 per cent of respondents had no idea what convergence is, and 20 per cent felt it simply meant one bill for all communications services. When it comes to picking a single supplier for all your communication needs, a concept Orange is keen to promote, then 55 per cent thought the advantage would be a single point of contact, while only 33 per cent felt it might enable new applications. The good news, for the communications companies, is that 17 per cent of SMEs said they would go with a single supplier even if it wasn’t the cheapest option. While the sample size is quite small, and the companies were selected from the readership of Silicon.com so might be atypical, the trend towards converged services is significant. While cost is currently the primary driver towards converged solutions, it’s nice to see that the other advantages are starting to be realised.®
OpinionOpinion How long would it take to train you to be a Vista trainer? How about: how long would it take you to learn how to train Vista trainers? Does it matter? Surely, it wouldn't take long. And even if it takes a month - surely there are plenty of trainers!
Dell has named Steve Schuckenbrock, late of EDS, as the new head of its global services division. Schuckenbrock was one of two chief operating officers at EDS - he left the company in May. EDS joined forces with Dell, and other hardware companies, in late 2004 to form the Agility Alliance whereby EDS provided services on top of hardware contracts.
ReviewReview We previewed LG's Blu-ray drive a few weeks ago and it's the third Blu-ray burner we've tested, the first was the SH-B022 from Samsung, the second being Pioneer's BDR-101A. That had a 2x BD-R burn speed and cost £699 back in August, although it now fetches £520. In comparison, this new LG has a faster burn speed and retails for £459 - still a huge amount of money but an indication that prices are moving in the right direction...
Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion Due to the overwhelming success of our last Christmas Gifts ideas promotion (well, we sat there for 5 minutes and thought “what would we like to receive instead of the everlasting socks?”), we thought we’d treat you with another helping of slapstick fun, computing history and items of interest, still with up to 40 per cent off! You cleared us out of the last set of titles (almost!) so let’s see what you can do with these. Yet again, we have titles that should appeal to the geek in all of us, so have a butcher’s at the books below and get your order in today. BYTE-ing Satire: A Light-Hearted Poke in Technology's Eye Skewering a vast array of technology topics that apply to IT professionals and laypeople alike, this compilation of MC Press' popular MC TNT Tips 'n Tirades online column follows the author as he searches for the answer to that eternal question: Is technology more hindrance than help? In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters, Second Edition It's a funny and well-written business book that takes a look at some of the most influential marketing and business philosophies of the last twenty years. Through the dark glass of hindsight, it provides an educational and entertaining look at why these philosophies didn't work for many of the world's largest and best-known high-tech companies. The Bumper Book of Government Waste Welcome to the world of waste. You are about to enter a twilight zone of crazy spending, political correctness, utter incompetence, and fantastic jollies all funded by the British tax payer - and by tax payer, we mean you. Digital Retro This book tells the story behind 40 classic home computers of an infamous decade, from the dreams and inspiration, through passionate inventors and corporate power struggles, to their final inevitable extinction, and subsequent worship by the nostalgic collectors market. Digital Retro is an essential read for anyone who owned a home computer in the Eighties. The Encyclopedia of Game Machines: Consoles, Handhelds & Home Computers 1972-2005 More than 450 dream machines, from million-dollar sellers to exotic variants, are celebrated in this exhaustive reference to video gaming systems. iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: Getting to the Core of Apple's Inventor After 25 years of avoiding the public eye, Steve Wozniak breaks his silence and tells the full story of the Apple computer, from its conception to his views on the iconic cult status it enjoys today. Go Digital: Keep the Past Alive! Discover how to breathe new life into material you thought was frozen in time forever. Clean up the sounds of scratches and hiss from old albums. Re-edit home movies into tighter, more professional looking productions. Organize your past financial data into a database so you can find that all important tax record quickly instead of searching through boxes. iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business iCon takes a look at the most astounding figure in a business era noted for its mavericks, oddballs, and iconoclasts. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Jeffrey Young and William Simon provide new perspectives on the legendary creation of Apple, detail Jobs’s meteoric rise, and the devastating plunge that left him not only out of Apple, but out of the computer-making business entirely. The Downloader's Handbook: Your Complete Guide to Using Broadband for Downloading, & Ripping Music & Film The mass arrival of broadband has caused a revolution on the internet. The major activity online is now the downloading of music and video files. Music download services offer millions of songs for immediate download to users and where music has led, film is about to follow. Greetings in Jesus Name!: The Scambaiter Letters Letters asking us for money for orphans, for victims of hurricanes, letters telling us we've won the Spanish lottery, letters telling us we have been contacted because we are known to be of good integrity and could be trusted to bank 30 million in our saving's account, for a generous fee of 10 per cent of the sum. To most of us the letters are an irritant. To Michael Berry they are a call to arms. ®
Pond-dwelling scammers have developed a new cyber-extortion ruse. Unlike previous cases where end users were targeted with malware that encrypted files, which hackers claimed could only be recovered if victims yielded to extortionate demands for money, the latest trick involves attempts to milk money from the victims of compromised web-mail accounts. Consumers who log into their accounts after an attack find their messages and online contacts have been deleted. All that is left in their accounts is a message from cyber-blackmailers that requests payment if they want to see their data again. Net security firm Websense said it became aware of the attack after reports from an end-user, who reckons his credentials were compromised after he signed into his account in a cyber-cafe. ®
WiFi hotspot aggregator The Cloud sees a future in providing guest access to company networks, but do they just have a solution in search of a problem? The problem works like this: you have a nice WiFi network running in your office, and in walks a contractor who’s only going to be there for a day or two but will need internet access. Allowing said contractor to log on to the WiFi might provide the appropriate access, but might also provide access to all sorts of internal resources which should be for employees only. Even worse is someone who travels to your office for a meeting; at the end of the meeting they ask if they can connect up to check their e-mail. Refusing seems petty, while acceding is a security risk. According to a survey sponsored by The Cloud 21 per cent of business would allow the meeting attendee to connect up, while 59 per cent would connect up the contractor only by arrangement, leaving the visitor to find a cyber-cafe. Asked why the majority would leave their guests disconnected 35 per cent said it was an unacceptable security risk, and 25 per cent were worried about the legal ramifications of acting as a service provider. But 37 per cent felt that the cost and effort of providing such access wasn’t worth it. Which is where The Cloud intend to step in next year with their GuestBridge server, which will apparently give guests secure access without compromising security and dealing with the liability issues. Until January we're not going to know how much GuestBridge will cost, making a value judgment difficult. The Cloud certainly have the experience and technology, but getting companies to pay for servers might be more difficult. Is the problem really significant, and will companies pay to have it solved for them?®
Battling clotheshorse Naomi Campbell has been honoured by the Plain English Campaign with its annual "Foot in Mouth" award. The supermodel secured this year's crown for "a baffling quote made by a public figure" by reportedly declaring: "I love England, especially the food. There's nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta." The Foot in Mouth award was announced at a ceremony in London last night at which the Plain English Campaign celebrated the good, the bad and the ugly in our beloved mother tongue. Also on offer were seven "Golden Bull" prizes for royally trashing the English language. Up to the podium stepped Germaine Greer, for writing in The Guardian that the "first attribute of the art object is that it creates a discontinuity between itself and the unsynthesised manifold". She was joined by Wheale, Thomas, Hodgins plc for this splendid job advertisement: Our client is a pan-European start-up leveraging current cutting edge I.P. (already specified) with an outstanding product/value solutions set. It is literally the right product, in the right place at the right time… by linking high-value disparate legacy systems to achieve connectivity between strategic partners/acquisition targets and/or disparate corporate divisions. The opportunity exists to be the same (i.e. right person etc. etc) in a growth opportunity funded by private equity capital that hits the 'sweet-spot' in major cost driven European markets. Good to see the Strategy Boutiques have finally received the recognition they deserve. The full list of shame is available here. ®
A jointly sponsored Microsoft and Novell survey purporting strong customer support for the companies’ controversial alliance looks like back firing on Novell.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has snapped a mile-high mountain range on Saturn's moon Titan, the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced yesterday. Titan's sierra - possibly capped with methane "snow" - runs just to the south of the moon's equator for around 150km (93 miles). It's about 30km (19 miles) wide and reaches 1.5km into Titan's atmosphere. The pic seen here was obtained on 25 October during a Cassini flyby "designed to obtain the highest resolution infrared views of Titan yet". It's a composite image grabbed from a distance of 12,000km (7,200 miles). Dr Bob Brown, team leader of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer at the University of Arizona, said: "We see a massive mountain range that kind of reminds me of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the western United States. This mountain range is continuous and is nearly 100 miles long." The boffins reckon the mountains "probably formed when material welled up from below to fill the gaps opened when tectonic plates pull apart, similar to the way mid-ocean ridges are formed on Earth". Dr Larry Soderblom, Cassini interdisciplinary scientist at the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, elaborated: "These mountains are probably as hard as rock, made of icy materials, and are coated with different layers of organics. "There seem to be layers and layers of various coats of organic 'paint' on top of each other on these mountain tops, almost like a painter laying the background on a canvas. Some of this organic gunk falls out of the atmosphere as rain, dust, or smog onto the valley floors and mountain tops, which are coated with dark spots that appear to be brushed, washed, scoured and moved around the surface." There's more on the mountains of Titan here. ®
Well, you asked for it, and now you've got it: Radio RTFM Episode 2 is available for download right now, right here, or hit the player below for an instant fix. Before you do, though, bear in mind that it's probably NSFW... Episode 2 in all its glory And when you've recovered from that, you can get your favourite bits in bite-sized portions below: Aladdin The London cabbie Have a nice flight The Wikifinder General Credits Big up rispek as ever to voice artists Hils Barker and Silas Hawkins, and technician Phil Corran down at Cut Glass Studios. A hearty pat on the back too for Phil "Philipe" Mitchell of El Reg's Strategy Boutique for his producer's role and Drew Cullen, who penned the news. Archive Radio RTFM Episode 1 RSS feeds Point your news aggregator in the direction of our Radio RTFM RSS feeds as follows: www.theregister.co.uk/odds/rtfm/headlines.rss and www.theregister.com/odds/rtfm/headlines.rss. You'll get the latest episode delivered straight to your doorstep as an enclosure.
The reaction of many people to the idea of playing sports games on Nintendo's new Wii console is to shout: "Get a life and go do it for real." Well, you could say they same thing about this USB pole dancer toy, launched today.
The European Commission has quietly iced plans to reform copyright levies, just days before they were due to go into effect. The proposals would have allowed governments to dump levies on electronic media devices. The levies are collected by copyright groups to compensate artists for private reproduction of their work, and the reforms were vehemently opposed by artists and the French. Reuters reports that a Commission spokeswoman told reporters, “"The Commission has decided more reflection is required on this complex issue. When it is ready, it will bring it on the agenda of the Commission." This of course, makes perfect sense. If there’s one thing Brussels is good at, it’s taking even more time to reflect on things. Less happy is the Copyright Levies Reforms Alliance which represents the markers of devices from photo copiers to MP3 players. It said that collecting agencies were themselves under scrutiny for failing to be transparent on how they distribute the cash they collect. It predicted a flurry of complains to the Commission as companies force the issue of levy reform tackle what they see as “infringements” by certain member states. This will, it claims, eventually shift the issue into the European Court of Justice. A spokesman for the Alliance blasted the decision, saying, “it is clear to industry that the Commission has abandoned any serious efforts to establish transparency, efficiency and fairness in the way these levies are set, collected and distributed, let alone its publicly stated ambition to promote ’better regulation’ in Europe.”®
The council of Kingston in Surrey is to carry out a "humane cull" of pigeons in the town's Memorial Gardens, the Surrey Comet reports. The cull will be carried out by "a private pest control contractor from Cobham as part of a three-year programme to reduce Kingston's pigeon population". Town centre manager Graham McNally said the council had "considered other ways of culling before deciding on shooting, and explained: "At this moment in time, a specialist marksman will be used to shoot the pigeons. I can definitely say there will be no gassing and no poisoning. The cull will be carried out discreetly." All pretty straighforward, you might think. The issue has, however, provoked a flurry of comments on the Surrey Comet website, including the assertion that Kingston is right to act against pigeonkind because the birds carry "all manner of diseases like AIDS, malaria, rabies and mad cow disease to name but a few". That's according to Martin Wildoat who adds: "They are also very aggressive and I can vouch for this as I was attacked by a flock and pecked severely while on my way home from flower arranging classes. In fact I would be more than happy to help in the killing of these evil creatures. Well done Kingston council keep up the good work." Norman Ski disagrees, and writes: This is preposterous! Pigeons performed a vital role in assisting communications in both World Wars and should therefore be encouraged to breed in higher numbers in order to remind us that we must never forget. Perhaps the money would be better spent erecting a large memorial of a Rock Pigeon or perhaps a Feral Pigeon - I'll leave that decision to the council. I don't think a Wood Pigeon memorial would be particularly appropriate because I don't think they did too much for us during the war. Other than food. Norman Farnsbarns McArthey is also against the cull, but has little sympathy for the winged layabouts: I say train the blighters to do an honest days work and to earn their right to live in Her Royal Majesties Royal borough. Maybe they could be trained to assist the police as they could spot crime while on high and report back to the station swiftly. The more aggressive ones could become a sort of elite police flighting unit that could intervene in violent incidents that are sadly becoming all to common in our wonderful town. Mr Dallinger, meanwhile, thinks there may be a better way to tackle the pigeon menace: I think the correct solution would be to hack the wings off as many pigeons as possible before joining them together to create one large wing. This could be wafted at the pigeons by any member of the townsfolk when numbers got too high. Children could also shelter under it at times of heavy rain or possibly loud thunder. And finally, try this heartfelt contribution from "Fancy Coo-Coo": I'm horrified at the very idea anyone might want to harm these gentle creatures. I myself was raised by pigeons after being abandoned in Trafalgar Square as a young nipper. Therefore I know how noble and generous a species they really are. If anyone were to kill a pigeon in this way, it would be as though they are slaughtering one of my own family. It's murder, I say! Good stuff. A round of applause for the Surrey Comet in preserving these and other equally insightful comments for posterity. You can enjoy the whole debate right here. ®
Compuware has opted for the software factory approach to increase the level of automation it can provide in applications development with the latest version of its Java-based OptimalJ development suite, version 4.2. This is also to be known as the Architecture Edition. Its arrival marks the transition of all OpitmalJ editions onto the Eclipse platform, where it will be able to exploit the growing range of open source plug-ins to provide developers with significant amounts of design flexibility. By using the software factory approach, it also aims to cut the development cost over-runs that occur in fixing applications once in production, by giving developers a better chance to get it right first time. It is using the factory approach to target architectural consistency by combining meta-models and transformations that are packaged up as factories and distributed throughout a development team. This is expected to reduce the amount of time developers spend on routine coding, as well as improving architectural tasks that can take up large lumps of time. These include such jobs as establishing the traceability between requirements, design models and application code. Architectural decisions can now be enforced via model-to-model transformations, which should make the development cycle a good deal shorter.®
ISP Biscit has won its High Court case against NetServices. The case started after London-based Biscit bought ISP V21 in October. NetServices sent Biscit an invoice for "burst bandwidth" charges accrued by V21, which Biscit disputed. In November the dispute escalated when Salford-based NetServices switched off V21's wholesale DSL provision. In late November NetServices reconnected customers prior to a "bulk cease" by BT, which would leave customers free to sign up to any provider they wished. NetServices must now return all of Biscit's authentication realms like v21.co.uk, speeddsl.com, and ispnet to Biscit, the service provider said. Hugh Paterson, chief executive of Biscit, told The Register: "This means no interruptions to customers over Christmas. We've won the battle and now we will be seeking damages from NetServices." NetServices was not available to comment. In other news Ofcom announced today it is changing the way MAC(Migration Access Code) numbers are given out to consumers. You need a MAC number to easily switch broadband providers but most providers charge you for the privilege and some have been accused of dragging their feet. From Valentine's Day next year Ofcom says ISPs will have to provide such numbers for free. Ofcom hopes the changes will be enough but will consult for the next six months to ensure the changes make life easier for consumers. More from Ofcom here.®
US consumer rights organisation the Federal Trade Commission has joined up with law enforcement agencies to launch a crackdown on bogus job opportunity scams. Project FAL$E HOPE$ encompasses 100 law enforcement actions against various bogus work-at-home scams. The bogus business opportunities targeted include vending machines, ATM and Internet terminals, display racks for coffee and ink cartridges, Internet-based businesses, envelope stuffing, medical billing, and others. Scammers bilked $30m from job-seeking victims in four of the cons targeted by the FTC alone, the agency reports. The crackdown brings existing and new cases together under the same umbrella as well as encompassing an education program designed to assist ad sales staff in weeding out bogus business opportunities. "Bogus business opportunities trample on Americans’ dreams of financial independence," said FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras. "If a business opportunity promises no risk, little effort, and big profits, it almost certainly is a scam. These scams offer only a money pit, where no matter how much time and money is invested, consumers never achieve the riches and financial freedom promised." Tips for consumers in avoiding business opportunity scams are explained on the FTC web site here. ®
The leader of one of the world's most prolific ID theft gangs was sentenced to six years imprisonment at a hearing in London's Harrow Crown Court on Wednesday. Two other members of the same gang have been jailed for five years and eighteen months respectively. Anton Dolgov (AKA Anton Gelonkin), a former boss of the ill-fated Moscow City Bank, masterminded the theft of millions from victims across Europe and north America. The gang created false identities to apply for credit cards under bogus names. Electronic items and goods such as cameras bought using these cards were later sold through eBay auctions. The gang also set up online gambling accounts under false names, whose winnings were directed to bank accounts held under bogus names and established through forged documents. Investigators reckon the scam might have been running for up to 10 years prior to its discovery. But the case against the gang centered on its activities between June 2003 and January 2005 during which time the gang made an estimated £750,000 through its various criminal enterprises, The Times reports. UK police began investigating the case after Spanish officers arrested another suspected gang member, Andreas Fuhrmann, who is currently awaiting trial in Spain. This arrest prompted Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant for Anthony Peyton, one of Gelonkin's numerous aliases. The suspect was tracked down after he reported a burglary at one of his UK offices. A subsequent raid by officers from the Met's Serious and Organised Crime unit in north Kensington uncovered a wealth of evidence. However much of this data was lost to investigators after another member of the gang, Aleksei Kostap, succeeded in flicking a switch on a ceiling of the gang's headquarters that wiped data, despite being under arrest and in handcuffs at the time, The Times adds. Kostap, 31, from Estonia, denied involvement in the scam but was subsequently found guilty of a series of fraud offences and of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, the latter because of his database wiping hijinks. Gelonkin, 42, admitted four conspiracy charges and another gang member, Romanos Vasilauskas, 24, from Lithuania, confessed to the possession of three false passports. At a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Gelonkin was imprisoned for six years and Kostap for five years. Vasilauskas was jailed for 18 months at an earlier sentencing hearing. ®
UCLA has warned 800,000 current and former students that their personal details might have been exposed to a hacker who broke into the university's computer systems. Staff members are also affected by what's being described as one of the biggest information disclosure breaches on record. The names and personal details (including addresses and Social Security numbers) of students and workers at the California institution were left open by a series of attacks against a restricted database between October 2005 and late November 2006, when the intrusion was eventually detected after UCLA techies noticed an "exceptionally high volume of suspicious database queries". The FBI have been called in to investigate the case. Meanwhile UCLA said it was in the process of deploying enhanced IT security defences. Jim Davis, UCLA's chief information officer, said that the hacker used an unspecified (and as yet undetermined) application vulnerability to gain access to systems without being detected. An internal investigation conducted after the breach was detected found that the hacker "specifically sought Social Security numbers", he added. Although there's no evidence to date that the compromised data has been used in ID theft scams, acting chancellor Norman Abrams advises students and staff to keep a close eye on financial transactions made in their name using credit reporting agencies. UCLA has established a website and a toll-free phone number, 877 533-8082, in order to handle queries on the breach from concerned alumni. The UCLA incident is the latest in a string of computer security breaches affecting financial institutions, universities and other large enterprises in the US. California's information security breaches disclosure law requires notification of these incidents in cases where personal data might have been disclosed. In related news, an unspecified number of Honeywell workers were warned that their personal details might have been exposed following the theft of a PC from Denver offices of Affiliated Computer Services (a firm which handles human relations database records) in November. The theft is the second PC theft security flap incident to affect Honeywell workers this year. Data held on the PC included the personal details of 1.4 million people hired by Honeywell and other firms in the eight months prior to the theft as well as information on people receiving family services in Colorado. Workers potentially hit by the breach are being offered fraud protection worth up to $25,000 for a year at no charge and a credit reference reporting service, the Arizona Republic reports.®
British Home Secretary John Reid today vowed to cleanse the internet of Entartete Kunst, or degenerate art. Reid says he wants "computer generated" images of child abuse prohibited. In the UK, it's illegal to harbour photographs, but legal to harbour artwork of child abuse. "I am currently consulting cabinet colleagues about how we might ban the possession of computer-generated images of child abuse, including cartoons or other graphic illustrations of children being abused... while it is illegal to distribute these abhorrent images, it is entirely legal to possess them," Reid told the first meeting of the newly-formed Internet Child Safety Task Force. The move is sure to raise questions that pit self-expression against the desire to clean up the net. We raised a couple of these with the Home Office. Firstly, would work of artistic merit fall under the guidelines? For example, would an image of one of Jake and Dinos Chapman's sexualized sculptures of children qualify? And secondly, was the Home Secretary seeking to criminalize role playing gamers? Bizarre as it is, on the much-hyped VR environment Second Life, some subscribers represent themselves as children, in the expectation of being abused. You can (if you wish) see a "child" being "raped" by an avatar of Star Trek's Lt. Spock, here. "It's too early to say whether something will or not be in a law that we haven't started consulting on," a Home Office spokesperson told us. "We're putting together a consultation document - we're just at the starting point." ®
Symantec made another effort to drop its “oh the virus guys” image today when it unveiled two services programmes pitched at enterprise customers.
While Google seeks to encroach on enterprise rivals with its SaS (Software as a Service) offerings such as Google Office, it needs to watch its rear. IBM and Yahoo! teamed up today for an attack on Google's home turf of search. The pair will give IBM's existing OmniFind corporate search engine away for free, targeting SMEs and workgroups. The paid-for OmiFind isn't cheap: with a list price of $18,750 for a site license and support contract. It's tuned to Lotus Notes and Domino, and IBM says it offers a higher degree of control over search results: distinguishing between drafts and final versions of documents, for example. It's almost five years since Google launched its "search appliance", the product receiving a refresh in 2005. The company understandably found itself with higher priority products: the following year it followed Overture into the contextual ad business, one that today provides Google with 99 per cent of its revenue. Yahoo! said its role in the partnerships shouldn't be seen as an enterprise move - merely that it wanted raise its profile, so cubicle-dwellers used its search engine more often. Google has increased its lead over Yahoo! in terms of web searches in 2006. ®
Venture capitalist and HP watchdog Tom Perkins has signed on with Penguin to pen a tell all memoir. The book "Valley Boy: The Education of Tom Perkins" will start with Perkins' role in the HP spy scandal, according to a report in the NY Post. The former HP board member went first to HP CEO Mark Hurd and then the press with his concerns over the phone fraud techniques employed by the company to spy on board members. Ultimately, Perkins' disclosures forced the spy issue into the public domain. Perkins' autobiography will also cover his time as an HP engineer, work at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and his brief marriage to romance novelist Danielle Steele. On the romance front, Perkins wrote his own "not autobiographical" piece called "Sex and the Single Zillionaire." Tired of spending money on yachts and houses, Perkins now seems desperate to stay in the limelight. ®
A world famous Swedish file sharing links site has begun a campaign against a major Swedish internet service provider (ISP) after it blocked access to controversial Russian site Allofmp3.com. In what has become a war of attrition, Piratebay has blocked subscribers to ISP Perspektiv because Perspektiv blocked users' access to Allofmp3.com. The intention is likely to be to encourage Perspektiv users to leave the company by blocking access to the enormously popular Piratebay. "After careful consideration we have, for the first time ever, decided to block an ISP because of their management," said a statement from Piratebay in an informal translation posted online by a third party. Allofmp3.com is controversial because the US and European record label industry groups say it is illegal but the company says the music download site complies with Russian copyright law. It pays into a collecting society but that society is reported not to have made payments to artists. The US music industry and government have both lobbied the Russian government hard to have copyright law changed and to encourage the government to clamp down on Allofmp3.com. It is that kind of lobbying which Piratebay seems to suspect is at play in Perspektiv. The group's statement said that it believed that Perspektiv had put the interests of powerful media companies above the interests of their subscribers. File sharing is much more socially acceptable in Sweden than in other European countries. Downloading music there was only recently made illegal and a political group connected to Piratebay stood in the last Swedish elections. Around 1.2 million Swedes, out of a population of nine million, told the census that they are involved in file sharing. "As one of the larges websites in Sweden we will not sit silently and watch some of our basic rights be restricted," said the Piratebay statement. "If we want a working and good society even on the internet we must stand up for one another and show courage when it is needed." "Perspektiv Bredband has every right in the world to block whichever site they want on their own net," it said. "And their customers have every right in the world to change to a new ISP which does not take upon itself the task of ensuring collective conscience." Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
German states have postponed a decision on whether or not to ban online gambling. The federal states met today to discuss the plan to outlaw the activity in a move that could destabilise a Europe-wide plan to harmonise gambling. Online gambling was controversially banned in the US in September of this year when a bill was attached to a port security law and passed quickly through the legislature. The effect on online gambling companies was dramatic, with share prices dipping instantly and some fearing for their existence. PartyGaming and 888, for example, are said to be considering a merger in order to stay in business. A European trend towards banning online gambling could hit companies further. Already two German states have acted and others may follow. The heads of the individual German states met today to discuss a ban and decided to put off the decision. Already three German states, Bavaria, Saxony and Hesse, have instituted their own ban. Most of the states run monopoly lotteries and are keen to protect their position, said German paper Handelsblatt. The European Commission is fighting to open up and liberalise the European gambling market, but faces opposition from local and national governments who want to preserve their lottery and gambling monopolies. The three south German states who have outlawed online gambling were doing so because they ruled that an Austrian company, Bwin Interactive, infringed their monopoly. Bwin welcomed today's move. “This decision is a very sensible one,” said Steffen Pfennigwerth, owner of Bwin in Germany, a 50 per cent joint venture with Austria's Bwin Interactive. “The states will now have sufficient time to develop a legal framework for the German betting market in accordance with European law and the constitution," said Pfennigwerth. Bwin was also involved in controversy in France when its two chief executives were arrested. Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger are jointly chief executive of Bwin Interactive Entertainment, the Austrian firm behind Betandwin, and appeared before a French judge in September accused of violating France's gaming laws. The lawyer for the pair said that the action was "objectionable" and that it was commercially motivated. French company La Francaise de Jeux (FDJ) operates a sports betting and lottery monopoly. The company is 72% owned by the French state. "FDJ has launched a full-fledge diversification campaign, boasts a two-digit annual growth rate and, through its Euro Million game, is reaching out to countries other than France. The interest of FDJ is solely financial. If you let FDJ grow, then other gaming companies should also be allowed into France," said the pair's lawyer Frederic Manin. The arrest of the men followed a complaint by the company to Europe that France's gaming laws conflicted with the open competition principles of the EC Treaty. Should Europe find that to be the case it would likely apply to all countries, including Germany, if it changes its gambling laws. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
With the likes of AJAX coming to the fore in Java-based Web 2.0-oriented enterprise applications there is little surprise in companies like JBoss revamping development tools to match the changes. That’s OK then, for this is exactly what the company has done with the Seam application framework.
The announcement last week of a partnership between Las Vegas Sands, Inc., and British-based Cantor Gaming to start an online casino in the first quarter of 2007 is only adding fuel to the allegations on the part of European competitors that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act is primarily protectionist in nature. The Sands operates premier real-world properties such as The Venetian hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, and is one of the largest gambling and resort companies in the world, although it trails both Harrah’s and MGM Mirage in overall size. It has moved aggressively into Macau, the new gambling hotspot, and the announcement indicates an intention to pursue the European online market equally aggressively. For its part, Cantor Gaming is a part of the Cantor Fitzgerald financial services group. The upscale clientele Cantor can bring to the table had to be an attractive target to the Sands, and the partnership is something of a coup in light of MGM’s apparent inability to get a deal done for Ladbrokes. In the week since the announcement, however, comments on gambling gossip sites have been less than enthusiastic about American expansion into foreign gaming markets. No one is quite sure if the Sands is simply testing the waters by buying a little expertise for the future, or serious about promoting its brands in Europe. In light of the Sands’ strong moves in Asia (the company’s second major casino in Macau will open in 2007, and it has another on the way for Singapore opening in 2009) here at the Reg we’d be inclined to take the threat seriously. Others have been more sanguine, expressing hope that a successful online casino run by an established American outfit might pacify US authorities. The partnership does make sense. Cantor has only been in the gaming industry since 2005, and the Sands people have oodles of experience in the gaming side. Cantor would bring access to large amounts of investment banking- generated cash, as well as a ritzy client base. It could well turn out to be a solid partnership. It also makes sense in light of the continuing consolidation in the online gaming sector. Bet365.com this week announced a merger with Bowman’s, a well established British gaming company. Size matters to those in for the long haul. The gaming gossips may fume about American expansion at the same time as they bash foreign attempts to penetrate its own gaming market, but the future of online gaming looks increasingly American. Not that Americans will get to play, of course. ®
Besieged by hedge fund managers and anxious Apple stockholders, research outfit Forrester today sought to distance itself from reporting of its research into digital download sales at Apple's iTunes Store. It's standing by its figures - it just wishes the spin was different. And it's added some new spin of its own. On Monday, Forrester published a study of 27 months of data gleaned from credit card transactions at the iTunes store. It's a fascinating survey, based on empirical data, into usage habits that we'd only been able to gauge anecdotally. The figures revealed enormous growth up to January 2006 - but bad news for the next six months. Sales had fallen 65 per cent, a much larger drop than the seasonal fall (39 per cent) of 2005. These mirror Neilsen Soundscan data which show three quarters of flat and declining sales at digital download sites across the board: confirming the trend isn't just a problem for Apple. "Where's the good news?" Josh Bernoff asked us rhetorically, in an interview on Monday. There was much else of interest in Forrester's valuable study - in contrast to Apple's own spin, which focusses on the millions and billions of downloads - it reveals that the public's appetite for shopping such digital download sites is tepid and spasmodic. There's no stickiness here that will help the music business offset falling CD sales. But in the next two days, Apple's stock declined by 3 per cent - causing managers at the brittle financial pyramid schemes called "hedge funds" to call Forrester in distress. Bernoff says representatives of the mainstream press (which rarely loses an opportunity to laud Apple) also contacted him, also in a state of consternation. It's a testament to the ignorance of Wall Street's gamblers, and the collective herd mentality of the business press, that Forrester's research should cause such a panic. Apple's dazzling growth in recent years has been earned from selling portable music hardware - not digital downloads. The company readily admits the iTunes Store contributes next to nothing to the bottom line. And so long as people want portable digital music, and Apple continues to make the most attractive portable digital music player, and the public can transfer music they've bought elsewhere onto that player - Apple's growth should continue. But rationality rarely enters the equation, when the American press discusses its darling. Bernoff didn't contact us in response to our story, but instead mounted his blog to castigate "press credibility" ... particularly of "an outfit called The Register." We'd been downgraded! Forrester says it wants the spin today to focus on other aspects of its research other than the 65 per cent drop. It can't quite agree on the spin - "growth has slowed" says researcher Remy Fiorentino while Josh Bernoff says sales have "levelled". Bernoff is correct when he urges caution: we reported his warning not to extrapolate from a few quarters in our reporting - and put the 'collapse' in inverted commas. A 'collapse' it is indeed - few businesses can afford to ignore a 65 per cent in sales - but when married to the Neilsen data, we suggested that this brief era in the history of digital music may be drawing to a close - and the next one beginning. It's a pity today that beseiged by parties who have vested interests, and their own agendas, Forrester wants to downplay the implications of its valuable work - and instead it finds itself doing crisis management on behalf of Apple. ®
While customers divide their sales almost equally between IBM, Sun Microsystems and HP, they like doing business with Big Blue best of all, according to a recent study.
A disaffected former sysadmin at UBS Paine Webber was sentenced today to 97months without parole for unleashing a logic bomb on the company's network and causing $3m damage. Roger Duronio, 64, of Bogota, NJ who was found guilty of computer fraud in July was also ordered to make $3.1 million in restitution to UBS Paine Webber. The rogue employee was sentenced to the maximum term suggested under US sentencing guidelines. “This was a fitting, appropriately long sentence, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said. "Duronio acted out of misplaced vengeance and greed. He sought to do financial harm to a company and to profit from that, but he failed on both counts." Duronio, who had worked at UBS for two years, was paid a salary of $125,000 by the bank and was expecting a bonus of $50,000. When he only got $32,000 he resigned and decided to take revenge on the bank. He created the logic bomb which would delete all the files in the host server in the central data centre and then every server in every branch. On March 4, 2002 some 2,000 servers did go down and 400 branch offices were hit. Backup systems did not work and files were deleted. Expecting the share price of UBS, the parent company of UBS Paine Webber, to fall in response to the damage caused by the logic bomb, Duronia purchased more than $21,000 in put option contracts for UBS's stock. A put option is a type of security that increases in value when a stock price drops, explains the New Jersey Attorney General's office. But Duronio got it wrong, it says. "Market conditions at the time suggest there was no such impact on the UBS, A.G. stock price." At his trial it was revealed that the day the "defendant quit UBS he walked out of their offices and straight to his broker’s office to bet against UBS. His broker, Gerry Speziale, testified that an angry Duronio came to his office and said words to the effect, 'God knows what I can do to get even'." ®
Symantec is seeking damages of more than $15m from a gang of counterfeiters, for selling fake copies of its software worldwide. It has filed civil suit in the US District Court in Los Angeles against seven individuals, two companies, ANYI and SILI Inc., and eight associated business fronts.