19th > December > 2006 Archive
A week or so ago I met Geoff Brace, a Director of Owldata Ltd, at a BCS CMSG (Configuration Management Special Interest Group) seminar on ITIL - yes Matilda, ITIL is relevant to developers. We got into a discussion about testing, sparked by this article. It reminded Geoff about some attempts he'd made to predict defect rates in software - "if testing finds a defect rate above a certain threshold," Geoff suggests, "perhaps the code should be rejected [and rewritten] rather than tested further". This makes sense: if your testing is estimated at 50 per cent efficient, then finding 20 bugs means you probably have 20 left. The more you find, the more likely the software is to be defective when you finish (making some assumptions about the quality and consistency of testing).
Oracle today learned that buying double-digit growth doesn't impress investors like it used to. The insatiable software maker did its best to wow shareholders with a 26 per cent rise in second quarter revenue to $4.2bn. Net income surged as well, hitting $1.17bn on a 20 per cent year-over-year rise. The results were aided by Oracle's numerous acquisitions.
The recent security lapse at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has inspired congressional critics to pipe up once again. "No matter how many times you rearrange, re-design, retire or replace the deck chairs, Los Alamos is still the Titanic," representative Ed Markey told CBS News. "Superficial attempts to demonstrate that there is any accountability at the lab will yield no useful results until the systemic and long-standing security failures associated with both management and lab culture are fixed." The harsh comments followed CBS's revelation that the lab's second in command John Mitchell has resigned after less than a year on the job. A LANL spokesman was quick to distance Mitchell's departure from negative press surrounding a security breach, saying his retirement had "no connection to any security issues at the Laboratory." By now, most of you have heard about the lab worker who took classified documents home with her on thumb drives. The files were accidentally discovered during a drug raid on the worker's trailer. Congress has been giving LANL a hard time for years, prompting a recent management change. A consortium made up of military contractors and the University of California now runs LANL, ending UC's sole ownership of the nuclear facility. ®
The Department of Health (DoH) has stuck by the "implied consent" model for the central collection of electronic patient records in England, but will provide support for those who want to opt out Health minister announced the plan along with the publication of a taskforce report on the Care Record Service on 18 December 2006. Before records are uploaded onto the National Care Record Service (NCRS), patients will be given a chance to view their records on a section of the Healthspace website. They will be able to make corrections, give their GP consent to upload the details, or choose to have them withheld. If, after a "realistic" period, it would be assumed that those patients who have chosen not to view their summary care record are giving implied consent for it to be shared in appropriate settings. The DoH did not specify the length of the period. The move will be supported by a "robust" public information programme for the early adoption sites. This is due to begin in February 2007, in preparation for the launch of the pilot programme during the spring. There has been a sometimes fractious debate about the plan to use the opt out model for the NCRS, which will provide a central electronic record of details such as current medication, allergies and adverse reactions. Some groups, including the British Medical Association, have argued for an opt in model in which the patient would have to give explicit consent for the details to be uploaded. The BMA produced a conciliatory reaction to the announcement. Its chairman, James Johnson: "The recommendations in this report provide a good first step, and we look forward to building on this work and learning more from the roll out of the early adopter phase which should help identify any further issues before the summary care record is implemented across England in 2008. "It is crucial to the success of the NHS Care Record that the anxieties of both patients and professionals are properly dealt with and that the wishes of patients are fully respected." Warner also announced the establishment of an advisory group on the implementation of the NCRS, to be chaired by Martin Marshall, deputy chief medical officer. He said that the recommendation on a training pack for staff was already being taken forward. He added that the internet based HealthSpace, introduced in 2004, will be expanded and brought forward to be available in the summary care record early adopter sites. It will enable the public, when registered as users, to view their summary care record. The taskforce recognised the opportunity this represents for a "true patient care record." In addition, he announced the establishment of a National Information Governance Board to oversee the quality of information governance in the NHS, to offer advice on confidentiality and security of patient information, to monitor the implementation of the NHS Care Record Guarantee and to advise the secretary of state. The board will be chaired by Cayton and further details about the arrangements for the new Board will be announced shortly. Harry Cayton, the DoH director for patients, said: 'Members of the taskforce agreed that the creation of the summary care record is a tremendous opportunity to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of care for all patients but that it must be implemented with public support and clinical confidence…. We now have a clear way forward and will learn from the early adopter sites as we go along.'" Sigurd Reinton, chairman of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust and taskforce member, said: "In thinking about their options, I hope people, especially the elderly and vulnerable, will bear in mind that if we have your information then paramedics, for example, will be able to offer the best possible treatment. It is the elderly and the vulnerable who may miss out if they have to formally opt in." The taskforce noted that, until it is possible to seal off parts of the record, it should only include non-sensitive information, and handling any sensitive information should be agreed with patients. It also agreed that as the system matured the content of the record should become more complete. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Irish companies are increasingly recognising the value of technology licensing but are not investing enough in the process, according to Enterprise Ireland. Irish companies invested roughly €1.4bn in research and development in 2006, but only five per cent of this was spent on licensing. "Enterprise Ireland has some €60m to spend in its RTI (Research Technology and Innovation) and productivity funds in 2007, up to 50 per cent of which is available for licensing and technology acquisition, and we want to ensure that this money is used to best effect," said Jim Cuddy, Enterprise Ireland's manager of the Innovation and Technology Transfer department. "Why develop a technology or product yourself when it might be available elsewhere and could be licensed-in?" Enterprise Ireland's TechSearch programme assisted 35 Irish SMEs in signing technology transfer deals worth a total of €2m this year. These deals led to an increase of €5m in sales and exports for the companies involved. Participation in the programme increased 60 per cent in 2006, with around 200 companies entering the programme. Firms that have participated in the TechSearch programme include Donegal-based business Inishowen Engineering, which licensed an underwater lamp. "Many entrepreneurs who head up SMEs think their business doesn't fit the profile of a company who should take advantage of licensing, but our TechSearch programme actively supports Irish businesses through each step of the process, including finding the technology or product, evaluating potential projects, and contract negotiation," Cuddy said. Enterprise Ireland signed a partnership agreement with the National Research Council of Canada in October with the aim of getting 20 Irish companies involved in discussion on technology licensing partnerships with Canadian businesses. Copyright © 2006, ENN
A report into illicit marijuana cultivation in the US says it is now the country's biggest cash crop, having seen a tenfold increase in production over the last 25 years. DrugScience.org's Marijuana Production in the United States puts the annual harvest at 10,000 tonnes, worth a cool $35.8bn (£18.4bn). Corn, meanwhile, weighs in at a mere $23bn, with soybeans marking up $17.6bn and hay a paltry $12.2bn. Dope is apparently the "biggest cash crop in 12 states", injecting more into the Georgia economy than peanuts and blowing away tobacco in North and South Carolina, The Guardian reports. Unsurprisingly, the main centre for pot production is California, which supplies $13.8bn worth of weed annually. The principal cause of the boom seems to be drug cartels moving cultivation to the US after increased post-9/11 border security closed traditional smuggling routes from Mexico. They often create plantations in "remote national park land", The Guardian notes. The conclusion of DrugScience.org's revealing probe is, according to author Jon Gettman, that "the war on drugs is not working". He said: "Illicit marijuana cultivation provides considerable unreported revenue for growers without corresponding tax obligations to compensate the public for the social and fiscal costs related to [its] use." The logical solution is, Gettman says, to legalise the crop - something which found little favour with the the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also wants marijuana to be reclassified from its current status as a Schedule 1 drug, a category which includes heroin. ®
Ta very much to the anonymous reader who reported a suspicious email to HSBC's anti-phishing department and then forwarded us the result. Although he or she got a fairly comprehensive rundown on what to keep an eye out for in those dodgy "HSBC security alert" emails, the automated reply makes it clear that any personal feedback is unlikely for the next 44 years or so…
UpdatedUpdated Our shock report yesterday into the Worcestershire Health Authority's Sexual Health Online website has had the desired result. The site is now down "due to a sudden upsurge in bandwidth use", so our kiddies will no longer be exposed to this kind of outrage:
You've got to hand it to Kevin Warwick, aka Captain Cyborg: the bloke's got more front than Blackpool. In an interview this week with itwales.com, the cybernetic futurologist actually thanks El Reg for the extensive coverage we've dedicated to his groundbreaking work.
UK toy retailer Hamleys website was ransacked over the weekend after sharp-eyed web shoppers spotted "a glitch in a voucher scheme which allowed customers to claim a cumulative 60 per cent discount if they bought goods from the Hamleys online store", and moved in for the kill. According to The Guardian, the error was spotted by users of HotUKDeals on Saturday afternoon, and "within hours of details of the offer being posted on the internet, thousands of shoppers across the web had taken advantage of it". The result was that by Sunday morning, Hamleys e-shelves were stripped of goods at a fraction of the original price "with more than half of the top-selling doll and toy ranges out of stock". One dazed surfer reportedly described the carnage thus: "It's like the Vikings have been to Hamleys. If you get on to their site, it's been emptied and pillaged." Hamleys was caught on the hop by the onslaught, and its site reduced to a crawl. The company quickly withdrew the offer, but the effects may be serious. Hamleys doesn't yet know how many people availed themselves of the opportunity and "since the store uses a central warehouse for both its actual store and its online store, the shortage [of goods] will affect both outlets". Hamleys chief executive Nick Mather said yesterday: "We addressed this issue immediately and it was resolved within 24 hours. We would like to apologise to customers who were unable to access the website and place orders during this time." The company added it would honour "any orders made as a result of the error" - which may cost it dear. According to The Guardian, one highly-satisfied customer "boasted about ordering a full-size snooker table worth £13,000 for just over £5,000". A Hamleys spokeswoman described the Viking raid as "one of the downsides of ecommerce". ® Update It seems Hanleys later changed its mind about fulfilling those Viking orders. Here's the email (un)lucky customers received: Dear Customer Thank you for your order. Unfortunately Hamleys experienced a technical error on our site at the weekend. This resulted in you being able to apply a discount code more than once. Multiple use of the discount code contravened the terms and conditions of the offer and as a result we are unable to fulfil your order. We appreciate that at this time of year no one wants to be disappointed. As a gesture we would like to offer you a 25% discount on your next order. Rest assured if you complete your order by the end of today we will guarantee delivery before Christmas. To use the offer please enter the promotions code hamrefxxxxx at the checkout stage. This offer is more generous than the original terms of the promotion and is valid for 30 days subject to the terms and conditions below. The funds which were reserved for your order have been released to your account and will be cleared according to your bank’s procedures. No money has been taken from your account. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience that this has caused you. And hope that we can still help to make your Christmas magical. Best wishes, Hamleys
A court case over Currys' terms and conditions has exonerated the retailer over its refusal to honour a price promise. The shop argued that a tumble dryer offered for sale was different to an identical model in another shop which came with a vent kit.
Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system has just been released for corporate consumption. I have had an initial look at it from an accessibility perspective. There are a variety of new functions that aid accessibility but the big change is really one of attitude toward accessibility for users. Microsoft commissioned a survey on accessibility in 2003 by Forrester Research and the headline result was that 57 per cent of adults who are 18 to 64 years old in the USA might benefit from accessible technology. This high percentage came as a surprise to Microsoft; the designers then began to make accessibility more discoverable to all people, not just people with severe disabilities. Microsoft had already planned to improve the accessibility in Vista, but the survey changed the attitude towards accessibility. Instead of it being available to users who self-identified as having a severe disability, it had to be made easily discoverable by the majority of users who needed the features but did not consider themselves as being disabled. Anyone who uses Vista should be encouraged to look at how it is set up and see if the computer can be made easier for them to see, hear, and use. The change in attitude can be seen in several ways: The Ease of Access Centre is on the login page so you see it as soon as you log on to Vista. In XP it is buried in the control panel section. There is a new icon for the Ease of Access Centre: It was a wheelchair in XP which was unfortunate, firstly because wheelchair users who are paraplegic may not have a problem accessing PCs, and secondly it stopped other people clicking on it because they would assume it was not relevant. The new icon is abstact but bears some resemlance to the old wheelchair icon and the stylised arrows are meant to represent the different forms of input and output that are available when customising Windows Vista. However, the biggest change is in the Ease of Access Centre itself. It now includes a questionnaire that is designed to identify any impairments in the user with questions such as "Do you have any difficulty distinguishing colours" or "Does background noise make it difficult for you to speak on the phone"? Based on this series of questions, suggestions are made as to how to change the standard setup of the computer so that it is easier to see, hear, and use. This change of attitude really moves accessibility from being the concern of people with severe disabilities to being part of ease of use and therefore potentially relevant to any user. As I have argued elsewhere we are all impaired to some extent (for example I do not have the IQ of Einstein, or the eyesight of an eagle, or the hand-eye coordination of a professional computer games player) so it is important that accessiblity and ease of use are available right across the spectrum. The assisitive technology built into Vista includes an improved screen-magnifiation facility called Magnifier, a greatly improved text-to-voice system, called Narrator, the new Windows Speech Recognition system (there was one in Office XP but it was a very well kept secret), and On Screen Keyboard. Having these built-in will enable people with minor impairments to take advantage of them (in previous releases the extra cost would have greatly limited the take up). I can imagine more people dictating emails because it is quicker than typing and also reduces hand strain; or a person with dyslexia switching on the text-to-voice while still reading the screen. The improved accessibility in Vista has had a side, but important, benefit to the development of Microsoft products. The developers now have to test new products with the built-in accessibility tools. This type of testing can very quickly pick up errors; for example if you listen to a computer talking you will immediately pick up grammar errors and also get fed up if it just says "link, link, link..." without any indication of what the link is to. The importance of accessibility testing as a way to improve overall quality will be enhanced further when automated testing tools can take advantage of UI Automation (the succesor to Microsoft Active Accessibility) which will be officially announced with the general availability of Vista early in 2007. Vista ease of use is a major step towards bringing accessibility into the business-as-usual mainstream of computing. Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com
NSFWNSFW It has come to the attention of Vulture Central that Charles White, MD of Information Risk Management shows a more fluid awareness of risk management when he's feeling particularly relaxed. Cue obligatory YouTube video, which we should note contains more than its fair share of effing and blinding: Good effort. Fair play to the bloke for giving it a go, but we don't reckon Olga Corbett and Nadia Comenici will be losing much sleep over Chaz's gymnastic performance. For the record, IRM's disaster recovery strategy is as follows: Disaster recovery is different from business recovery in that it concentrates on managing a disaster from identification through to reinstatement. It requires processes and procedures, inter alia, to identify that a disaster has happened, initiate a disaster plan, call together the disaster management team and how the team will work together to manage the disaster. In the case of this disaster, however, IRM seems to have ditched its meticulous plan in favour of simply laughing while saying "ow" and "fucking hell" a lot. ®
The crew of the space shuttle Discovery have managed to unjam a solar panel on the International Space Station during a record-breaking fourth and final spacewalk of the mission. Mission Specialist Robert Curbeam became the first astronaut ever to complete four spacewalks during a single mission. The outing was not part of the original schedule for the mission, but the solar panel became stuck as the astronauts were folding it so it could be moved to another part of the station. Curbeam and fellow mission specialist Christer Fuglesang spent almost seven hours wrestling with the array: pulling at guide wires, flipping grommets, and pushing panel hinges (according to NASA). The space agency says the astronauts also had to give the panel a good shake before it came loose and retracted properly. The panel was part of the "temporary" power supply the station was fitted with six years ago. It has not been retracted since it was first deployed, which might explain why it didn't retract remotely, as it was designed to do. The next mission to the ISS will see astronauts attempt to retract the opposite side of the array. NASA says part of the purpose of the spacewalk was to learn as much as possible to make that process easier. The shuttle will undock from the ISS this evening, just after 5pm, eastern standard time. This means the crew should be home by 22 December and, with luck, debriefed in time for Christmas. ®
Intel does not expect quad-core processors to make any major impact on the desktop PC market through to the end of Q3 2007 if a presentation slide allegedly leaked from the chip giant is to be believed.
Apple's Mac OS X has been successfully used to boot up an Asus R2H ultra-mobile PC (UMPC), which runs the operating system slowly but surely. To minimise claims that all the still photography is faked, the start-up process has been captured on video.
Sharp has begun mass-producing blue-laser diodes, a move that may help alleviate the current dearth of this critical component for Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD drives.
Sony has finally posted a patch for the CyberLink PowerDVD playback software it bundles with its internal Blu-ray Disc burner, the BWU-100A, to allow the drive to play pre-recorded BD media. Sony announced the drive in Europe in September. A month later it promised a BD playback update.
NASA has called on the omnipresence of Google to help it manage the profluence of data it expects to splurge forth from its Moon and Mars missions.
Women in their 20s from the South East are most likely to take umbrage at seeing their lovingly-selected gifts up for auction, though in the North East the majority of the population (88 per cent) will take offence. The survey of 431 people comes from The London Gift Consultancy, and shows that only 1.6 per cent of respondents would be happy to see their gifts sold on, while 7.2 per cent would be "broken hearted". Teenagers seem to be the age group most easily upset, but sulking is more-or-less what teenagers are for. Middle-aged men know that Christmas isn't about gifts, it's about getting a snog at the office party, so are least likely to be upset at seeing their gifts online. Despite all this, other research shows that 15 per cent of UK online shoppers plan to sell their unwanted gifts online, with another 35 per cent considering it – presumably waiting to see what the gifts are before deciding. The London Gift Consultancy offers useful advice to avoid seeing your carefully-chosen presents ending up on eBay, though it seems a little late to tell people to "plan ahead" or "allocate time" with the big day less than a week off. The best advice would seem to be, if you want to avoid getting upset, just avoid eBay for a few months after Christmas and maintain that illusion that your girlfriend really wanted that phone-holster-garter, or buy all your gifts from El Reg instead. ®
Ingram Micro has expanded its deal with the intriguing StarTech.com into the UK. Why intriguing? Because StarTech specializes in “hard to find” computer parts. Of course, it depends what you mean by hard to find. A quick trot across the StarTech.com site shows lots of cases, removable storage, switches, etc. All pretty standard stuff you’d have thought. Then again, try to find any of that by rifling through your supplies box.
Google has quietly axed the web services API to its eponymous search engine. The stealth move was made without any announcement, but visitors to the page now receive a blunt message, backdated to 5 December, advising them that the SOAP API is no longer supported.
Opera has added third-party fraud protection components to the latest revision of its web browser software, Opera 9.1. The fraud protection includes technology from GeoTrust, the digital certificate provider, and PhishTank, a clearing house for data on phishing scams.
Microsoft has agreed to let bygones be bygones with The MPO Group, an authorised disk replicator which it says made thousands of unauthorised copies if its server software.
Keeping systems up and running is holding back European IT managers from contributing to business improvement as much as they could. A shock survey reveals the majority of IT managers' time is taken up with "making IT work". For the hard of thinking, Benchmark Research associate director Paul Watts hammered the point home with the the astounding truism: "Almost regardless of organisation size or industry sector, maintenance accounts for a very sizeable share of the IT budget across Europe." Sounds pretty reasonable to us. However, all this "making IT work" drudgery stifles innovation you see; there's no time for strategy chinwaggery, blue skies drinking or for HP, who funded the survey, buying new kit. The survey did highlight the security industry's success in climbing the budgetary agenda; out of 16 concerns security threats were the number one concern. HP seems disappointed with poor penetration of service-oriented architecture, which only 31 per cent said they were fairly familiar or better with. The firm is pushing new services aimed at modernising application delivery. The survey dipsticked 700 European IT managers in eight countries. ®
Britain is a nation of gadget addicts, according to a report from the Energy Saving Trust (EST). The environmental think tank says over the next six months Brits will buy around 30m electric or electronic gadgets, with many describing their purchases as "essential".
A new service from Synchro Arts, better known for its professional audio work in the film industry, will take your voice and attempt to change the pitch, tone, and timing to match a wide range of popular songs. The idea is to have a popular song reproduced with your own voice as your phone ringtone, and the technology is impressive – even more so in that it will run on a standard PC. The download is 34MB, and you'll need to register first, but then you just sing along in best karaoke fashion, and once you're done the software tries its best to make the whole thing sound sensible and in tune. It also offers to do the whole thing over the phone, but using a PC gives you more options for trying different tunes and hearing how well the system works. The resulting ringtone will set you back £1.50, though many are free as an introductory offer, and playing with the software on a PC to see how it fares is also free. Here at El Reg the challenge was perhaps unfair - long years communicating only through a keyboard has left us with hardly a voice in the office. But, for some Christmas afternoon silliness, nothing beats singing to your computer - just make sure you're alone in the office when you do it! ®
Check Point Software has agreed to buy threat prevention firm NFR Security for around $20m. The deal, announced Tuesday, is expected to close by the end of the year.
Amazon looks set to plough into the digital music market next year. The retailer started romancing music labels last week. We talked to an Amazon spokesman today, who said the company was positive about the "massive growth" in the download market. He confirmed that providing digital music was "definitely an area of interest" for the retailer. Already the internet's number one destination for physical music sales, the most shocking thing about the news is that it has taken them so long. One explanation being touted is that Amazon will launch DRM-free, which will have required delicate and drawn out negotiations with nervous major record labels. For Amazon, an empire built on slashing overheads, logic dictates any music store will be extended to include movies, TV shows and games. The FT reported Sunday Amazon is also in talks with Sony to provide movies for transfer to PSP, for example. ®
CSC will not be paying its employee bonuses in the UK this year. The enterprise software and outsourcing giant has cited poor financial performance. Employees normally get a 10 per cent salary bonus for the financial year, only half of which is meant to be based on the financial performance of the firm, we're told. Back in May the bonus was reduced to around five or six per cent. Now it seems in true Christmas spirit, the LA, California-based CSC has decided there will be nothing for UK staff, our sources say. In a statement, CSC told The Register: In respect of bonus payments at CSC, all such payments are of course discretionary and therefore determined by our ability to meet targets set out at the start of each year. Achieving the current years targets is challenging however, in particular given the significant investments we have made in successfully securing large scale business re-competes this year such as Schroders, MBDA, Whitbread, AVIVA and BAE Systems. All of these will provide us with a strong platform for growth going forward. The UK has benefited enormously from our extension with the NHS which, together with one or two other recent contract signings will support our growth into next year and beyond. CSC declined to comment on the bonus reductions. Earlier this year, a mass restructuring plan by the CSC board was launched with a view to shedding 5,000 jobs worldwide. The business review which accompanied the cuts singled out European operations for over capacity. In the UK, 1,200 were for the chop. The Register has received dozens of emails throughout the year from current and former CSC staff unhappy at their treatment. Scheduled pay reviews were repeatedly delayed, bonus cut announcements were botched and had to be reannounced, and morale is at an "all-time low". We'll leave the last word to one of our correspondents: "The sense of dissatisfaction is growing stronger with each blow. If the union called for industrial action, how would the company respond? The implications for any of their contracts would be significant, but for their biggest contract; the NHS, the impact is unimaginable. Perhaps the only reason it hasn't happened is because the unions and employees know the company simply could not survive such an event." ®
HP this week moved to bulk up the security tools available with its HP-UX operating system. The company has released an assortment of additions for HP-UX 11i V2 - including server-side encryption, a security chip and fortified data containers - that give customers some nice, high-end options. HP officials bragged that a number of the new tools arrive at no additional cost to customers. In addition, HP insisted that we remind you of its "commitment to the long-term success of the HP-UX roadmap."
The UK government has ditched plans to put all our identities on one big database, saying that sticking with existing systems will help cut fraud and save money. But this is not a U-turn. Home Secretary John Reid was very clear about that. The system will now be built using existing data, with additional information being stored on existing databases. As it is collected, biometric information will be stored on systems that are used to keep record of asylum seekers. Biographical information will be stored on the Department of Work and Pensions' (DWP) Customer Information Service. This is where national insurance information is currently kept. Also, the passport services' computer system will be used to track the issue and use of the identity cards. Reid has already said that as of 2008 all new visitors to the UK will have to register their biometric information with the government. But now this will be extended to all non-EU foreign nationals in the UK. The scheme will start for those reapplying for visas. "We want to count everybody in and count everybody out," said Reid. He also conceded that the system will not prevent people having fake IDs, but argues that it will put a stop to multiple identities, the BBC reports."You can go around claiming the first time you are John Reid, but you can not then come round a second time claiming you are Liam Byrne", he said. We are mystified as to why anyone would want to pass themselves off as either, but that may be beside the point. At first glance, the U-turn, sorry, slight change of tack, might seem a blow to big IT firms smacking their lips at the prospect of building pricey systems to support the cards. However, the government's previous lack of clarity on its ID cards plans has already concerned some vendors. In addition, the government has tightened up its IT contracts, and any vendor involved in the ID card scheme could have come in for a very public slapping should things have gone pear-shaped. A smaller, more manageable scheme might be much more to the IT industry's liking. ®